He's one of my most enthusiastic students! Eyes on me...no 1-2-3 needed! His eyes are always on me. BUT! Those eyes and that brain can't be connected, I think. Not that this little doggie isn't smart. No! He's a smart little cookie. But he's working too hard to hear the whole thing, wrap his head around it...and then get what he needs to do something about it. Two seconds after I've given directions, he asks me this question, "What are we supposed to do?" OR with the homework board in plain sight, he says, "What's the homework?"
For you new teachers out there, here's the important response to this situation: STEP AWAY FROM THE STUDENT! Take a deep breath, and smile. (Not that sarcastic kind of smile either.) Eager Al is a Nervous Nellie. He wants in his worst way to get everything right. He's a worrier with a capital W! But he's the WORST kind of worrier, because he has a shut-off valve right in the front of the brain. If it looks or smells like directions, Spot...I swear, his brain goes right into sleep mode. You don't even know it! So...we're working on this right now. Breaking down the task, small steps, proximal seating, restating the directions...you know all the RtI lingo. We used it in special education for years, and now it's moved to a theater near us.
Here's what keeps me coming back, though. Eager Al says to me just this week, "Hey, Mrs. Lynch...you know those Pen Pals in Africa?" I say, "Yup, I sure do." I hold my breath thinking about whether he'd turned in his letter, which he did. I look over at him and he's smiling the broadest smile I've seen all year, and he says,"I'm really going to make this a friendship that will last." Makes me smile just to think about it. (Now follow my friend John's blog...so you can see where are letters are traveling to: http://bridgesofpeaceandhope.blogspot.com/)