I am exhausted. Certainly not physically exhausted because I don’t move much, but emotionally exhausted. I am thinking-of-how-much-work-we-have-to-do-in-schools exhausted. Tired-of-meeting-with-people-in-education-who-just-don’t-get-it exhausted.
I feel pretty hopeless today. Worn out.
Well, that won’t happen because as soon as I start dreaming about my pie shop, I think about how I could hire marginalized, disconnected special ed kids and adults and provide them with job skills and a place to be productive in a meaningful way. And there I am back where I started. Addressing the needs of people with disabilities, people who are differently abled. No matter the spin I put on it, it boils down to one thing. Including ALL people in ALL things in which they wish to be included.
I asked this week if what we are doing is working and how do we know. This weighs on my mind heavily as every IEP meeting I attend, every evaluation and re-evaluation meeting I sit in, every eligibility meeting I weigh in on, is full of people doing the same thing, thinking the same way, treating kids the same way over and over and over. No matter the kid. No matter the needs. No matter the lack of progress. No matter the evidence that shines light on how we can do better..
And I cannot understand why. I cannot understand being willfully blind. I cannot understand why change is so threatening. I cannot understand how we keep moving farther and farther away from individualizing. How we ignore the brilliant new learning science and cling to what we have always done even though we are burning out and our students are not making progress.
Is it working?
It is not working when behaviors are not extinguished in a matter of weeks of a behaviorist intervention. Keep in mind that most educators are not even using pure behaviorists methods which includes collecting baseline data, developing an intervention that targets just one behavior at a time, apply intervention, collect data, systematically remove the rewards and be done.
It is not working when kids throw things, scream, cry, thrash out, refuse to work, put their heads on their desks, roll on the floor or hide under tables.
It is not working when the unwanted behaviors still occur even when we take recess away. And by now you know how I abhor taking recess away for misbehaviors. I believe that recess is a civil right. Don’t you?
It is not working when our students are excluded from instruction, activities with their peers, whole school rewards, and field trips.
It is not working when parents are not seen as experts about their own children.
It is not working when kids engage in self harm and are depressed and anxious.
So, take this weekend to consider how much of what you do is not working.
Also take time to celebrate what is working, because figuring that out for some of our kids takes ferocious tenacity.
Contrary to popular thinking, making our kids work for us is not the goal. Making it all work for our students is the goal.
So we better figure this out.
Is it working? How do we know?