Working in Education is quite a hard we all know that. There are many different reasons that different people have, I.e. Too much work not enough pay, too much paperwork, kids have no respect these days, etc. For me though what I find the hardest is that we have to continually reinforce the idea that we are not like them. We have to assume a persona, now I did a drama degree so I get acting but this is different. No script, no scenario, everything is off the cuff and the biggest difference is that this is real!
Today I had a teaching assistant training session. Us, TAs sit around and discuss particular topics that effect our job. Today’s topic: behaviour management. Now I wasn’t the best kid at school, not the worst but definitely not the best, so I get where some of these kids are coming from, that’s why I got into education really. During lessons I’m usually doing something like walking around, assisting, so I’m active I don’t have to be still. But today during the session the expectation is to sit and listen, keeping still. So I’m there trying to keep still and listen to my colleagues go on and on. This is how the kids feel. I can’t keep still I have to be active. But yet we have to pretend that sitting still is the norm. But it’s not really realistic, our bodies were made to move not be restricted to a chair 5 + hours a day. There’s so much evidence out there to support this all you need to do is google it.
Take this article for example: http://www.pediastaff.com/blog/twenty-reasons-why-a-child-cant-sit-still-5034
It states reasons why a child can’t sit still. I mean a lot are common sense and a lot apply to autism but not exclusively autism but these ones below are the ones I can relate to and think are the most relevant for my ASD. Here’s a couple of examples :
The child does not get enough exercise.
The children of the day are a technology generation, not all but we all see the statistics, hear the news. At my school so many kids don’t bring in their P.E kit, and kids only have P.E. twice a week. Don’t get me wrong there’s break time and lunchtime but our break at the school is 20 minutes long but realistically it’s only 15 minutes because 5 minutes is for the students to get to lessons. And lunch is 50 minutes in the same respect though they have to eat in that time and let’s say a healthy amount of time to eat food is 10-15 minutes but they have to wait in a queue for 5-10 minutes. Also 5 minutes is knocked off for them to get to lessons. So in essence they only have maximum 30 minutes, minimum 20 minutes. Proportional to the amount of time they are sitting down that’s like 10%. Bonkers when you put it like that. They’ve got too much energy in their bodies.
I know I do not exercise enough and my autistic brain means that I need to have outputs for all the information receive. So the fact that my movements are restricted can be hard but I have to pretend that I can sit still in this training session I had to find excuses for why I needed to move, e.g. I got up to throw away my crisp packet. I mean I could have left it there but I wanted to move so I did.
The child is bored… (The adults) don’t have a realistic idea about a child’s attention span
I think like any of us it is near impossible to sit and listen to someone for longer than 5-10 minutes without loosing focus at some point. I mean everyone has different interests and if a student already has difficultly in processing auditory information you’re going to loose them in about a minute, if you’re lucky. Also if your droning on and on with a monotone voice don’t be surprised when they find it hard to listen. There’s no need to explain everything all at once, break it down explain, then do, explain then do. This forces the child to keep their brains active.
In the session today I was a bit bored because everyone there was a bit bland. So I put a bit of fun in it. I contributed my ideas concisely and then made a joke remark here and there to break up the moments of focus. I mean this wasn’t always popular with the group but we are all the same status in the school I don’t have to impress any of them so why not. I was getting warnings (joke warnings) like the kids get. It kept the pace up and my attention on the task at hand.
We need to be able to acknowledge that there are similarities between ourselves and the students. We enjoy making a joke, can be a bit lazy, struggle with focusing. We are not robots and though we have to present professionalism and obviously not be too personable to the point where they think they know us. But we need to be relatable as humans beings. I think there are teachers that need to able to be reflective and ask themselves: what I’m asking that child to do can I do or could I do back when I was young? Today I was in the shoes of the children and things that we have to expect children to do we can’t even do ourselves as adults. It was just emphasised more than it was before that I am just like them.
Thanks for reading. Hope you liked it. Peace out.