Mountain Ridge Junior High School: Life Skills

I didn’t know when I scheduled, but this class is also special-ed. I can’t tell you about the kids, but I can tell you about the situation and lesson. I scheduled the class on Saturday night. I would be subbing for the main teacher, where there should be a para-educator. In this case, the school forgot until this morning that there would be no para-educator. The para-educator quit on Friday. I didn’t know any of this until eight when I showed.

The teacher had emailed the lesson plan to the para by mistake, so there was no lesson plan for fifteen minutes after the first bell and no para with a class of seven middle-schoolers all on the autistic-spectrum and fourteen peer-tutors. Lucky for me, the speech-teacher was there and as well as a parent of a student working on a toilet training IEP. Both pitched in to help until the the lesson plan showed up. Thirty minutes later, a sub for the para showed up. Thirty minutes after that, two part-time aids showed up (the parent and speech-teacher then left). There we so many non-teaching adults, the class practically ran itself.

The primary focus of the day was something called the color circle. It looks like an archery target of the ROY G BIV rainbow with violet on the inside and red on the outside. Each color indicates a level of personal space. Violet and indigo represent personal space and personal rights. Blue represents the space family has. This means the amount of contact a family can have through touch, hugs, kisses etc.. Green, the color we focused on is for the very best friends, people who we share interests with and who we shake hands with, high-five, knuckle and elbow. The entire day was about friends. It was great because many of the peer-tutors have been friends with the special-ed kids since pre-school and have very special, long term relationships. We talked about proper contact and improper contact even with super-close friends.

The next layers were for people we don’t touch. Yellow is for teachers, assistants, substitutes like me, doctors, home-staff and other school friends. Orange is for people we know at school like the secretaries or the grocer or cashier at McDonalds. Red is for strangers.

I think CUE (Central Utah Enterprises–a transition center for cognitively-disabled adults I work at quite often) could use this and it is obvious that the younger clients/trainees at CUE already do. The older clients/trainees have no concept of personal space and love to hug just about anyone. The younger clients/trainees are just as friendly, but maintain a very safe and prudent distance.

The interesting thing as this applies to me, is that I don’t let anyone past the yellow layer. I am a very much don’t touch person, but when my kids were little, they didn’t have any concept of space. I hope these lessons are taught at very young ages and are repeated often. With the creepiness of society now, this is important stuff.


9 thoughts on “Mountain Ridge Junior High School: Life Skills

  1. I love days like that when you go to work prepared to teach and advise but end up learning something for yourself in the process.

  2. I did the circle program with a group of students who are visually impaired. The theory sounds great, but convincing these kids that is not right to get too close to most people (except in the family or friend circles,) negates their need to have a sighted guide to lead them around. Too close, they are told…

    • Oooo . . . amazing point. In the classes I’ve subbed with visually impaired students, there is always a certain amount of physical contact between the students. As a sub, I am not allowed to touch students, even students that need it like visually impaired students so I’ve asked students to act as guides.

      Thank you for bringing this up. What a great point!!! Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Thank you so much for visiting my blog! I came by to return the favor.
    Loved this story. My mom used to work with people across the spectrum and as a child I got to spend time with many of them, so it was cool to see this side of things.
    I also love your political cartoons 🙂

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