Ok bear with me! You probably read the title and thought to yourself what is she griping about now?! I really want you to stop and think, "Are you a well meaning adult?"
I'm talking the the adult that knows just what every student needs. The type of adult that sees a student acting out in the hallway and rushes over to help because that student needs to learn respect and you are just the person to do it. You may have experience with children because you are a teacher, parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle. Maybe you volunteered at your religious organization's youth camp or coached some sort of organized sports. Whatever the circumstance, you know kids and you care, so who better to help than you?!
For a special educator or an informed parent, well meaning adults can sometimes be our worst enemy. I have had students who on the surface are rude, oppositional and most times down right mean. But as a special educator, I am trained to deal with that. So many times, I have almost had a student calm and ready to move on, only to have a well meaning adult come along and say something like, "You really need to show your teacher some respect." Now to be fair that is a very true statement. But to a child who is going into fight or flight mode, all they hear is "You are a horrible student," which sets them off even more.
Don't get me wrong your concern is appreciated. In fact your words may be helpful to the student when they are calm and willing to listen. So what can you do in the moment that you see a situation that concerns you? Here are some tips:
- Make immediate contact with the teacher. If it is in the moment, address only the teacher by saying something like, "Are you ok?" If the teacher replies in the affirmative, continue on your way. If the teacher indicates that they need assistance, follow their lead.
- Make contact with the teacher later. If the teacher has said they didn't need assistance, speak with the teacher later to find out some information about the student and how you can help.
- Get to know the student when they are calm. Establishing a positive relationship with the student is key. Next time the student is in a crisis, you may be able to assist, but still follow the lead of the teacher.
Nothing is wrong with being a well meaning adult. At times, I'm one myself and I have to remember to think before I act. You don't want a student to have a negative perception of you.
Until next time, read on!