Everyone has dreams of what they will be when they grow up. Those dreams may be of becoming a fireman, a parent, or (dare I even mention this so close to the elections) the president of the United States. When I was growing up I had two dreams; one was to be an actress/dancer and one was to work with disabled people. One night, while attending college working toward my first dream, my boyfriend said, “Just think of it Jerilyn, tap dancing on the corner of New York just to pay the rent! Doesn’t that sound romantic?” Eventually, I realized it didn’t sound that romantic and so I switched boyfriends, universities and gears, getting a degree in special education instead.
I attended Utah State University, studying under some of the best professors in the business. All these years later, people still ask me about those professors. I was working on a dual endorsement to teach resource children and the multiply handicapped. However, my advisor and the department chairperson saw things differently, suggesting I consider an endorsement working with severely emotionally-behaviorally disturbed (EBD) children instead. I took their advice, requiring many more hours of classes and graduated with both resource and EBD endorsements. I have never regretted that decision.
Almost 20 years later, while new to a district, I attended a two-day staff development training for teachers of disturbed children. I realized that many of my colleagues did not have strategies for behavior management and few had any kind of system. At first, this surprised me. Eventually, I became aware that many teachers with special education degrees are placed in EBD classrooms who do not have, to no fault of their own, specific endorsements, or training on effective strategies and how to implement them. Soon, the district was sending teachers and other personnel to my classroom to observe.
I am not here because I have all the answers. But, what I do have is years of experience working with troubled and fragile children and a willingness to learn more. I do have a specific system I have created based on my training and those years of experience. It has been very effective for children of all ages. I recognize other teachers have effective systems, too.
Join me as I share my training and experiences working in a classroom of troubled children. Believe me, these stories are much more interesting than tap dancing on the corner of New York to pay the rent.
Remember to be kinder than necessary and make it a grateful and peace-filled week,