Thursday, January 14, 2010

All Kinds Of Minds Indeed

When I worked at the Waco School for Girls in Pottersville, New Jersey, the lunatic in charge head of school, David Koresh Jenifer, had all the faculty participate in some ol' bullshit this professional development program called All Kinds of Minds. This program was geared towards kids who were not succeeding in a traditional school environment (i.e. ALL of the girls at Waco) and the tools we as educators (and parents) needed to change all that.

At first I was all rolling my eyes and not in the mood to personalize all of my classroom lessons to 15 different learning styles. I mean really- if you can't learn the regular way then go work at McDonald's because every time I go there I have to wait all day for fresh fries so clearly they're understaffed! Haven't these people ever heard, the world needs ditch-diggers, too?

It wasn't until after I left that awful, horrible, no good place that I realized that program was onto something because I, too, have trouble succeeding academically in a traditional classroom setting. Not that I've ever been tested or diagnosed, but even with my little bit of teaching experience and my extensive background in being a student, I could tell the idea behind this program was not a sham.

Everyone does learn differently, and need different things to help them do well in school. Me, I'm what's considered a cross between a visual & interactive learner. This means my brain has trouble processing information that I hear, but if I'm shown this information in a hands-on way I'm able to grasp it better. The reason? My mind will hear something, and in that something one to two words will trigger a thought unrelated to what's going on and next thing you know it's been five minutes and I've missed everything you've just said.

Is there medication for this? Hell- they've got medication for the pins and needles you feel in your leg when you've been sitting on it too long, I'm super sure there are meds for this. But a better, drug-free solution, in my opinion, is to help a child learn in a fashion that their brain is able to handle. Is this costly and unavailable in many schools? Yes. Are there kids that genuinely need medication? Eh, maybe. My point is, there's an alternative.

As much as I LOATHED my time at Waco it really helped me when dealing with my own children, whether we're dealing with academic or behavioral matters. K seems to be rather auditory in her learning; I can tell her something, she'll say "got it" and keep it moving. N, on the other hand, seems to be more in tune with my style of learning where if you talk at her too much you will lose her. Even when I discipline her I keep my reprimands short, sweet, to the point and always try to preface it with "look at my face" and end it with "what did I just say?" (see, if you make them repeat it you can gauge if your point got across)

Why are we talking about this? Because some really nice people offered to talk me through my computer problems and I had to abruptly shut them down. Not because I'm a lazy ungrateful bitch but because you TELLING me how to fix my computer, short of saying "unplug it and start over" is not going to work and take twenty times as long than someone sitting at the desk, showing me how it needs to be fixed. Guaranteed I'll know how to fix it on my own from then on.

It's the basic "give the man a fish..." situation. Writing instructions, to my brain, is like giving me a fish. Coming over here and SHOWING me is, well, showing me how to fish. It may sound backwards to you, but I think we already knew that about my brain, no?

*smooches...for all those with special learning needs*
part of being a great student is knowing your learning style and being vocal about it. It's the only way I was able to get through all the schooling I got through.

OH SNAP! look at me being all teacherly n shit! *poses*