Today was a new day, one I have been anticipating anxiously since I put my project together. Yesterday I spent more time with the copy machine then actual patients and students although today was definitely a new day. I began the day once again cleaning the supplies, and then I got briefed on projects I will attempt to finish during the duration of my project. The first day always seems daunghting although today seemed more familiar. After cleaning the supplies I got to dive into more of the teaching element of my senior project.
During my time so far at Dornbecher OMSI and Master Gardeners have come to entertain the children with a variety of actitivities. This morning the Master Gardeners were in the classroom teaching the children about insects. One student has difficult conversing, and has a low confidence level that is hard to break through and expose their true interests. The content portion of the insect unit didn't seem interest the student although the art unit caught their eye. The day before the student made a shirt by decorating it themselves, and then entered the classroom wearing it today. The community feel that becomes a part of the patients lives at Dornbecher seems to help the students cope with the isolating environment.
After realizing the students interest in art the teachers let me take on the task of trying to engage the student. The key to this seemed to be to not make it obvious that the student wasn't talking, to just request activities and engage with the student based upon their facial expressions. The morning began as we made a bag and decorated it with peace signs out of fabric paint, and the patient had peace signs all over their gown, and left the classroom all matching and setfor the runway.
After making the bag some school work had to be completed, although this step didn't go by as smoothly. The student only wanted to draw and make more T - shirts although it was time for math and reading. I found a math worksheet where they could color as well complete the assignment, but then it was time for reading. Ideally having the student read was the goal, although I had to find another way to get the student to engage in the language arts portion of the session. In order to do this I read a story and they had to draw different aspects about the book that caught their attention. This activity seemed to stimulate the students. I think it is different teaching in a normal school versus the hospital school although the most important thing I learned today is that displaying the flaws by saying "you should answer me" when a child isn't inclined to speak, doesn't help the relationship between the teacher and the student, but just trying to engage the student in an area they interest and incorporating other disciplines is helpful. In addition, these children are already suffering from life altering conditions,, and increasing the freedom the patients experience in the hospital is vital to the emotional well being of the children.
After working for an hour the student began to speak back to me and I got to learn all about the patient's life and interests that seemed inaccessible and hour earlier. I hope I get to work with the same student more to continue fostering a relationship and helping them through their time at Dornbecher.
Besides working with students today I got assigned a new project. I will be designed academic units in language arts, geography and science for the students in the schools at Dornbecher in the hematology and oncology sections of the hospital. This project will take a long time I imagine, and I will update my blog with my progress on that project when it seems appropriate.
More interesting facts I learned about the school today is that there are many safety precautions that are non - existant in more schools. In the classroom there is a button to call the nurses is an IV pole begins to beep or other problems appear. Also if a student slumps down in their chair I can't touch them and pull them back up, I have to call the nurse, so that nothing medically occurs that isn't supposed to. Another point that I feel is interesting is that if a student enters the classroom with an eating disorder I can't discuss exercise or food with the patient and nothing with a nutrition label can be in the classroom so that the student doesn't attempt to calcuate calories. Also I can never feed or give water to any of the students in the classrooms due to medical pre-cautions.
The Hospital School Program is very similar although also extremely different than normal classrooms. The majority of the teaching is also individualized because the teachers go around to rooms, especially if a patient is in isolation, to read to them and help them with their assignments. For example today I copied pages from a book for one of the teachers to bring into a room with a student who is in isolation because anything that goes into the room has to remain in the room. I look forward to learning more, and having more one on one interactions with students!