Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Tale of Two Teachers

Anyone who has gone through education school has learned about the Pygmalion effect, which essentially says that people conform to the expectations that are placed on them. If you've been following the blog for a while, you know that we had a lot of issues with Dean's teacher last year.

Among them all, the biggest and most difficult thing for me to swallow was the conviction that she just didn't believe in Dean. He responded accordingly, consistently underperforming for her. I tried to explain what we knew that Dean knew, and she was reluctant to believe us. I was told that his speech delay was more a function of his delayed cognition than of motor planning issues (which Dean has always had) or low muscle tone. His fine motor difficulties were, once again, supposedly functions of a lack of not understanding the task at hand. It took an OT evaluation for her to realize that he did indeed have specific fine motor weaknesses that were holding him back.

Today, Dean's current teacher in his special ed. class came for a home visit (they do these once a month). She said to Dean, "Dean, did you tell Mommy and Daddy how big your brain is and how smart you are?" She said to me, "This kid is really smart. I already have to change a lot of his IEP goals because he's met a lot of them. He needs some harder goals." Apparently Dean knows all this colors and basic shapes (this is news to me!). He engages well with the other kids, has a favorite friend (a little boy named Aiden), plays with a variety of toys, and even has been fingerpainting and doing art projects (this is the part where I was really wondering if she was talking about my kid). Dean still has obvious deficits in expressive speech and fine motor skills, but overall, things are great. She said that from the evaluation his teacher last year wrote of him, you would think that him just walking into the classroom was a big deal. She assured me that this was not at all our little boy - something we already knew and tried to get his teacher last year to see. I was fighting back tears just listening to all of it. His current teacher *clearly* believes in him and knows what he is capable of. She said that he'll be in her classroom again next year and then will likely be mainstreamed in Kindergarten with an hour a day in the special ed class for support. Fantastic!

CHILDREN KNOW WHAT TEACHERS EXPECT OF THEM AND ACT ACCORDINGLY. Believing in children *works.*

3 comments:

Janet Gulley said...

AMEN!

Lisa said...

I agree! And more than that, children believe in themselves when parents believe in them. It can be overwhelming when you stop and think how much impact you (and others) can have on your sweet babies.

Candice said...

That is wonderful!!