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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

One word…“Meltdown”

Rather than go topic by topic today let me just summarize what JD liked and what he did not like.

He liked devotion, the 40 Days reading, social studies, and language arts. He did NOT like math. We did not do email/snail mail or science. We did not do these because social studies and a math time meltdown consumed our time like a wild fire.

Math was fairly simple today. We did “interpreting remainders” and “math order of operations.” But when he kept trying to do the math in his head he kept getting the wrong answer. This contributed to his poor self esteem issue and the beginning of a complete meltdown. I tried once again to get him to write out the division, but there was head lowering, sighing, and “oh man’s.” I was also trying to understand how he solved this math in his head. I kept trying to make him assume the role of our "group leader" and teach me. But words cannot express the confusion between his explanation and my lack of understanding. I said, “You're way is not getting us the right answer." (Like how I didn't say "Your answer is wrong.") I asked him to try it the way I was doing it (and the school taught him, and the computer taught him) so I can see where he’s getting the information mixed up. But we couldn’t get past these two revolving topics: I hate learning and I’m always wrong!

I can hear all of the Grandmother's asking, “Then what did you tell him?” It was a VERY long conversation/calm down period because FCA didn’t end until 3:20pm, so I can’t remember all the details of the conversations.
1. I hate learning! I said something like, "We're learning this stuff together. We're both students together. You are not alone in this."
2. I'm always answering wrong. I said something like, "You're LEARNING. People make mistakes. We LEARN from our mistakes. Just look at this problem from a different point of view and try it my way."
3. I hate learning! (Again..?)
4. I told him he's good at alot of things. I showed him his scores thus far. Then it was, "I'm a nerd. I don't want to be a nerd." I said, "You're not a nerd you are smart about alot of things. You LEARNED all of things in just two weeks."
5. Learning is hard for me. I said, "Yes it is. It's tough for all of us. But I need you to tell me how to make it better. Math isn't going to be as fun as language arts because you are learning processes and steps to solving problem. But before you know it, it too will be added to the list of stuff you have learned."

You get the point right?

I kept trying to get into his mind today during math. I wanted to know what the delay was when I asked him to write the problem on the screen to his paper. Some (former teachers, family, and friends) might think this is a discipline issue. Well I’m here to tell you I am seeing first hand and it is not a discipline issue. He was unable to communicate to me what the delay was. After over 20 hours of research at least (no kidding), it is noted that children with written expression problems, comprehension problems, and processing speed problems have difficulty moving words/problems from books to papers or from minds to paper. Ex: JD had the option to mark in his test book instead of coloring in the bubble sheet. I guess there were lots of mistakes from other ADHD kids too. So I understood a delay, but wow add a frustrated student and it tends to get a bit longer.

I also had to play the role of psychologist today. I said, "Why do you lock and get so frustrated when asked to write something?" He couldn't tell me. I said, "What are you FEELING? Sad, angry, lonely, frustrated?" He was too embarrassed to answer. I said, "Are you mad at me for making you write things out instead of keeping all those numbers in your head?" Yes he was. (FINALLY! A break through.) I said, "Well, once you show me you CAN do it, I will write the rest. But get used to writing because I can't do it for you during your annual test." (Again trying to figure out what is important here...solving the math problem, not the writing.)

The military taught me when you have bad news (EX: math meltdown) to deliver, follow it up with something positive. So here goes...social studies today was a blast! We hung our new 50 states wall map (that he found at the store and said we needed) and placed push pins on different states. Get ready...he created (WROTE!) a legend for us (without me telling him to) I know right? We sang the 50 Nifty United States song together at least three times, and finally did a USA puzzle. So while there was MAJOR bump in the road, we did have some great bonding time. He asked me to do the puzzle with him and I excused myself to go make us lunch. Before you know it I was down on the ground assembling the edges. He commented, "You know I pulled you into this right?" (Oh little Mr. Hyder...love ya.)

I love my gift from God and this job is GREAT. (I get paid in hugs, kisses, and "I love you's...even today!)

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