Sunday, December 2, 2012

Shhh...when we can't use our words

On a recent dark, chilly fall evening, a three year old child wandered out of his home un-noticed by his parents. His departure was, however, observed by the family dog, a large neutered  male Pit Bull, who took it upon himself to follow the little boy and stay close by his side. 

This adorable pup and his microchip saved his three year old brother, without even a single bark. Read more at:

This year we have a student that started Kindergarden that has been diagnosed with Selective Mutism. When she started our school she didn't say a word and constantly wore a stone face, but to date I am proud to share that the students have reported they aren't able to work because "she was chatting too much."

I remember meeting with the mom and the beginning of the year and we discussed what would happen if she got lost. The fear is having too much identifying information on her, because that could be just as unsafe. When I saw this article at I really thought wow wouldn't it be amazing to help train therapy dogs for these students and the dog carries the identifying information.!

Watch a wonderful video from ABC on Selective Mutism here:

 I also want to share a tip that our counseling supervisor shared with me this year. It has to be one of the single best tips I have gotten this year! Often when students are angry, frustrated, mad, upset, struggling we say "Do you need help?" and then probably follow up it with a little talk that goes something like "When you need help you need to ask an adult for help. I can't help you when you get upset, you need to use your words and calm down." Well as my supervisor pointed out many of our students don't have the maturity or skills to do this yet. When we ask them if they want help we are teaching them that if they get frustrated enough, melt down, then someone will step in and help. So instead of asking when the student gets upset just look at them and say "I need help." That's it. Model the words you want them to use.

Sounds crazy right, well I tried it out this week. I was working with a student that just won't complete any work. I could see he was getting frustrated so I said " I need help."  He looked at me puzzled so I continued "I would be glad to help you....." We did a problem together and I let him continue alone. A little while later I could see that same look so I said "I need help" and we repeated the scenario. As if on cue (seriously it was straight out of a training video) another girl walked up and said "Ms. Filtness can you help me?" I went above and beyond with the "Yes_____ I would LOVE to help you. Thanks for asking for help." You would have thought she won the lottery. About two minutes later my student looked and me and said "I need help." I almost fainted with excitement. He got it!

I shared this strategy with another teacher who has a student that melts down. We are creating a cool down area for him and I suggested when he got upset to just say "I need to go to my cool down spot." Today he melted she used the cue and I am happy to report he pouted right over to his spot. I'll blog more on this later, but I had to share this tip!

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