ARTICLES

Author: Andy Jacks

Every child has gifts and values. Some of those gifts take longer to figure out than others. Great teachers make enormous efforts to connect with every child and look at them as a whole child with relative strengths and weaknesses, not just all good or all bad. In a principal meeting, my awesome boss Todd Erickson showed us this amazing video by Clint Pulver and we had a great conversation about the deeper implications. What do schools look like when they value the child as a whole? How can we lift up every child, even the ones that challenge us and are difficult to motivate? As this video shows, Mr. Jensen gave this little boy hope and a path of success. Instead of getting annoyed, he was patient and gave him direction. He didn’t get stuck on the negative behaviors and was able to see the value the value and abilities instead. Mr. Jensen looked at the potential instead of the problem. Can you be Mr. Jensen to a …

See Students as Solutions Instead of Problems Read More »

I posted an graphic of quiet breathing strategies that you can use in the classroom and in the post I mentioned that we are adding calming corner kits in every room. Well, that came back to me with a million questions on what we included in our kits! So, here you go, list below and image as well. Most of what we purchased was on Amazon. Most was relatively cheap. The Hoberman Spheres, or breathing balls, were probably the more expensive of the items, but they are very popular with students and teachers. Make sure you buy bins large enough to hold your items! Our school calming corner starter sensory kit included a bin and lid, a packet of breathing and calming strategies we created, a Hoberman Sphere, squishies, a 5 minute sand timer, a sensory timer, a glitter pouch, a stringy ball, a puffer ball, a DIY sand stress balls, a DIY sensory bottles, and a pinwheel. We made the DIY items together in a staff meeting. Other …

Ideas for Classroom Sensory Kits Read More »

Here is a graphic I made with nine strategies that you can use with your students today. Make sure to model, be serious about it, teach, and practice these strategies if you want them to be effective. The more you use them and show that it is ok to take these kinds of breaks, the more our students will as well. Which one is your favorite?? I think I like the Tumble Dryer one the best. It makes a fun sound effect!

Students are stressed. Teachers are stressed. And it’s understandable and should be expected. If you do this job right, it takes a lot out of you and drains you emotionally and physically. There is so much that we cannot control around us, even our own emotions are really hard to keep in check. Especially when our students push our buttons over and over and over…and over… But what we can control is our attitude and actions. Consider deep breathing strategies as way to reset both for your students and for yourself. Many of our students arrive to school every day with a lot of baggage and anxieties due to home lives or just their own personality. The school day itself is fast-paced and busy, often adding to the stress that our students carry with them. Deep breathing strategies can help with slowing everything down and focusing on the moment which in turns affects our overall well-being and stress. HEART RATEResearch from the Mayo Clinic describes the benefits of deep …

Behavior Tip: 6 Breathing Strategies to Relax Students Read More »

Many of our students have sensory issues and we need to provide them with extra tools to address these needs throughout the day. This post and video helps explain some of the ‘why’ behind these toys and a reflection in video to the different toys/tools we have in our school. Thank you Ashland Autism Teacher Laura Ryba for starring in this post’s video! (Always go to the experts in your school for these types of issues!) WHY SENSORY TOYS AND TOOLS: Before we get into the different types of toys and what to buy, we should always first think of our goals with these tools. What does your student need to access the curriculum, be successful in the environment, or reduce anxiety? Is there a glaring need that they are showing to have that we need to address? Focus first on goals and the root cause to then determine the tool, otherwise we are just randomly giving kids things that may actually have a negative impact on their education. …

Behavior Tip: Sensory Toys & Tools Read More »

There are times where some of our most interesting and engaging lessons are just too much for some of our students. The lights, sounds, and excitement can cause a lot of anxiety that ruins the amazing experience and all the hard work put in by the teachers. Students with sensory processing issues have difficulties with some types of sensory input and in many cases build a lot of internal anxiety when things are unpredictable. As educators, we should not have activities where we know some students will not perform well. But there is good news. We can still have intense and interesting lessons, but it does take a little forward-thinking and thoughtfulness for our students. I was inspired by a random conversation. The conversation was with our PE teachers about how they are providing proactive options for students for their holiday decorated and “intense” lesson for PE that week. What a great idea and more importantly how great it was that they cared about their students enough to plan …

Behavior Tip: Sensory-friendly supports and alternatives for intense lessons Read More »

A little moment today with my son helped me rethink our work with teachers and students. Random Saturday morning. I really should be thinking about anything else after a long week. Does anyone else have these random leadership thoughts that come out of the middle of nowhere? We stopped to get gas and he asked to get out and help pump the gas. This was a little thing, and really wasn’t that big of a deal to me, but for him this was such a cool experience. He felt empowered and special. It took longer of course to pump the gas, explain to him what to do, and make sure he was safe, but in the long run those seconds that I lost were really precious experiences that he gained. Pumping the gas also gave us a chance to talk about decimals, multiplication, and money. The thought that consumed my day was that as leaders we need to rethink all of these little moments and how much we can …

Slow down & give leadertunities to others Read More »

The first email was sent on a local network in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1971 by Ray Tomlinson. He sent this to a computer sitting right next to his computer and the message was “something like QWERTYUIOP” in the email. Tomlinson was also the one who began using the @ sign in emails. 1 Historical Context Almost 50 years later and know emails have taken over our lives. EMAIL was developed by a 14 year old in the early 80s. The first attachment was added in 1992. Hotmail and Yahoo Mail emerged in the late 90s. “You’ve Got Mail” with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks sealed the deal in 1998. The early 2000s brought Gmail, smartphones, and then we became fully dependent. 2 The average office worker between 2014 and 2018 sent about 40 emails and received about 90 emails a day. 3 Almost 50 years later and emails have now taken over our lives. If you are in your twenties, or even early thirties, you may not even know what …

The Call to Reduce the Use of Email Read More »

For many families like mine, even simple things can be very stressful. When our son was little, the barber shop and a tight haircut, one of my favorite things, was way too much and very overwhelming for him. I had to cut his hair at home for years myself. Now it’s better, but I know many other kids go through the same thing. I’m so excited about this new program at Ashland where we can modify this experience and teach students how to enjoy this instead, and even better, have it done in school. Thanks to a partnership with Bubbles Salon, we are able to provide a sensory friendly experience in school to have students get their haircuts and look amazing!

Our annual tradition of mailing postcards home for information and to notify parents of students’ teachers saw an innovative twist the last couple of years by adding augmented reality.