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Your Biggest Fear - aka. "How I told my students"

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Your Biggest Fear - aka. "How I told my students"

I have a lot of other moms that I've connected with who are also teachers.  Come to think of it - other than being a SAHM, I would guess most of the WHS moms I know are teachers.  I've been asked several times how I told my students about Alexander.  In a lesson.  Here it is:

Each student got a piece of paper.  I used the board.  I was not going to collect the papers and they only had to share if they felt comfortable.

On our papers, we all wrote our 3 biggest fears.  I wrote mine on the board after giving them some time to figure out theirs on their own.  Mine were:  An unhealthy child.  The death of one of my children or husband, and becoming a quadriplegic.  I gave an opportunity to share - but no pressure.

Next.  They had to pick 1 fear.  And for that fear - they had to pretend it happened.  How would their life change?  (It is at this point the class starts getting pretty depressing.)  They had to write down all the things about their life that would change.  I gave them some wait time and then I picked quadriplegic.  I wrote on the board all the things about my life that would have changed.  I wouldn't be able to dress myself, or get myself in and out of a chair/bed.   I wouldn't be able to make dinner for my family, I wouldn't be able to drive, I wouldn't be able to play with my kids, I wouldn't be able to work, I wouldn't really "fit" in my house.  (The idea here is to go ahead and paint a bleak picture.  This is what people do when hit with crushing news).

Now for the life changing part.... For each negative - they have to write a way around it.  What would you do? You can't live in a world of can't and wouldn't.  How would they actively work to change their perspective on life?  I give them plenty of wait time for this, then I go ahead with my quadriplegic fear.  I would hire a nurse to come and help me get dressed and move around.  I would watch my kids make dinner if I couldn't do it.  We would need to get a bigger vehicle that is handicap accessible - and I would have to make sure people were around to drive me.  I might not be able to "play" with my kids, but I can make sure I'm in the same room with them and watch them play.  I would have to collect disability or possibly teach cyber school.  We might need to build a bigger addition on our house so my "chair" would maneuver a little better. Life moves on - with you or without you.  At some point - everyone is dealt with news they think is too much to bear.  The key is finding a way around this news.  Face your fears, build a plan, act on that plan, don't wallow in the world of lost dreams.

Still my favorite picture
It is at this point that I did the same activity for fear #1.  I  told my students that my first fear actually came true.  Here is how our life changed.  Here are all the "what if's."  all the "wouldn't, couldn't, etc."  Here is how we got around it.  We have a nurse who takes care of Alexander.  We give Alexander seizure medicine to control his seizures.  We have OT and PT that comes in.  I celebrated all his triumphs. 

Honestly - I think this was one of my most powerful lessons ever.  It was a humbling experience to share like that, but I really think being a role model for how to overcome obstacles is something so much more important.  I think some times adolescents think adults are infallible.  They think we never worry or have fears.  I also think it helped to put into check some of the "drama" that sometimes occurs.  I do know that students have told me - that after that - they tried to keep in perspective their fight with their best friend's old best friend's boyfriend's sister... etc.

So.... that is how I told my students of our life's circumstances.


At July 7, 2011 at 4:42 PM , Blogger Hilary said...

You confirmed what I already suspected, you are an amazing teacher. You inspire me!

At July 7, 2011 at 10:00 PM , Blogger Kristen said...

Hilary - I love you! Before school starts - we can talk about life some day.


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