Posts tagged education
Posts tagged education
Aaaaaaand while I do sponsor an LGBT club, I’m going even going to try to lend my straight voice to this discussion.
I’m going to throw this out to my LGBT readers to pipe in. I have some LGBT teacher followers that are out, so they can share their experiences.
Go, LGBT readers, go!
Cross posting to my main blog.
This is the kind of decision that is difficult to make before you get to that time and place, because everything has context, and because often we make plans but being in the spot to do them feels very different from what we’d imagined.
I’ve been in placements where there were other out teachers, even in a subtle way, and it wasn’t a big deal. I’ve also been in places in which I wasn’t allowed to use a picture book with same-sex parents in the grand scheme of a family unit in a class in which a child had two mommies. The places where we feel it is needed most can be the places where it is the most dangerous to us.
So here is my advice to you:
Get a feel for where you are.
Get to know your students.
Decide whether being out is a state of being for you or an action or event, and decide whether it is for you or for them.
If it’s an action or event, think about whether it’s necessary to your students’ getting to know you. Is it about the fact that you’re LGBTQ? Is it more that you want to be able to talk about a spouse without fear? Is it to be a role model or to be more open in general?
My advice would be — if you’re going to be out, make it a state of being and not an event. By that, I mean, do so through ways that feel natural to you and to the kids - by mentioning or having a photo of a spouse, by connecting to or talking about an experience that is relevant to them as your students. Does it have to be specifically about being LGBTQ? Not even. It could be about being called this or that or the emotions around hiding or coming out or learning who to trust — but it could also just as easily, just as easily be a matter of telling a story about a funny thing a partner did once, or how you totally relate to having a broken heart or wanting to talk to your girlfriend boyfriend etc. all the time in the halls because you want to talk to your girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband/partner/etc. all the time too but everyone has to focus.
If you’re going to be out to your students, make it natural, and that will make it meaningful. It may not be something that even occurs to everyone right away but I can guarantee you that the students who need you will know, and that if there is ever a time where you need to pull off the glasses and the suit jacket and be the superhero in a moment of homophobia, transphobia, cis- or heterosexism, that you will be more ready if you are natural about who you are than if you either put it out first thing (where some students or parents or staff may read it as a political statement and, then, anything you say thereafter on the subject as such) or hide it entirely, unless you have to do so for your safety.
And that’s the other thing — put your safety at the forefront of your considerations. Please. We want you to work with your kids for a long time.
The good/bad news, depending on whether or not you’re my wallet, is that not only can I not afford it, I wouldn’t have anywhere to put it; I don’t think it would travel well in my car. So I actually can’t pick it up even if I wanted to. In the meantime I’m looking at magnetic sets, family doll sets, and considering making some felt boards.
Mom looked at me funny when I got excited about wanting a dollhouse and said I was a little old for one. I had to tell her it was for a client before she believed it wasn’t for me.
But, I mean, on some levels I guess you could argue that point…
(Looking at listings and prices on Amazon, I wonder if it would just be cheaper and easier to get what I need by making it myself.)
Amazon.com Universal Wishlist for Miss J.
Some things are easy and standalone — books, toys, blank puzzles, games, you can look at them and go oh, okay, I get it.
Some things — like the blank puppets and the fabric markers, or the glitter and glitter glue and sequins (sensory/stress bottles) — probably make less sense, or use, on their own, but more when you look at them as a whole.
And a very few things on there are for the sake of me being able to continue to be on the go while essentially working out of my car. I’m only at five clients, already at half the hours of a full caseload (which is twelve and up), and always ready for another — even if I may not be at full energy at the moment. Things like containers or, yes silly as it may be, Emergen-C, help me make sure I can keep materials organized and keep myself moving.
What do I do now? Mentoring. Therapeutic games. Skills-building. Modeling. Crisis intervention/safety planning. Connection to services. Pyschoeducation. Kids ages 4 to 21 and their families, their schools, their whoever and whereever. Whatever the family needs that our service can provide — that is what I do, even if that means connecting to another service when we can’t fill every need. It’s a little like teaching was, but I get to work specifically with the kids who need the most support, and I get to do that in their homes (or in some cases schools or temporary housing) and with their whole family systems (and school systems and community systems if the family wants/needs it).
EDIT: I’m now at six clients, we are waiting with baited breath to hear about potential budget-and-wishlist for the program (if it’s a no I may have to do a DonorsChoose project to get us what we need - tools like therapeutic boardgames, multi-racial family doll sets, sill builder sets, and other essentials), and this was featured almost as soon as I posted it.
EDIT EDIT: Apparently make that seven. Seven clients.
And holy hey, guys, whoever featured it, I can’t thank you enough. (They know my face at both Dollar Tree and Family Dollar thanks to at least weekly visits…though I’m sure my ID badge helps, too.)
Sometimes we don’t hear the words that someone is saying as the words that they say — we hear the feelings we connect to them, and process from there. It’s amazing how quickly, and how commonly, “I don’t want to play ponies today,” can turn into, “she hates me and doesn’t care about me” in that space between two people at a table.
This is an activity that we use to help relieve that when we see it happening, and one that could be used in a classroom setting either in large-group debates/discussions or by pulling students aside.
1. Pause the conversation as misinterpretations start leading to tension. Making use of a “talking stick” — any object you use to signify that the holder is the person whose turn it is to talk — can be really helpful when conflicts start. Hand the object to the person who made the first statement.
