By KODEY TONEY
Part of my daily job is teaching kids about peer pressure and how you can be pressured into doing things that everybody else is doing. Most people think of the negative peer pressure, but there’s a positive peer pressure as well. That’s one that a lot of people forget, but if we see other people to do things sometimes we are pressured into doing those things as well. Those can have a lasting effect on people’s lives.
I was reminded of this as I was reading an article this morning by Mayim Bialik who played Blossom in the early 90s, and is now Amy Farrah Fowler on the Big Bang Theory. She talked about her father and how he was a high school teacher when she was growing up. He taught drama, and she said that he often would do plays and theater productions. When he did he would invite kids from the special education classrooms to come in to participate. She said she witnessed this and knew those kids had the time of their lives doing this. She also witnessed the patience and passion that her father had for helping people with special needs.
As she attended college she found herself doing her thesis for her doctorate. She decided to use the topic of people with special needs and their Obsessive Compulsive Disorder tendencies as her theme. She knew that she wanted to work with people who had special-needs because of what she had witnessed with her dad. She had come to understand how special these kids really are, and that doesn’t mean their diagnosis.
I think there are several lesson from this. One of the most important lessons is that we can teach by example. This is where I want to plead to my teachers and educators. The kids that you are teaching see what you’re doing. They can see if you really care about the students. They can see if you don’t. They see when you help others and especially see how you cope with those with special needs in your classroom. If you treat them with respect and show them love, compassion, tolerance, acceptance, and patience those watching you are going to mimic your actions; first immediately and then throughout the rest of their lives.
I think many teachers forget that they’re not just teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic. They are also showing students how to be good people. They are teaching life lessons.
The second thing that they’re learning is that people with special needs can do a lot of things most people think they can’t. They just need a little guidance, a little motivation, a little nurturing, a little acceptance, and most importantly encouragement to know they can. Sometimes you are the only ones in their lives that will give them this self-confidence.
When you have a child with special needs you need to push them. Often times they learn to adapt to being cared for as opposed to finding their independence. We need to help them to help themselves as much as possible. Don’t forget that we are preparing them for life.