NEW TOOLS IN THE TOOL KIT

By | 2018-01-22T08:43:52+00:00 January 22, 2018|Custom-Fit Education, Middle School|

BY: KARL FRIESEN, MIDDLE SCHOOL EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANT

A large part of being an Educational Assistant (EA) is working towards small every day successes.

For the past three years, I have worked with a student through grade 6, 7, and now in grade 8. Seeing students mature in the classroom is such a privilege.

I just finished my EA certificate the month before I joined ACMS in April 2016. On my first day of middle school, I was thrown into the deep-end and from that day forward, have continued learning how to be a better EA.

I was brought on to work one–on-one with a student in grade 6. My goals were simple; be with the student, go somewhere else if student becomes too distracting for the class environment, and go to the gym (when not in use) to use up excess energy. He had a very simple schedule.

Part of the class

This year, that same student who is now in grade 8, wants to be in the classroom participating and requesting which students he wants to hang out with by using their name. He uses his iPad to plan what activity he wants to do with them. It has been exciting to see is how his fellow students have chosen to interact with him. They have matured to the point of knowing how to interact with him. For example, in Physical Education (PE), when he participates, his classmates let him play to the best of his ability and celebrate his participation, even if it doesn’t benefit their team.

A growing tool kit

This student has grown so much since my first day.

Usually during morning break and lunch, he unwinds watching YouTube videos, but the other day he chose to communicate on his iPad and the app he would prefer to use. This little milestone shows how he is building his communication “tool kit,” expressing his wants in a way that is comprehensible to those around him and most importantly, his growing and diversifying free time activities.

Today, he followed a two-step instruction.

I needed to talk with a fellow staff member so I told him, “You can go to the resource room and read. Your books are there on the counter.” Which he accomplished. When I arrived during his grade 6 year, if he got out of the line of sight, there was no guarantee to know where he would go.

Now on good days, when he is able to work hard, we can trust him to go to a room and start a task independently. This shows his growing ability in his receptive communication skills but also his willingness to follow instructions.

I have also learned and grown since my first day.

I learned how to ask the right question so he can convey what is on his mind. I’ve learned from my fellow EA’s how to dialogue and come up with new ideas that will work with our students. 

So I guess we’ve both added new tools in our tool kit. And, isn’t that the way it should work? 

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

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Juanita Reitsema
Juanita Reitsema

I have seen you only occasionally at work but am always so impressed at the rapport you two have built, and the mutual respect between you. You are very good with your student, great at communicating with him, and always fair and caring. He will be well prepared for the move up to high school when that time ultimately comes. Thank you, Karl, and all the caring EAs at ACS!

Heike
Heike

I really like that you have focused on how you have both grown int his process in your communication skills.

Kristen
Kristen

Great Post Karl!! So blessed to have to you apart of our team!!

Jim Parussini
Jim Parussini

Hi Karl. This is Jim Parussini, Bryce’s Grand father. Thank you so much for sharing, Bryce’s growth but also yours. Thank you so much for your dedication, patience, love and care for Bryce. It is so awesome to hear that his piers accept him and are patient with him. You so often here the other side of special need kids getting bullied and ostersized. We are so very thankful for you and what you have been able to accomplish with Bryce. We know he loves you as a teacher. Blessings from all of our family. Jim

Elaine Winter
Elaine Winter

Hi Karl, I remember chatting with you in the kitchen at OBC, and you were wondering how things were going to work out for you. There was some frustration and loss. Now reading this, I see that GOd has lead you ad has put you in such a special place. I hope this boys hears your laughter slot, because it is contagious and can only bring joy to the classroom!

Zina VanBergeyk
Zina VanBergeyk

Hi Karl, thanks for this post! It is very encouraging to me. We are friends of Bryces family and am always amazed at some of the stories we hear about the challenges that Kristen and Will face with this very special boy but also the tremendous Joy he brings!… It indeed does take a village to raise a child!
God Bless you in you work!… And grant you Wisdom and strength to make a difference in the lives of Children faced with challenges!….Zina Van Bergeyk

Wendy Enns
Wendy Enns

Thanks so much for sharing Karl! I love your description of learning being a two-way street. It’s wonderful to hear about the growth of a student who we learned so much from at the elementary school. 😀

Kathy Syme
Kathy Syme

Well said. The growth in you both over this time is amazing. The student is calm and focused on the task at hand most of the time. Communication has improved grestly. Good job, both of you! Celebrate!

Gramma and Grampa
Gramma and Grampa

Hello Karl, we are very pleased to hear of the progress that our grandson is making, especially in this very pivotal year. As a former teacher I know that your role and support in the classroom and in Bryce’s life is vital to his success. We look forward to hearing more news and seeing the results of the hard work that both you and Bryce are putting in.