Do you feel like your school is working on the same things year after year with very little discernable progress or improvement? Is the question, "What's the process for that?" often answered with shrugs or "I think Mrs. Smith does a good job with that... why don't you go and ask her?" Do new teachers have to learn most of the expected practices in your school through teachers' room talk? If so, your school is not unusual.
Has this every happened to you? It’s conference time and you are meeting with Mr. and Mrs. Concerned. You are prepared to review the current report card and discuss Johnny’s many classroom successes and what he needs to work on. The conversation begins to take a turn where the parents want to discuss other issues that Johnny is having, mainly at home: squabbles with siblings, losing his toys, etc.
As a practicing occupational therapist of 30 years, I have seen the number of referrals for O.T. in the public schools increase, especially in the area of written expression. Thirty years ago only the most severely handicapped children were serviced by O.T. Now O.T. services are provided to a much wider developmental range, and especially to children struggling with written expression. What has changed?
Paul wanted nothing more than to have a friend. He tried to talk to the kids who shared his table in his third grade class, but he rarely “got” their jokes, and he pretended to laugh when they all started giggling together. No matter how hard he tried to fit in, they never invited him to play at recess. He became frustrated and angry, which he expressed freely at home through tantrums, crying spells, and refusals to do his homework.
"There can be no failure for a man who has not lost his courage, his character, his self-respect, or his self-confidence" Orison Swett Marden
The recent and continuing emphasis on raising academic test scores is not bad in itself, but it may ultimately turn out to be detrimental if it squelches or pushes aside the role that schools can and should play in helping to make the world a better place - now and in the future.