Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"Can you help me please?"

I spend most of my day prompting my students to ask for help. So many times they come up to me (when I'm working with other students or busy with something else) and just push whatever they need help with in my face. Or worse yet, they sit silently and wait for someone to come along and help them. Self advocacy is something we spend a lot of time working on, and the phrase "help, please" is one I work to get all of my students to say.

Today was one of those days that makes you question why on earth you ever thought that teaching was a good idea. The kind of days when your headache starts early in the morning and only gets increasingly worse- the kind of day where you know the kids are only acting out because you're not on your A game, making you irritated at the kids but really frustrated at yourself.

One of THOSE days.

And then, as I was trying to encourage one of my friends to pack up (and he really, really didn't want to) I overheard a conversation happening by the coat rack.

"Help me with this, please," I heard one of my little guys ask. He's in a wheelchair so it's not possible for him to reach out and get his back pack from the hook where it hangs. He needed someone to get his backpack and hold it for him while he put his folder in it. Since I was obviously not going to be available anytime soon he'd chosen a peer, a sweet little girl with her own struggles. 

I watched her struggle confidentially trying to wrangle his folder into his book bag.When was the last time anyone asked her to genuinely help with anything? So many of our kids need help from other people and have so few opportunities to offer help themselves. And it is equally rare that anyone asks them for help- usually they are the ones who need to rely on their general education peers to make it through the day.

She eventually got the folder in to the best of her ability and then turned to get her coat. As she then tried to put it on the first little boy said, "Now let me help you."

And with patience and persistence he tried his hardest to line up her zipper to zip up her coat.

There were no adults anywhere around them. No one to prompt them to use their words to ask for help, no one to tell them how to interact appropriately. For a totally spontaneous and pure moment they helped one another out in their end of day tasks in the most natural manner possible.

I. love. my. job.

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