Tuesday, September 09, 2008

My Mentors

I just watched a seasoned first grade teacher walking her class to lunch (yes, it is only 10:45, that's when we have lunch). She had one little friend who was not staying in line and kept touching the walls. She said to him, very kindly, "I'm going to walk with you, friend, because I see that you're having trouble keeping your hands off the walls."

I have this same problem with several students regularly. I make them hold my hand (it's a terrible punishment in the eyes of one, at least). However, I've never put it so gently to them. Listening to her was such a small thing and yet gave me so much to think about. It's amazing what I learn from the other teachers around me.


Karen Janowski said...

You may be surprised to know that some students "need" to run their fingers along the wall as they walk down the hall. Some kids have sensory processing needs where touching the wall gives them the sensory feedback that helps them remain upright against gravity (kinesthetic sense) or which helps them visual-spatially.
As a former school-based OT, these were often the kids who were eventually referred to me for a variety of reasons.
Why do you want them to stop this behavior? It may be serving a purpose that is not readily apparent.
just my 2 cents.

Jenny said...

@Karen That's an interesting concept that hadn't occurred to me. We'll have to look at these kids (at least the ones who consistently want to be touching the wall) carefully.

We tend to discourage the behavior because of all the artwork up on the walls. When the run their hands along as they walk they often pull or tear student work that is displayed.

The Girl said...

I love that you used the word "kindly" to describe how the teacher spoke to her student. I am trying SO hard to find ways to speak kindly to my boys (I have 13 fifth grade boys...just boys...in a room...together...just imagine.). I love them all, and sometimes it is so hard to remember to say things kindly...especially when it is the 345,984th time I've had to repeat it. Sigh. Thank you for the reminder though...I know it is possible :)

Anonymous said...

Just realized I said "kinesthetic sense" in my earlier comment. It should be "vestibular sense."
(Had to correct myself in case any other OTs read your blog!)