Saturday, March 12, 2011


After the shouting incident a couple of weeks ago I was pleased to hear that Hannah did great at dance this morning - good listening to the teacher (and no shouting from him). I have also found a dance class just around the corner that is for 5-11yo with a disability. It just started up this month I had to reorganise after school care and pickups etc but it will be worth it. Her swimming instructor is also the dance instructor which I think is fantastic. I bought her a dance costume for the new class and she was very keen to model it.

I have spoken to her teacher about some concerns I have there. She is a lovely person vivacious and approachable but the gap in her understanding about special needs is well and truly showing up. Never mind I think that we will get there. She is going to the NSW DSA workshop so I know she will get a lot out of that. At the moment I think she is overwhelmed by what she sees as Hannah's deficits - when the issue for me is her deficits!! There are some pretty simple organisational things that can be done to make things run more smoothly so I will be looking to see when and where I can hint or suggest them. I want her to take responsibility for Hannah so am trying to be patient.

Initially I think it is about her developing techniques for managing Hannah's behaviour - she hasn't been able to get Hannah to sit at a desk for any length of time for example or even to leave her bag outside the class. Once she takes control rather than let Hannah be the boss things will get much easier for her. I have dealt with the bag issue - will check that it is still working next week when I help in the class. I did mention to her that the best thing she can do for Hannah's self esteem at the moment is to get her sitting with the other kids doing similar or the same work. When in doubt quiet drawing or reading ... so that Hannah sees herself as a valued part of the class learning. I think the teacher has been afraid to call on Hannah to write on the whiteboard for example because she doesn't want her to 'fail' or be embarassed. I think she needs to give Hannah a go so she sees what she can do and praise her for trying. If she doesn't let Hannah have a go she won't learn just what Hannah can do easily and what she needs help with. At this stage and with such great kids I think it will work. Alternatively for writing on the whiteboard if she finds Hannah can't do it - she could do as usual and then get Hannah to copy the word underneath - so the first child helps by modelling (which they'll like doing) and hannah learns and participates by copying. It broke my heart the other day not to see her even raise her hand to try - when I know in other settings she'd have her hand up in a flash to go do something on the whiteboard.

I also would like to see her paired with one of the advanced girls in the class - a little girl who whizzes through her work and then finds time to socialise etc - her energy and learning could be used positively by training her to 'help' Hannah a little to stay on task. I know she could do it and I know her parents would be happy with that because it might address some of their concerns about her rushing through her work and wasting time. That gives the class teacher time to devote to her other students - surely a win win situation. Last year we agreed to get Hannah working diligently first thing - then she is rewarded just before recess and not pushed so much in the later part of the day which I think is a reasonable and pragmatic approach. Some of this valuable morning time is being wasted unnecessarily at the moment. There is also a box of activities there from last year - the teacher could set it up so that Hannah could get a worksheet or activity from there to 'stretch' her sitting working time more... hence I think the first major hurdle is helping the Teacher gain control of Hannah's behaviour, the rest should follow.

At the moment there is good will but not a lot of joy in the relationship between Hannah and her teacher. I can honestly say that by midyear last year it was very obvious that Hannah's kindy teacher genuinely enjoyed watching Hannah grow and learn (and found her less challenging than some of her peers!). That is where I want to see her Year 1 teacher get to too but I realise it is a journey, a step at a time... we will get there. Team Hannah is unbeatable!! ANd this teacher has some wonderful talents and teaching styles that should enable Hannah to blossom they both need a bit of nurturing at the moment. have started talking to Hannah about it as I find the direct approach in this area works best - so when we talk about it I say to her that it is up to Hannah to show Miss Y just what she can do, the same as the other kids. Show her that you are a Year 1 girl like the others, you can sit at the desk..etc

The teacher said she was happy for a communication book but didn't think one was really necessary cos she sees me about etc... that might be something we need to reconsider..hmm it is on the backburner for now I don't want to alienate her - she is our chance of success but we have to learn to work together on this - she is part of Team Hannah even if she doesn't fully realise what that means yet!

1 comment:

Beth said...

In this picture, with her face down, I could easily assume she was my Hannah!
I'm sorry you're having so much trouble with the school setting. For my Hannah, at the same age, it was important to start off with solid structure and expectations in place so she wouldn't run the show. It's so much more difficult to reign in behavior than it is prevent the behavior in the first place. Our Hannahs are creative enough to find ways to keep themselves busy--much to the dismay of some teachers!

Hoping for calm deep breaths for you, and inspiration for the Year 1 teacher.

I've often said that the biggest disability is the low expectations of others. May Miss Y discover the profound and delightful joys of a child with Down syndrome.