I love it when teachers give explanations for their rules.
It sounds silly, doesn’t it? Such a basic thing.
And yet, a lot of people lay down the law without considering the why factor. They just say “show your work.” Or “name, date, and subject in the right hand corner.”
These examples spring to mind because, of course, that’s what current in middle school right now.
I just got an email from the autism coordinator at my son’s school. Somewhat amazed at finding out such a person existed – I met her in the spring – my hopes are high that she’ll be able to help out the teachers and people working with my son.
They’ll need patience. And a little understanding. Okay, a lot of understanding.
In any case, she wrote an email stating a few rules that our son needs to be aware of and follow. I think I love her already.
First, being kept in the loop pleases me no end. I love information, because without it I know nothing and am not able to help in any way. Lack of information is very bad and can lead to disaster that could otherwise have been avoided.
Secondly, she spelled out the why‘s behind the rules.
Any teacher – or guidance counselor, coordinator, assistant principal, whomever – willing to do this has my undying gratitude. Well, at least until the next year.
A logical, black-and-white mind – like an Asperger’s mind – needs reasons. Just being told to do something won’t cut it. Blind obedience will not happen.
This makes sense to me.
As an adult, do we blindly follow when other people say things? As for me, I’m sure I’d get knocked in the head when someone yelled, “duck!” I’d want to know why first – is he trying to fool me? I don’t see anything… Ouch! – and wouldn’t just go along with someone blithely telling me to perform some strange action.
Maybe I’m just contrary.
But I think most adults like to reason things out. I will agree to do X because it makes sense. No, I’m not going to do X because then I will look like a fool. No, I’m not going to do X because it’s long, tedious, and there’s a better way of doing it.
That last one is what gets our family. I know that’s what my son is thinking every time he’s told to do something like “show his work” or fill out an excessively long heading (to his mind).
But being filled in on the logic behind the action can make all the difference.
Knowing that ok, in middle school each teacher can have 125 students (and thus not recognize everyone’s handwriting) and that pages need to be arranged in order of date for the graded organizational folder… well, all of a sudden taking the time to fill out that “excessively long” heading starts to make sense.
There are those who believe – wow, this feels like Battlestar Galactica – that children should not be given reasons, only told to do something and hop to it.
What a beautiful idea.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work with us. I can almost see my skeptical little mule’s mind freezing in stubbornness, and hear the bray about to issue forth from that mouth.
No, I’m not talking about myself. I’m talking about my son. Although some might argue with that…
Just taking a moment to give the reason – not in a wheedling, please do this because…, but in a firm, or plain oh-just-so-you-know, factual voice – can make all the difference.
The difference, in fact, from dealing with a mule who’s already made his decision and isn’t brooking any nonsense, or working pleasantly with someone who understands where you’re coming from and is fully cooperating because it just all makes sense.
After all, it would be silly to leave off my name. How is that teacher supposed to recognize my handwriting when she has so many kids in her classes? Duh.
So I’m excited about this year. Already, our coordinator grasps this concept – as well she should, but I like to give credit where it is due – and I’m willing to bet will be able to communicate this idea effectively to his teachers.