Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A Letter to My Intern on the Completion of Day 1, 2006-07

"You marveled today about how much there is to learn. You are right, ours is a sometimes wild, often overwhelming environment where it can be said that learning more about everything is the name of the game!!

This is only day 1, but you couldn't help but notice how delayed in other areas our students are. Many ED kids have such delays. Poor social skills lead to poor learning….. and learning challenges often lead to poor social skills. It sometimes seems like a chicken or egg proposition. Neurological problems can spark both kinds of deficits, as can abuse issues…. It seems endless. Instead, I try to see the child as a whole, identify strengths and weaknesses, and move toward helping them grow in all areas. It’s a challenge, as you got a glimpse of today.

Everyday you will be faced with new situations that will surprise you. You’ll get fast on your feet, become more confident in your own decision making, and feel better about predicting behavior. For example, with kids who tend to overreact and become violent, we know we must be ready to intervene in the blink of an eye. Better yet, we'll learn their triggers and be able to act proactively to avoid some of the acting out. You’ll be learning words to use to diffuse situations (“You wish you could have your turn now?” or “ Are you worried you’ll miss out on a turn?”). You learned the value of stepping in and separating kids today.... trial by fire as they say. Your lessons will come, some dramatically like today, and thankfully, others will come more subtlety.

During our next planning hour, you can begin to read the kids’ social histories; many of your "why" questions will begin to be answered. You’re right, the behavior we deal with comes from somewhere….. and you’ll be interested/amazed/appalled to read the sad stories of loss and hurt many of our kids have endured.

From my perspective as your mentor, you did very well today. You were calm, attentive to the children's needs, focused on doing your best... AND the kids took to you. That is a very, very good sign.
It is only day one. The first step is often the most frightening!!!!!"

Dee, I'll be there every step along the way.

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