Monday, June 30, 2014

how being a parent is helping me become a better teacher...

Working with children has been my passion for my entire life.  I love teaching!  As I’ve been reflecting on this past school year, I’ve realized that parenting Ben has given me a fresh perspective on the classroom experience.   We have been beyond pleased with Ben’s teachers and his school.  In fact, these things have been modeled all year by his teachers.  This list is NOT a reflection on his classroom experience.  It’s a reflection on my own classroom through the eyes of a parent. 
 
So here goes…in no particular order…here are 9 things that have become increasingly important to me as a teacher:

1.       The need for movement is non-negotiable.  I’m excited about GoNoodle and organizing a youtube playlist  that will help me with brain breaks for the kids. 

2.       Homework is harder than I realized.  I’ve never really been a fan of homework - kids work hard all day and really need time at home to just be kids.  But working with my own tired child at the end of the day has given me a new appreciation for how this routine really impacts the entire family dynamic. 

3.       ARD meetings (and parent conferences) are intimidating!  I am blessed to work alongside Ben’s teachers and therapists as both colleagues and friends.  I have participated in countless ARD meetings as a teacher.  But it is quite a different experience as a parent. 

4.       It’s not the parents’ fault.  It is easy to say, “If only those parents would…” but in reality there are many factors in a child’s progress.  Remaining positive about the entire family will benefit the child.

5.       Kids are, for the most part, giving you their best.  This goes along with the previous one.  When I’m positive, they will push themselves even further.  That momentum will cause me to find even more ways to meet their needs.

6.       Accommodations require creativity and consistency.  If I want my students to be their best, I need to be at my best for them.  Thinking outside the box to help kids experience success is important. 

7.       One on one attention must be a top priority.  I’m outnumbered!  Getting to know each individual child's strengths and weaknesses is the only way to ensure success. 

8.       Recess is the most important part of his day and what happens on the playground matters.  I’m amazed at how many times Ben talked about playground activities and its effect on his overall perception of himself and his day. 
9.   Kids need to be loved first.  Relationships are the most important part of the classroom experience.
 
I'm not really sure how this post fits in this blog, but it feels right to share.  This list certainly doesn't suggest that I've somehow become an expert in the classroom.  I have so much to learn.  It also isn't complete...I think I could write forever.
Ben's academic experience is as important as the medical stuff when it comes to figuring out all things Doose. 
What are some things you wish your child's teacher understood?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Understanding is different than fixing.

First grade has taught Ben some important lessons. But we have learned a lot as well.

We went into first grade with some big fears. Will he catch up?  Will he grow to love learning?  Will he make friends?  Will being pulled out for speech, occupational therapy, and resource be too much for him?

In the end, it's been a tremendous year of growth for him.  He's made a years worth of progress and more in some areas!

But it hasn't been easy.

For a long time, we were focused on his deficits. We could only see how far he had to go and all the work we needed to do to "fix" him.  I felt like if we just did x,y, and z then he would catch up and everything would be normal. This caused a lot of stress in our home -I'm just being honest.  I had to take a step back in order to see the pressure that was mounting in him.

I am coming to the realization that he is on his own path. He is not broken. He doesn't need to be fixed. He needs to be understood. If I can understand how he thinks and how he learns best, then I will be able to support him.

We are visiting the neuropsychologist again soon. We are going to do a reevaluation now that he isn't on so many medications.  We are interested in understanding him better. Some of his behaviors and learning difficulties look like ADD. But they are also indicative of slowed processing, speech delays, and sensory issues.  We are hoping that we can decipher his needs better to see if medication may help him. We certainly don't want to medicate unless it is necessary.

I'm so proud of him. I love seeing him grow and I am willing to walk to journey with him - at his pace.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

update {finally}

It's been a while since I've updated...here's a look at some of what's been going on around here:
 
Ben turned 7!  I can hardly believe it and of course celebrating with real cake will always be special. 
 

 
We participated in the Epilepsy Walk at the Ft. Worth Zoo and had a wonderful time!  Can you see that sign Ben is holding? 
It says 819 days (and counting) without a seizure!!!!  It's wonderful that the count is no longer our focus.  He is seizure free.

 
We had a wonderful visit with our neurologist in May.  We are continuing to use felbatol only.  Ben has not had a dosage increase on this med ever.  He is on the same dosage as January 2012.  He is basically self-weaning this med once you account for growth.  So, we will hold steady.


And the best news is that it is finally summer! 


 
I have a lot to share.  Our focus has shifted from the medical side of this journey to the academic and developmental side of it all.  Ben is healthy and strong - his growth curve has returned to normal.  Ben is a joy to be around and tries so very hard.  I will be updating the blog more often again and I hope to share my heart.