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I have a student who I will call Hannah, who is emotionally disabled. She is a sweet girl, but has trouble dealing with anger. It is a rare occasion for her to have a smile on her face, but when she does, her whole face lights up.
Today Hannah was upset about something and refused to come to our meeting area. Hannah usually talks out and is disrespectful, but isn't usually aggressive.
Her desk was behind a book shelf and out of the meeting area, so I really couldn't see her. I told her she needed to come over, but I purposefully did not pay much attention to her otherwise. I started my whole group instruction while she sat at her desk. A little bit of time went by, and I called her over again. This time she came over and sat down although she grumbled the whole way. Eventually I included her in the discussion and we completed the lesson.
Tonight I had a conversation with the mother who helps in my room. She told me about a situation with a similar student in another school. She said there was a big difference in our interactions with the student. She said the other teacher "got in her face and gave it right back to her." I, on the other hand, gave the student time to cool down, ignored the behavior, and continued to "invite" Hannah over with the rest of the class.
We all know how important relationships with our students are, but I think it is even more important with students who have emotional problems. Having this conversation with this mother reminded me of the importance of teaching respect to these students. I know that Hannah does not have respectful role models at home because I have seen how her parents talk to her and to each other.
I went on to explain how I believe that part of my responsibility as a teacher is to model respect for my students. Showing Hannah and other students respect through talking out situations, giving her time to cool down, showing her positive alternatives to disrespect is not a standard, but still a vital lesson to teach.
If I don't teach this to her, where will she learn it?