jes m
United States
tulsa
Oklahoma
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I have had the privilege of teaching a very small group of boys who have significant intellectual disabilities for the past two school years. They are in middle school and we spend, on average, 30 hours a week together.

Now we are nearing the end of semester and they will soon be leaving my school for the big scary freshman academy.

This week we began our second board game creating unit, and yesterday I took my copy of "Survive Escape from Atlantis" to school so we could play it. Due to absences, it was only myself and these four boys in class that day.

We had so much fun. They have collectively decided that knocking my pieces into the water or eating them with sharks is pretty much the best thing ever. Matched only by wiping out entire boats full of my meeples with sea monsters. And I lost each game horribly, but every single one of them was engaged and laughing.

Of course I spent the entire time helping with rules, but I also got to work with the boy who struggles to take a joke and always takes things personally. "See? Even though Joe ate all my people, I'm still having fun. Isn't it more fun to enjoy this?" And his answer was yes, and we kept playing.

I got to coach one about counting carefully. And by the end, my constant reminders that pushing the pieces around messed up the game, has made him more spatially aware.

I got to remind another about patience. It's okay to wait your turn, and it's not your decision what other students do.

I got to teach the last that it's his turn, and his decision. And remind him that I always want to know what he thinks, even if it takes a few minutes for him to decide.

But mostly I just watched them all play, in awe of how much they had grown in two school years. In awe of just how much I'm going to miss them. They are like family, little brothers, and I can't stand to see them move on.

Sitting around that horseshoe table, just the five of us for maybe the last time, meant more to me than any of my board gaming experiences so far.

And I am so grateful I have had this opportunity.
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Calavera Despierta
United States
Tucson
Arizona
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As a teacher, I love reading narratives like this. Real teaching arises not from curriculum, not from standards, but from our basic humanity. Thank you for the reminder.
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jes m
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MScrivner wrote:
As a teacher, I love reading narratives like this. Real teaching arises not from curriculum, not from standards, but from our basic humanity. Thank you for the reminder.


I agree. It's so easy to get bogged down and feel the pressures from testing, and paperwork, and all the other things that go along with "teaching". What really matters is helping students become the best humans they can be.
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