Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Managing the "No Fair!" Moments

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Auditory Processing Disorder
Emotional Disturbance
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

The list you see above is not just a copy of the DSM-IV index. The list above is reality to the modern day teacher. Each year, teachers find themselves standing in front of 20-something children. All are unique. All have individual needs. Not much has changed in that regard. What has seemed to change is the number of students entering our rooms that need more moderate supports in place in order to be successful. Teachers have a duty. Regardless of the child's background, socioeconomic status, or life experiences, we are to deliver the material that we are responsible to teach and make sure that we do so in a way that reaches all of our children. How? Some student's needs can be met with simple changes. The list below shows easy strategies to try for different types of students...
*cushions for the seat (this is especially good for students with sensory issues or students with ADHD)
*using an exercise ball for small increments of time instead of a chair (to encourage concentration)
*frequent breaks
*reduced amount of required in-class work

Students will often meet learning with more success when strategies like these are used...but (isn't there always a "but"?)what is a teacher to do when other students start the "THAT'S NOT FAIR" game?
I am now entering my second week of the school year and have started making accommodations/adaptations for some of my students now that I understand them much better. Five minutes into my Monday, I had students giving me the dreaded "no fair" faces. As always, I want to promote a sense of family in my classroom and knew that I would need to address this sudden change immediately.
Tuesday 8:00 A.M. - Enter 19 eight year olds (necessary background info - eight year olds LOVE smelly stickers)
Experiment -
1.) A sheet of strawberry-scented stickers is hung from one of the ceiling tiles about 6 feet from the floor
2.) I asked for a volunteer and obviously picked my tallest student.
3.) I proceeded to say that if they could reach the stickers, they could have one.
4.) Student A (tall student) has no difficulty reaching the stickers
5.) Proceed to Student B (small fry in my class)- not such an easy task
6.) Student B (small fry yes, but also a pretty smart cookie) gets a chair (eeeek...)
7.) I intervened and said "Hmmmm...Student A didn't use a chair, so you may not." (this was obviously followed by a surprised "NO FAIR!" shout from Student B's fan club)
8.) Student B respectfully put the chair back and gave me the "Darn, I really wanted a sticker" look
9.) Tuesday 8:06 A.M. - Called kids to the carpet and began the anchor chart...

I began by having students tell me their thoughts on what had just happened. We began discussing the difference between "FAIR" and "EQUAL". I handed students yellow cards with different statements on them. I had them decide if their statement showed fairness or equality. They came up and put their cards under the heading that they chose. I must have an amazing group, because they got every guess correct! (INSERT HAPPY TEACHER FACE)
I have yet to hear another "That's not fair!" exclamation from any of my newly-enlightened students. They are now one step closer to becoming the awesome accepting people that they all will eventually grow to be!

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