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Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Check In. Check Out.

Oh my gosh I had a rough day today! 

I substituted for a full day in a bilingual class of first and second graders. 

Does anyone know what Check In Check Out is? If you work in a school, or have children that go to a school that uses this, you probably know what it is. For the rest of you, a brief tutorial. 

You may know what Response To Intervention is? Basically it is a system where they will identify children who may eventually be referred to special education for their learning needs... but before they can get referred, they have to not respond to intervention. So they will get extra help in reading, math, or both... whichever one they are having difficulty with. If they improve quickly with help, and catch up to the other kids, RTI is successful. If they don't, they get  more help. If they don't respond to that, they get even more help. If they're still not improving, then maybe they have a learning disability and need special education. 

Check In Check Out (I don't know it's official name but the kids call it that) is similar, except for behavioral needs. They identify children who have a lot of emotional or behavioral issues in school. Each kid gets a "mentor," which can be any staff member in the school... other teachers, teacher's aides, music teacher, etc... any one who is not a teacher or aide in that child's actual classroom. When the child gets to school, he "checks in" right away with his mentor, basically to start the day out seeing a friendly person and getting some on-on-one encouragement. Then, every forty minutes or so, the child "checks in" with his classroom teacher to get feedback on his behavior... the teacher circles a smiley, straight, or sad face on the child's sheet. Before lunch, the child goes and "checks in" with his mentor to talk about how his day is going and get some extra feedback and encouragement. And at the end of the day, he "checks out" with the mentor to talk about how the day went. I think it is a cool idea because, for kids who are struggling with their behavior, having someone in the school who is not directly in charge of you in your classroom to give you encouragement and feedback throughout the day, cannot be a bad thing. I never worked in a school that used this, but I did some observations in schools that used it, back when I was still in college. The schools were just starting to learn about it at that time. Most classrooms will have at least one, and maybe two or three, kids who do Check In Check Out. 

The classroom I worked in today had thirteen Check In Check Out kids! More than half of the kids in the class! (And about half of the other ten probably could have used it.) 

This isn't to say they were bad kids at all... they were all very sweet in their own ways. But it shows that, in general, they do not put a lot of value in respecting adults. And they didn't do anything bad at all... they were just noisy and chaotic. For example, in most of the classrooms where I've subbed so far, although they are always a little noisy, there are usually certain things that will quiet them down, like doing a particular activity, or saying a certain phrase ("One two three, eyes on me!" seems popular.) These kids... they just kept going and going and going! They got very little work done because they were always talking, and they took four and a  half hours to transition to any new activity. My voice grew hoarse, not from yelling, but just from trying to give directions and imploring them to be quiet! 

(Does anyone know how to say "quiet down" in Spanish? I always thought it was "Callate," but then someone told me that actually means more like "Shut up," so I didn't want to chance using it!) 

All this wouldn't have bothered me a whole lot... I wouldn't have taken it personally. Except that the actual teacher was not really absent. She was in a different room, testing kids, and she was in and out all day. So each time she would come in, see the chaos, and yell at the kids in Spanish... oh yeah because there was the pesky language barrier as well... and I'd just be standing there, feeling awkward and embarrassed. 

You can tell how stressed out I was by the fact that, this morning I was wearing blue sparkly nail polish,  and by the end of the school day, I had peeled most of it off! 

So, yeah. Probably won't accept a job in that particular classroom again! 

In a completely different awkward moment, at lunch in the teachers' lounge, some staff members (I assume teachers but maybe aides too) were talking, and the topic of a certain adoption agency came up. One teacher was talking about how she had been adopted from there. Another teacher said that this agency had "ripped off" her neighbors. She explained that the neighbors had arranged to adopt a baby, and had paid for the adoption to occur, but at the very last minute... the would-be parents were already in the car with the car seat installed, on the way to the hospital...  the birth mother had changed her mind. And supposedly the adoption agency had kept all of the fees associated with the adoption for that individual child, even though said child didn't end up being adopted. If the family wanted to try adopting another child, they would have to start all over with coming up with the fees. 

So then another staff member (an older woman) piped up, "They (the adoption agency) ripped off some friends of mine too!" She went on, "If you adopt a black child, you're supposed to pay half price. Well, my friends adopted a black baby. And the agency billed them for the full price! Of course, by then, my friends didn't want to return the baby, so they had to pay the full price!" 

All of the other staff members started choking on their food and giving the staff member "WTF" looks. But the staff member went on, "And he was a really black baby! As black as can be!" 

I swear, this is pretty much verbatim. From a staff member at a school. I am pretty sure she was an actual teacher, even. 

And with that, I am going to "check out" and go take a nap. 

1 comment :

  1. I like that idea of Check In, Check Out. I think that students would definitely benefit from having a special staff member to be able to go to and talk during the day. I'd be interested to see how effective it really is.

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