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Old 12-15-2017, 05:06 PM
Clip to ScrapBook #34

This has been one of the most interesting and thought-provoking threads I have read on The Vent. Both sides have made excellent points.

I taught a self-contained class for students with significant disabilities. One of my students came from a horrible home background. The parent spent each week-end drinking theirself (I know, grammar and spelling, but I do not want to reveal any genders!) into a stupor. The student regularly slept in his/her clothes, and wore them again the next day after wetting the bed in the clothes.

I took my class on a semi-annual field trip; the field trip was paid for by a civic club, but the students did have to bring a sack lunch. This student regularly showed up without a lunch. I expressed my frustration to my mentor - a teacher with both experience and wisdom - who told me that I was not responsible for teaching the parent, I was responsible for teaching the student. She emphasized the word "teaching". My system was a small rural county where everyone knew just about everyone else, so the student's home situation was commonly known.

I worked with my student for several weeks about bringing his/her lunch, talking about what he/she wanted to eat and drink, how she/he would pack it in a bag with his/her name on the outside, etc. We role-played that if the student forgot his/her lunch, they would have nothing to eat while their classmates ate lunch. The whole class practiced reminding the student to bring his/her lunch. Most importantly, I clarified to the adults what I wanted to teach the student and why it was important for the student to learn that. All of my adults - assistants, chaperones, and bus driver - were on board. The day came and the student came with no lunch. I was so upset but I knew I had to follow through with the natural consequences. I couldn't eat my own lunch, however, and neither could my bus driver (and he didn't miss too many meals . I viewed the whole episode as a failure.

The next time we went on the field trip, the student brought a sack lunch! I couldn't believe it! The student brought a sack lunch for every field trip after that! A year later I saw the parent, who told me that the student "Pestered the stew out of me!" to get supplies for packing a lunch for field trips. About 6-7 years later when the student had moved from my class to the adult program, one of the workers told me that the student always showed up with a lunch when needed.

My mentor taught me one of the most valuable lessons I ever received about teaching: my responsibility was to teach. My role was not to provide, my role was not to ignore, my role was to teach. No matter what age group we teach or what subject matter we teach, we all have the fundamental goal of moving our students from dependence to independence.
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