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Supporting the Class as a Whole

When I wasn’t helping Ethan, I still had nine other boys to support. I needed to take a closer look at each child in order to provide them with the skills they were lacking. Below, you'll read about the different interventions I implemented with four boys.

Boosting Self-Confidence: Joe

Joe was one of the smartest boys in the class. However, he was very self-conscious. He graduated from occupational therapy, speech therapy and physical therapy. He could have been in general ed, but he was not ready.  His hair used to be long and pulled back into a ponytail so many of his friends called him a girl.  He cut his hair this year and seemed to be growing up.  
Joe needed to learn his self-worth. He said he couldn’t write as much as another peers because his hands hurt. I gave Joe a stress ball and reminded him to squeeze it every night to strengthen his writing muscles. The most important thing I could do for him was get him to write in a self-confidence journal. I promised him that if he wrote in his journal every day, then I would write in mine.

Reducing Auditory Distractions: Richie

A few students in my class had problems with auditory distractions. This was usually during any independent work time. Richie, who was on the autism spectrum, was afraid to use the bathroom because the fire alarm bell sometimes went off.

I cut the cords off of several old headphones and let him use it to screen out noise. Richie began to use the headphones to go to the bathroom and eventually did not need them anymore.


Providing Structure: Donnie

Donnie gave me and the paraprofessionals a run for our money. He was smart, funny, and sweet. He was on the autism spectrum with his own crisis paraprofessional. I learned fast what his likes and dislikes were. I was also able to get him a different paraprofessional that was more suitable to his needs.

Donnie required a visual schedule, fidget toys, a taped parameter for his spot in the meeting area, a seat cushion, and a menu of reward choices. It is important for children on the autism spectrum--as well as any child--to have structure, positive reinforcement, and choices.

Creating Safe, Productive Spaces: David

For David, I set up a system so that when he completed his task within an allotted time, he could pick his choice of rewards. We used a sand timer for David to sit for three minutes in the meeting area. If he sat for three minutes, he would receive his reward, a fidget toy, a snack, or a book.
Eventually, we lowered the expectation to one minute without an aggressive behavior and, in exchange, he got to hold his toy for one minute as a reward. My boys became little gentlemen: They would hold his toy over his demarcated meeting area spot and would keep it for him until the timer ran out of sand. They would also help him by holding his hand, tracing letters and shapes onto the plastic bag I filled with paint.
To help David be more independent during writing time, I turned a giant storage container into his writing area.  He would sit inside the box to write and call it his “spaceship.” He loved using it and soon enough his friends would ask to use it, too.

Throughout the year, I used many different methods to try and help my students. Ultimately, I learned that teaching them social and emotional learning was of prime importance. If they didn’t have the skills needed to cope with their everyday distractions and tasks, they would not have been able to learn. Next year, I am very honored to be working with my boys again and look forward to helping them grow into big second graders. I hope you are able to use some of my interventions. I thoroughly enjoyed writing my inquiry and I hope you enjoyed reading it, too.