Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Included: Rewards at School

At the beginning of the school year, before the craptacular spectacular transition issues, we'd discussed with Joy's teacher his system for rewarding good behavior. Each child has a star-chart, and during the course of the day he publicly awards stars when he "catches" a child behaving well. The charts live in the children's lockers, and when they fill a chart, they get to go "shopping" at the special reward-shelves for a book to take home.

We'd originally contributed some board books (more expensive than the usual paperback rewards) for Joy to take part in the system. But then with Joy not in the classroom much at all, and having the reward so far removed from the good behavior, on top of the rough way she treats books... she ended up getting more immediate small rewards instead, and just not participating in the classroom's system for the first weeks.

Until I was volunteering in the classroom one Monday. One dear little girl went out of her way to tell me that Joy was doing well (bless her heart!) But a young fellow at the same table wanted to make sure that the record was set straight -- or maybe he just liked "telling"? Anyway, he swiftly pointed out that maybe it wasn't so great after all, because Joy never got to go book-shopping.

So I took this perspective to Joy's team -- that, even if the reward system is not perfectly set up to be meaningful to Joy, the other kids are noticing and her participation (or lack thereof) has meaning to her classmates. They immediately agreed to make a change. Now Joy gets stars like the other kids, no matter what level of meaning they may or may not have for her. And if she's not in the room much that day, her aides make a point of coming to the teacher and announcing audibly that Joy should get stars for thus-and-such she's done OUT of the room.

The first full star-chart that came home with a board book brought tears to my eyes. Her teacher had signed it with the message, "I'm so proud of you!"


K- floortime lite mama said...

Brought tears to my eyes too

Professor Mother said...

We're so proud of her, too! And her mama, for advocating and making this happen!

JoyDad said...

I don't know if I would have thought of inclusion as also trying to foster inclusion of joy by her peers. But once JoyMama pointed it out to me, it made total sense.

These are the peers that Joy will be with at least through middle school. It's important for Joy to feel included, but is equally important during these formative years that Joy's peers see her as that - one of their peers. And I'm really pleased with the way the school staff picked up on it.

She's a sharp one, that JoyMama... I think I'll keep her.

And submitted without comment:
Word verification = kablasm!

Bethany said...

Way to go Joy for earning those stars and for being a part of the class reward system! Also, way to go to your peers for noticing your participation - they hold you to the same standards as everyone else! And congrats to JoyMama for making this happen, and for fostering true inclusion!

Lynn said...

Yay Joy! And yay JoyMama! Way to go for being on top of it...there's nothing like being right in the classroom to pick up on those things.

My word ID is "wilywed"
I think that one was meant for JoyDad.

Anonymous said...

Word verification: inett

Inett it so? - this is wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Ooh! Of course! Sometimes hard to see the forest for the trees - thanks for pointing this out and in such a sweet story. Way to go Joy!!

JoyMama said...

I think I might keep JoyDad around too. He's OK. And after all, we've put up with each other for over 17 years now! (Only 50 to go to tie the long-lived marriage of my mom's parents...)

Bethany - very astute comment about peers and holding Joy to standards. I hadn't thought about it in that way, but YES!

Lynn - making school volunteering happen this year was a high priority. It had dropped out last year (poor Rose!) but this year the need was intense.

And... what is it with the word verifications on this post?!?

Casdok said...

My word verification is points.
Which you made a very good one :)

Anonymous said...

Not liking telling but JoyDad started it.

In order to tell, I have to repeat the not-word: drifle, in the box.

Trish said...

How wonderful! I have heard it said that inclusion is just as much for the typical children as it is for the child with a disability. This shows that this boy is getting it! And what a great team for responding so quickly.

Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg said...

I just love this story. It's so wonderful when people step up and make the right things happen. Beautiful!