All of us crazy dog ladies call our dogs our 'babies,' regardless of their size or age. This week,take a picture of you and your baby. Send it in to our contest at email@example.com. We will post pics as they come in. Most creative will win a free copy of your choice of either Forever Friends or Dexter Saves the Day! Contest ends Thursday, May 16. Ready, smile, click!
Carlton (and I) have dutifully been going back to Doggie Training. I have to say that I have become defensive there-sad that we are put in "jail",as I called it, as we wait for the class to start. I realize that the teacher really was just trying to set up a safer/positive environment for us to enter. That said, Carlton's behaviors did settle down each week. The teacher,however, kept making side comments about him. That did nothing for my confidence.
I was the star student-even if my dog did not know all the right things to do, I learned the commands and could answer all the steps to giving commands. Carlton is learning the behaviors associated with the commands at home very well. I am very proud.
This last week was a huge improvement. Yes, I went one minute after the class started and I brought high level treats. I do think those issues helped. The biggest thing,however, I think was the teacher. We had a sub-someone I love from the shelter. She was warm, welcoming, and inviting. Carlton lay down and chilled out while directions were given (ok, in between the times he tried to mark the area we were sitting on..). He was such a calmer puppy.
This blog really is not about us or how Carlton is progressing in his lessons.. It is about how we treat each other. We don't always realize how one word or phrase can set a tone. We don't realize that sarcasm and joking can be taken the wrong way. We don't realize that our discomfort can be from many factors. The sub teacher's demeanor and my dog's subsequent demeanor opened my eyes to how I need to be as a wife, mom, teacher and person. We really need to be aware of how we treat people-the smallest thing to us might be a huge issue to someone else.
I knew that Dexter,the dog who I wrote my book series after, was special. I knew he was a perfect , well mannered old man. I never realized how lucky we had it when we adopted him at 9 until we adopted my 5 year old WILD STALLION Carlton! Carlton sure is alot of fun to play with...but man, he barks..and barks..and chases my cats..and barks and barks.. He is a miniature poodle-super cute,soft and smart. The interesting part is he is also part terrier-perhaps Jack Russell-all I know is that part is ALL SPAZ. The Humane Society said, he was good with cats and there was no terrier in him..HA!
We have had our little love bug since August.. he is a doll and fun. He does know "sit" and "come"...and even chooses to listen to those commands sometimes. We have had a lot of extra commotion and stress in our home this year,so I think he is picking up on it. We also have another teen in our home,which means more driving here and there, more people talking, less mommy attention. His behaviors have increased to very loud and barky.
I committed to a 6 week training program-for him and me;) The first week was an utter disaster. He was scared and stressed,so he barked for an hour. Yes, an hour. We were asked to "kindly take a walk in the hall to calm him down" at one point. I was mortified. I was sad. Yes, I will admit..I cried. I am a mom of two(now three)teens, a teacher for 20 years.. but I can't control a dog???
After I left, I calmed down. I realized a few things-the program was not set up well(the instructors even admitted that). We were placed next to a fearful boxer. The smells were too much, none of my treats were interesting enough,and it was just chaotic. I remembered what my kids were like as babies when they had stranger anxiety. I didn't really blame Carlton-he was not aggressive or mean. He was scared. I did not blame myself-I have not had enough training or encouragement to know what to do to calm him down.
Armed with new treats and new tips, I spent the last week training him and "catching" him being good. He has been great. He still is distracted and not easily redirected. When I have his attention, he follows all my verbal and hand commands like a pro. We went back to class on Wed and I had my head held up. When the lady told me to sit in a waiting area with my dog when we arrived, I did say to him,"Oh great, we are going to doggy jail." However, then I shook that off and realized maybe it was for the best.
We rearranged the room, gave him a smaller area with less visual access to anyone and I chose to work alot alone. I was the rock star human student. No one answered her questions but me:) I learned my stuff, despite his barking last week, and I was going to show her that;) Carlton proved to be a rock star,too. I even taught him two new commands this week and he only barked 25-35% of the hour. HUGE improvements! He did not eat my fancy new treats,but he ate cheese that I brought.
Each week is a new week closer to a calmer dog. I am a much calmer dog owner and excited to see what the next four weeks bring for Carlton and me! Stay tuned!
Want to open up a discussion about hearing loss related learning issues vs a Learning Disability related learning issues. I have had students over the years who present like they are learning disabled,but the confusion or difficulties they have had clearly are due to their hearing loss. They have issues with vocabulary gaps, being very concrete, and needing things broken down into smaller parts/steps. I have also had students whose learning needs are clearly NOT due to their hearing loss. The issues are more focused on visual perceptual needs, visual issues, organization and just misunderstanding.
While some of the techniques I use on my kiddos with hearing loss might be effective for the kids who are learning disabled, I feel it is important for the children to be tested for learning disabilities,as well. I think labeling for labeling sake is silly. Labeling a student so they get the appropriate modifications and accommodations is important.
