The Imperfect Classroom  

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Michelle suggested the other day that I should post about recipes that I do in my classroom. I believe I've mentioned before that I am a severe special education teacher. Most of the students I've worked with in my short teaching career are in wheelchairs, are medically fragile, eat via feeding tube, are nonverbal, have seizures, and have so many things that children should not have to deal with. My goal as their teacher has always been to try and provide them with as many "typical" childhood experiences as possible. I usually say that I am a "if there's a will there's a way" kind of person. I've taken my kids on a hay ride - pushing wheelchairs up and down boards to get them on and off of the wagon. I've enlisted a physical therapist to help carry a couple of my students through the school's playscape and up to the top so we could go down the slide together. I've climbed into a bouncy house moon jumper thing and held kids so they could experience it too. I like to try and figure out how to help the kids have every experience they can have.

I try to do a weekly cooking group with them. At first, I wasn't sure about doing a cooking group with kids who can't eat - I was afraid it was cruel. Another teacher once told me though that food is still a part of their lives - their families eat. People eat. It is a fact of life. Meanwhile, they are being exposed to smells and textures, a bit of math, and the enjoyment of having fun as a class, and of taking something home for their family (if we don't eat it in class first. :) ) For example, one of my favorite Thanksgiving activities is for each student to make a pumpkin pie that they can take home to contribute to their family's dinner.

To be able to cook at school, I do a lot of "no bake" things, or things that I can make in a toaster oven. Michelle said she thought there might be other people who would like to read about recipes that they could do with their special needs (or "typical" ) children. I am wondering if anyone would be interested?

This is only my third year teaching, and my perfectionism rears it's ugly head here as with every part of my life. I am quite the collector - I collect project ideas and recipes, but then I never do any of them. I am trying to push myself to do things more and more, both in my personal life, and in the classroom. I had at one point toyed with starting another blog, "The Imperfect Classroom," in which I posted about all the activities I'd finally done after all the time I'd been "meaning to do it." But of course then I didn't know if I could keep up with two blogs. I didn't know if I should just post about that stuff here. Then, as usual with my perfectionism, I couldn't figure out what the "best" idea was, and so nothing happens. Maybe I'll go with Michelle's idea and just start posting some of our classroom recipes and general shnanigans here and see how it goes.

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