Thursday is American Thanksgiving Day. It's one of my favorite holidays, because it remains one of the holidays that is least tainted by commercialism. We get to sit down, have a good meal with family and/or friends, and reflect a bit on all that we are thankful for (it doesn't hurt that I LOVE turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie).
We're now far enough into the school year for me to say that Buddy Boy's teachers, indeed his whole school, are bigs thing I'm thankful for. This year has been going GREAT! Buddy Boy's school instituted a model of teaching this year called "co-teaching". I'm not sure if it's the model or the individuals involved (or both), but it has been working out very well.
Basically, co-teaching is when a heterogeneous class of students is taught by both a gen ed teacher and a special ed teacher. One usually takes on the role of being the "content" specialist, while the other becomes the "process" specialist. Like all new things, we were a little anxious regarding how this would work out for Buddy Boy, but it has succeeded grandly.
Both of Buddy Boy's teachers volunteered to co-teach. One of them is a special ed teacher, and the gen ed teacher is actually currently pursuing her master's in special ed, so is open to doing things in non-conventional ways. The model seems to work for a number of reasons:
-the presence of two certified teachers decreases the student-teacher ratio
-rather than teaching of kids with special needs devolving down to the para-professionals during busy times during the day, there is a certified teacher to actually teach the kids.
-special ed kids are more likely to stay in their home classroom for larger portions of the day, rather than being parceled out to other venues.
-because it is voluntary, both teachers are enthusiastic about the model.
-even the kids that aren't identified as special ed get extra help when they need it.
The principal of the school also has a special ed background, and welcomed us with open arms when we transferred to this school two years ago. Everyone in the place knows Buddy Boy, and he is well liked by the teachers and staff.
I know that Buddy Boy is maturing, and in doing so is able to go with the flow more than he used to. Though this is a big part of his success, I'm equally convinced that it has been due in large part to the attitudes that are prevalent in the school and in his classroom in particular. He still has little incidents (like a couple of weeks ago when he followed another group of kids outside of the school when he was on the way back to his classroom from the school nurse). But these things are seen (and managed) as little speed bumps along the way, nothing to be concerned about, just things to be dealt with. His teachers celebrate his successes, instead of his shortcomings.
Me- Joe, husband of a great wife, and dad to two great kids, who were both adopted at birth.
Liz- My ever understanding wife, who manages to wear many hats (mom, advocate, therapist, teacher) for our kids.
Buddy Boy- Born in 2000. Funny, intelligent, inventive, and autistic. Loves machines.
Sweet Pea- Born in 2002. Typical little sister. Competitive, outgoing, and smart. Loves anything pink.