Half a Cup of Blues

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Perception ...

Seeing is believing, right?

Well, it doesn't work that way in special education. Especially not at our level. Our kids are what public schools refer to as the bottom of the barrel. The 1% of kids that nobody wants and that every school in the state of California has kicked to the curb. In this era of budget crunches can you imagine how bad a kid has to be for the schools to pay over 5x the daily rate to place a kid at our school? That is some serious money. And , trust me, they pay it willingly. You can almost see their eyes roll back in their heads with fear if we talk about sending a kid back to public school.

In fact, they tell us that they'll believe these kids are "fixed" when they see it. And they need to "see" it for up to 6 months just to be sure! Yeah, right. That's realistic (not).

Have you ever heard of self-fulfilling prophesy?

Basically, it means that you will find exactly what you expect to find.

If you expect a kid to be bad then you will find every single thing that could be even remotely interpreted as defiant and it will be a glaring example of how RIGHT you were to not trust these kids. You will see it BECAUSE you believe it.

I don't operate that way. I believe in the goodness that I will find. I believe that they will be successful. I can see it long before even the kid can. I can paint that picture with details so clear and real that the kid will see it, too. And they will BE that good kid. Oh, they'll make mistakes. We all do. But it is amazing how they will RISE to the highest levels of expectations when they know that you belive in them.

Unfortunately, they are fragile while they begin to blossom and it takes a lot of effort to protect them from the elements. One scornful person can take 10 minutes and undo what a team of people spent weeks building. We know that. We try to give them enough time to get stronger before we send them back into the scornful world that has already rejected them. Some of them will make it and some of them won't. It is a tough world out there.

Every now and then we hear back from the kids that have left us. And not just the successful ones. Some kids write to us from college and some write to us from prison. And some we read about in the obituaries.

When you see a kid out there in the world and they are struggling just try to remember that if just one person really believed in them maybe they'd be doing something different. A hand UP is not the same thing as a hand out. Be a mentor if you have the time. Spend more time with your own kids. Believe in them.

See the goodness in them until they believe it, too.


  • I've read this idea about expectations before. I can't remember for sure, but I think it was either in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People or in The Magic of Self-Direction. Personal experience has taught me that this works, regardless of age. Keep it up!

    By Blogger Yibbyl, at 3/15/2006 11:01 PM  

  • This is so right on for many reasons. As a former (and future) teacher descended from a long line of teachers (including special ed), I have to agree that tracking was one of the worst ideas ever inflicted on grammar schooling, for the reasons that you list and more.

    After all, kids don't have their growths spurts all at the same time. There's no reason to think they all reach their intellectual peak at the same time.

    (Maybe twins do, but you would know better than I).

    By Blogger X. Dell, at 3/16/2006 9:15 AM  

  • thank god for you! may there be many more like you in the world, such a blessing!


    by way of Brians round up

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/19/2006 1:07 AM  

  • I know all children are so different. thank you for this blog..*hugs*

    By Blogger Stephanie, at 3/20/2006 7:40 AM  

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