This past month, several REV students completed eighth grade and their first completely inclusive school experience. These students began participating in all general education classes with their same-age peers in sixth grade. Now, as they head to high school, a few have been reflecting back on the experience. Last week, we brought you Ethan's look back. Stay tuned over the next few weeks to hear more of their thoughts.
Lessons I Learned in Middle School
Wearing shoes you can run in will pay off big time.
On the first day of sixth grade, totally took off out the classroom door really fast, two whole hours into the day. School was overwhelming. Teacher took off after me in good heels, and poor lady never wore heels again. The next few years I managed to muster one or two more sprints, but those running shoes stayed mostly in PE.
Lots of kind overestimating of equality.
So many teachers wanted so badly to treat everyone the same that they didn't see that we needed different things. The difference between equal and fair snagged them for many classes. Tiny health issues and autism aren't the same thing. Why treat them the same way? In sixth grade I struggled to tell teachers how they could help me, but by seventh grade's end I learned how to self-advocate.
I lost my facilitator at the end of sixth grade and the same summer my dad passed away. The world turned very, very dark for a while. I didn't want to get out of bed. Bad thoughts loomed here in what seemed to be the final plea to end the pain. My teacher took steps to get me to therapy that saved my life. She made sure she letterboarded with me, took me to good grief group, and found a new facilitator. Slowly life got sunnier. Facing unusual change sucks, but I am stronger now. Now I know that change sucks, but I can survive!
Tiny, wacky assignments aren't worth losing my sweet weekends.
The number of assignments I've had in middle school that want me to homework for the sake of homeworking is far too great to count. Do you know how long it takes a letterboarder to spell out everything that regular fools say out loud? This little blog post is taking me hours to write. Imagine the mind-numbing folly that is homework that regurgitates what we did in class. At first I tried to keep it all complete, but when I realized I could forget a homework or three and still get an A, I reclaimed my weekends that I missed so very much. That's why having basic understanding of economics and opportunity cost is key. See? I'm still internalizing what we learn in class!
School can be both fun and edifying.
Oftentimes teachers get so wrapped up in teaching lessons for subjects that they forget we are kids still in need of fun. They don't always see outside their little one-period-long box to see the whole of our busy day. In my opinion, the best teachers have good feelings when they find time to hahahaha laugh.
So listen up, high school teachers - the awesomeness that can happen next year is in your hands!
Harry Burdick is a soon-to-be freshman who uses alternative communication to tell the world that all kids should be given an education.