On the Way to the Speech Room
Although children can be quite a challenge they can also bring a good laugh. The funny things that happen are what keep us going when work gets stressful. I thought it would be nice to have a page for those funny moments that brought a good laugh for your day. I will share a few moments to get us started. Please feel welcome to share any that have happened to you. Just add them to the comment section of this page. Please remember to avoid real names to protect the innocent.
1. A few years ago I worked with students in a self- classroom program that was housed on an elementary school campus. They shared the playground with the regular education kids at noon recess. Adults were employed as recess aides to monitor the students. They handed out written reprimands to students for breaking playground rules. One of the little girls I worked with happened to have Downs Syndrome. She spoke mainly in single words or short phrases. This was quite an accomplishment because she didn’t have any expressive language a year before. She also had a few articulation errors to include an s that sounded like a sh sound. One day she was trying to tell another child she wanted her to sit beside her. A playground aide didn’t quite understand her disability and overheard her. She received a written reprimand for using swear words on the playground. The teacher couldn’t resist calling up the parent to tell the transgression. A child who didn’t speak the year before was written up for talking. An event that was worth celebrating.
2. In one school, the room I used for therapy was attached behind the health room which was attached to the office. Except for the door it didn’t have any connections with the rest of the building. Once the door was shut it was pretty isolated. I always gave students and teachers a clock that they taped on their desk to remind them of their speech time. Despite all the reminders I have students that don’t remember and I end up walking to their classroom to pick them up. One day I was walking to pick up a student and he was just exiting his classroom. I just assumed he was coming for his designated time and didn’t think anything of it. We went to the therapy room to work for the next 30 minutes on his speech. When we emerged, we found the office to be in an emergency state. It seems they had lost a student. I was surprised to find the student was the one I was working with. I hadn’t realized that the teacher had forgotten his speech time. She had sent him out to the hallway as a disciplinary action. When she checked on him she found he was gone and assumed he had tried to walk home. She had sounded out an alarm and they were arranging a search party.
3. One day I had one too many people ask me how the peach room was doing. I thought it was a little odd everyone seemed to have a speech impediment. It turned out the S had fallen from my door sign. My room continued to be called the peach room for the rest of the year.
4. I give a paper clock to my students showing their speech time and then spend most of the school year training them to come at the appropriate time. If I’m lucky I will have one individual that will be diligent about time and alert the others of the group. It appears it is just as hard to break the cycle of coming as it is to get them to come.
I usually give some sort of party to celebrate the last day and mark the final session of the year. Today I had a student come to my door to ask if it was speech time. I reviewed the party we had at the last week and what it meant to be at the end. I told her we would have speech again next school year. She turned to leave but decided she had one more question. ‘She wanted to know if we would have speech on Thursday. Maybe they just like to talk to me?
5. What happens when you try to test Kindergarten? How valuable is that test score really? Sometimes you just have to laugh. My district, like many has decided to extend it’s progress monitoring to Math. It has decided to adopt a new math program. Interestingly the program was established in Singapore and in it’s original form did not include Kindergarten. Apparently their Kindergarten is not set up for the academic rigor we feel Kindergarten needs to be in the USA. Never fear, a Kindergarten level was slapped together just for the USA customers. Interestingly some of the concepts don’t quite match up with English concepts. You mean bigger doesn’t necessarily mean heavier? Don’t worry, a highly qualified teacher will fix that problem. Oops! You mean that shows up on the computer test?
A computer Math test was included for Kindergarten level. The test requires students to sit at a computer and listen to instructions over headphones. Kindergartener’s have difficulty reading you know. They are then suppose to use the mouse to select the correct answer from a set of four possible answers. Of course this type of test gives no reinforcement for the answer. The test has 45 questions and takes approximately 45 minutes which would be quite a feat for a 5 year old to attend under the best conditions.
You need to know a little bit about this Kindergarten class to appreciate what happened. Two of the children have autism. They are sensitive to loud noises and don’t particularly like headphones. They also like some sort of reinforcement with their selection or there is no motivation to continue on. Ten of the children are English learners. One has been in country for less then a month. The ELL program uses a computer program that requires students to repeat back what they hear over headsets.
So let the testing commence. The ELL students equate computer and headphones with their ELL program. They begin repeating what they hear over the head phones, “How many cars do you see?” They don’t understand the instructions and have trouble with the prompt to choose an answer. One student with autism decides the speaker is too loud and proclaims he should “shut up” because he is too loud. The other student starts clicking frantically trying to find some sort of reinforcement. He decides the right answer must be there somewhere. Usually something happens when you find the right spot. Another student decides this is really a boring program and they should just stop. He proclaims this several times. Of course this doesn’t happen so it is proclaimed through out the testing session. One poor guy dutifully chooses his answers but does deep sighs throughout the testing period. It must have seemed like an never ending task to him. So how much were those test scores worth in the end. I bet if they had asked the teacher she would’ve been able to tell there strength and weaknesses. Of course it wouldn’t have been a number.