January 2014

Progress Reports.

It’s Progress Report time, which, for a special education school, means reporting on the progress of each benchmark within each goal, for each student. For me, it’s reporting on their progress towards their Receptive/Expressive Language (speech/language) goal.

And while doing that, I’ve realized how much of our data is confounded. I mean, obviously. There are a million different factors and that goes with the job, with the therapy. But I have so many students who live very much in their heads. Some who can even express what it’s like to be inside their minds and their bodies, who can explain, whether it’s through a script or a drawing, how their brain works.

And it isn’t easy for them to come out of their heads. And it isn’t easy for them to learn in the way that we teach. Easier when we modify, easier when we cater toward their needs and personalities, but still not easy.

So when I report that a student did not achieve a benchmark, did not obtain x/y/z skills, I’m struggling with it. Because I want to put in bold underneath:

-Student may know way more than s/he is able to show us.
-Student’s performance varies based on his/her internal state and sensory regulation.

Now I don’t know how much the Dept. of Ed. would like that (sarcasm) so I don’t do that. But I want the parents of my students to understand. That it’s not necessarily that their child can’t do something. Yes, there are things they can’t do, can’t understand, can’t comprehend. But I truly, firmly, strongly believe that more often than not? It’s that the world around them is not shaped in a way where they can SHOW what they know. Where they can access the knowledge that’s being taught. Where they can truly express their knowledge, thoughts, and comprehension.

I just want parents to know that. That I think their kids, all of them, are brilliant. That I understand them. A lot. On a nonverbal way, on that I-understand-him-through-my-soul way. That no matter what my Progress Report says, no matter how many benchmarks are or are not achieved, I will not give up. I will not think their child is incapable, not think that they have plateaued in development, not think that they do not or cannot understand something. I will not stop trying to meet them on their level, and I will not stop trying to teach in a way that they get. And if that means scripting back and forth with a student for 20 minutes so that I can explain a concept in a way that they understand? You bet I’ll do it.

Your kids are brilliant. All of them.

Please know that I know that.


When I think about my sensitivity, my permeability, my inability to take in an emotion and let it go, and my inability to think/feel/remember one thing without bringing up ten other feelings/thoughts/emotions, here’s how I think about it:

I imagine that many people’s brains have maps of loosely connected events. Here and there, one thing is connected to another. So something may bring up a memory, but it’s a loose connection, and it’s only one, so they remember it and move on.

But my brain? I imagine it like a tightly knotted ball of yarn. A maze of interconnected everything, so that when I hear one thing? It instantly makes me feel every single other thing it’s connected to. Every single event in my life is connected to multiple other ones, so tightly woven that it’s near impossible to just feel one thing. Or think one thing. Or remember one thing.

The beautiful symphony of scripting

Please. please. please. read. this. post.
This post, these words, they explain, better than I ever could, why I indulge my students’ scripts, why I try to meet them in their world, or at least at the fence. 

(via Diary of a Mom)


Brooke skips through fields of words and frolics in their sounds. She rolls from one to the next — Water Water Besha Besha — filling her pockets with the ones that delight her senses, dropping the rest on the grass with a satisfying thud as she runs, overcome with squealing laughter, a vocal gymnast throwing sounds twirling, twisting, flipping into the wind. My girl loves sounds. As tongue-tyingly frustrating as they may be when forced into the box of Other People’s Perceptions, words and sounds and sounds that are words are wondrous, joyful, FREE when unburdened by Communicative Purpose. 

From today’s post – a playground of words, featuring Julia Bascom –

On my mind right now

-Am I useless? Am I accomplishing anything with my life? What purpose do I serve?

-How was there another school shooting? My heart hurts so much.

-Thoughts and emotions are flying around my soul and I can’t close off to them. It’s been a long stretch of increased permeability and it hurts.

-Am I an awful fiance/daughter/sister/friend? Because I feel like it.

-Am I responsible for everyone? Can everything be traced back to me? Do I hold the world’s suffering in my hands?

Sensitive soul

Today I feel sad.

Maybe it’s due to boredom and feelings of I-am-doing-nothing-with-these-days-and-letting-time-slip-away, which inevitably leads to guilt, and more sadness. Maybe it’s because it’s been 10 days of relaxing over winter vacation, and due to a big storm, work was cancelled for today and tomorrow also. And I’m home on my own, which would usually be appealing and inviting, but after many days of being home, sitting on the couch watching t.v. and even reading don’t seem so appealing. 

Maybe it’s because I’m feeling raw, and I have been since yesterday — where I have no filter and every thought, emotion, feeling, worry, whether mine or someone else’s, whether real or perceived or imagined, are permeating my soul and all I can do is let all that energy swirl around inside of me and ride it out.

And I know, it doesn’t totally matter why. It’s not hugely purposeful or successful to think about why I feel sad, especially when the reasons are likely tenfold and indescribable. But it’s hard to just accept it and ride it out.

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