2. Ask person A, “Can you repeat what you said to Person B?” Listen with Person B. If what Person A says is not what you heard them say, gently take the talking object and ask, “Are you sure that’s what you said?” If they’re changing what they said and won’t repeat themselves, you can take it a step further and say, “What I heard you say was ____.”
3. Hand the talking object to Person B. Ask Person B to repeat what they heard Person A say.
4. If these things match up, the situation may begin to resolve itself, or you may be able to move to a different tactic of moderation. If not, take the talking object and ask Person A, “Is that what you said?” Hand the object back to Person A.
5. Ask, “How do you feel about how Person B heard that?” After their response, pass talking object to Person B and ask how they feel about that response, or why they think they heard what they did.
6. If tensions and miscommunications persist, continue to use the speak-and-repeat between the people involved in the conversation. This will help demonstrate the way the words change and how they have injected meaning of their own interpretation, and allow both parties to rethink and clarify the way they express their thoughts.
May make related posts soon. Collaborative problem solving, positive reinforcement, feelings talk, safety talk, redirection, general communication…it’s a tangled nest of things.
If you have any questions fire away and see if I can help.
Today one of my students came running in during my planning period. Her schedule is getting changed and her only free period [for study hall] is now 4th, which is my other planning period. This means she has to drop my class and won’t get credit for it. Since I teach a semester-long class, she has gone 13 out of the 18 weeks and now is faced with the possibility of no credit.
Yes, I agreed to do a faculty directed study for the remainder of the semester. As I was cooking tonight it hit me - what the heck have I done? So much of my class involves discussion, lecture, and in-class participation. How am I going to make this engaging and interesting to her and not just busy work for the next 5 weeks.
Any advice from the veterans who have done this before?
Is it possible to make an online component — something using one of the social media tools that will still allow her to participate in discussions with her classmates even if she’s not in the period anymore? I wish I could be more specific but have gotten admittedly out of touch with the sites and tools available.
Alternatively (to something discussion-based), you have her do something like a blog as she works through the material and have other students read and comment?
I know I’ve had great experiences as a teacher/academic-focused youth worker in finding collaborators and mutual idea/opinion-runners-by on tumblr.
Now that I’m doing a slightly different kind of youth work, I’m realizing that I really don’t have anyone to talk to about cases — nothing privacy-violating so much as, “I have John Doe who’s having this behavior, what’s your thoughts?” — or chat about latest strategies, etc. It would be great to have a community to go to.
When I was teaching, if I had to go on little sleep and grab a snack mid-day instead of breakfast and still got everything done, I wouldn’t brag that I had done it on little sleep or little food, but I would be satisfied at the end of the day, proud even, that I pushed through it. In fact, let’s be honest, I’d feel accomplished. If I could give the kids my full energy I’d feel a tiny hint of giddiness at the end of the day (or maybe that was sleep deprivation…) at having managed it all, especially if I’d gotten to work with my “bad kids” — the students that were more or less deemed unredeemable by most of the other faculty or staff in the building or program.
Last night I couldn’t sleep. I laid in bed and stared at the ceiling, at the wall, at the blankets, at the floor, tried thinking, tried to stop thinking, and after about two hours of this pulled my laptop over to socialize in a zombie-like state until I was ready to fall asleep on the keyboard. Eight hours were slated, but what happened was something more like four.
I skipped breakfast. It had been planned — going through the drive-through for a coffee and potatoes, not ideal but something — but paperwork I needed for the day was actually not the right person’s paperwork, and professionalism (read: getting there on time) took precedence over food. My meeting was surely going to be over by 9, I’d get it later.
The meeting was over by necessity before 9 (administrators and a teacher were involved and morning routines were to be had), in which an exhausting amount of information was discussed and some important forms and safety considerations accomplished.
Then there was a parent outside, and I needed to speak with them anyway. But it turned into an impromptu half-hour session.
And stopping over at another building to pick up a copy of a file turned into the genuinely pleasant surprise of having two important people free at the same time to talk about another student, which was also very necessary and hadn’t yet been done because of conflicting schedules.
Walking back to my car at a little before 11, I thought to myself, “Yes, that was great, you feel awesome, look at what you crammed in this morning on minimal sleep, no food, and no coffee.”
That’s when I realized — I didn’t feel great. I was carrying myself like a professional and had gotten a lot of work done (the time seems short, but in the work I’m doing now the sessions are so intensive that it can take another half-hour to an hour just to sort through notes and figure out all that was talked about/done/assigned), and I felt good about the way things had converged — but on the inside I was shaky, hungry, exhausted, and really craving coffee. Really. Something fierce.
It occurs to me that this is a moment that everyone must have at some point, if it hasn’t happened already. Possibly more than once. Depending on the week, maybe once a day. And it’s important to notice that line we balance in recognizing the difference between invincible and running on fumes.
how is everyone feeling?
The more I learn through work, the more I wonder if some of what we learn for ourselves and our clients (because after working with some of our clients, we need some techniques for our own health) might be beneficial to some of the teachers/student teachers/other folks who are under a lot of stress, too.
Are folks familiar with grounding techniques? What does your self-care toolkit look like? When you’re done working through what your kids are doing, do you take any time to check in with how you’re doing?
Grit is being used to describe how students need to toughen up and face their failures, and as important as grit may be, resilience seems to be a much better trait to have in life.
Resiliency is a highly researched concept in psychology, and I’m trying not to pull at my hair over the loose individual theories reference in this article regarding what it is, how it comes about, and how to build it.
This just solidifies my concerns over more educational professionals not having more child/adolescent psychology requirements. There is a wealth of information out there, and it seems oftentimes that one hand does not know what the other is doing when we are looking at the same populations.