Today, I completed my first week working in an inclusion classroom. I must admit it can be physically, emotionally
and mentally exhausting—but there are lessons everyday and with every interaction. Some of the lessons have been quite humbling too. Next, I will present two lessons students have taught me this week.
During lunchtime I sometimes read a book out loud. Last week, while I stood in front of the class to make sure the students eat their food and not just engaged in conversation with their peers, a student tells me with a soft and gentle voice, “You should build rapport with us.”
I, of course, felt embarrassed and thought, “this child is right, I should be engaging them in a class dialogue so I proceeded with asking the following question:
“…and what is rapport Johnny?” (name of the child has been changed)
He said, “Rapport is like when you ask us, ‘how our day has been?’”
“…that is a great idea Johnny, thank you for letting me know,” I said.
Although I felt embarrassed, Johnny was right. That day during lunchtime we talked about our favorite part of the day and students had the opportunity to practice attentive listening and mutual respect skills—social learning behaviors that we are currently teaching in the class.
The second lesson is about how technology is helping a student feel connected to his friends. David (name of the child has been changed) is extremely creative and energetic; he also has been diagnosed with autism.
One morning he said to me, “My ipad [tablet] is not only for games, it helps me keep in touch with my friends when I’m not in the classroom.”
I was moved by his words.
He desires interaction and communication. Technology is helping him feel connected. Feeling connected is the opposite of feeling lonely and when students feel connected— they enjoy school and learn more.
Johnny and David taught me that relationships and feeling connected matters, even at a young age.