What are your thoughts-keep them with just a hearing loss label or check for further special needs?
Please comment below! Thanks for joining in the conversation.
clip art courtesy of : http://www.illustrationsof.com/royalty-free-confused-clipart-illustration-215206.jpg
What are you grateful for?Are you grateful for a family vacation?Are you grateful for a big screen TV?Are you grateful for friendship?Are you grateful for healthy children?I don't believe any is better or worse than the other. I think in many situations, we can be grateful for different things. If someone is grateful for a big screen TV, I don't think that makes them a bad person just as if someone is grateful for their health it makes them an incredible person.
What I think is that we need to BE grateful. Take time EVERY DAY to be grateful. When our days are rough, it is the time to be more grateful! If you can find 3-5 things each day to be grateful for, you will find reason to smile, get up,laugh and soldier on. Many of our days may be filled with stress,grief, pain or heartache..but there is still SO much good in the world. So if you find your blessings in a big screen TV or in a flower that bloomed, so be it. Just BE GRATEFUL!
I am incredibly grateful for all of you who have supported my journey writing these books and bringing them to life. I am grateful for Collin Richter,the incredible illustrator who brought my stories to picture. I am grateful for all the places I have been able to share the stories. I am most grateful for the little smiles I see as I read the books aloud and see the children's eyes widen in awe or nod in agreement. They all get it-we are ALL special, in our own ways!
Bobcats and Barbie dolls-what do they have in common?Sure, they both start with "b". Some might say they are both scary or predators;) NO, really, how are they related? They might be common place in your home or classroom,but for some, they are very abstract words. Today in school, both of these words came up during math. Yes, math. We were doing some word problems and the teacher made very creative word problems including a certain amount of bobcats in one story and a certain amount of Barbie Dolls in another story.
The class had a number of deaf and hard of hearing children in it-many of those kids did not know what a Bobcat or a Barbie Doll was. These kids were 9 years old and had no clue. Why is that? Sure, you might say, your own 9 year old son did not have a Barbie doll..that is different. Your 9 year old boy would have heard his female friends at school talking about them or might have seen an advertisement and heard the name "Barbie" on the TV. Kids with hearing loss often don't overhear that information. We hearing parents would not think to mention the name of a Barbie in a structured setting-our hearing kids learned about them through life's experiences,not through direct instruction. Bobcats are cool and strong animals-if you have taken your children to the zoo,you have probably seen them before. Our deaf and hard of hearing students might have seen them,too,but never knew they were different from a leopard or a cheetah. I notice now that Bobcats have pointed ears and spots,. I also think they have a black line near their eyes that looks like eyeliner. However, deaf/hh children might not have heard their parents mention the name or the difference in casual chit chat at the zoo mixed in with all the other background noise at the zoo.
My job as a Teacher of Deaf and Hard of Hearing children is to point out these gaps and fill them in. Can we know what our students don't know by looking at them or giving them standardized tests?Sadly, no. We can't know what background information they are missing until it shows up somewhere. Our students often have super surface language-they can go on and on about every day stuff,events they did with families if the families spent time talking about the vacation or activity. However, when we dig deeper,we often see these gaps. I sat through a lesson in science with these kids and the teacher was talking about consumer and producer-after the lesson we were doing a hands on project. My students had these concepts backwards. I am not saying that some hearing kids did not get confused as well. However, I am saying that hearing kids only need to get a concept in general a few times and then it is understood and stored in their brains. Kids with hearing loss need many repetitions of the same concept in order for it to make sense and stick.
So, for those of you who often wonder what I am doing in the regular ed class, now you know one small part of my job. I am there finding and filling in gaps. I might spend 20 minutes just observing-seeing where the students are participating and where they are missing the boat. I then move into catch up mode and explain,reexplain and give examples and reword things. Next time you think I don't do anything in the mainstream, just remember Bobcats and Barbies:)
"Love bravely, live bravely, be courageous, there's really nothing to lose. There's no wrong you can't make right again, so be kinder to yourself, you know, have fun, take chances. There's no bounds."- Jewel
I have some worry as I start a new school year, a new job, a new job description,face new children with new challenges I have not faced before or for at least 20 years. I have many choices-I can run, I can hide, or I can face the challenges and embrace them. Children on paper are only statistics, numbers,data. It is my job to turn these numbers and data points into living, breathing children's successes and milestones. I need to come out of my comfort zone and into theirs.
The staff at my new school is past amazing. They are so forward in their thinking, so full of energy and so welcoming. That is more than half the battle. The Deaf/HH team I am with is very much a team mindset, helping, sharing and giving. I hope to learn tons from them,and also to teach them from my past experiences. I can use what they know worked with these students before and also add my ideas.
What dawned on me today was a memory of a job far more nervewracking than this. I was hired in Nebraska 20 years ago for a 4th grade self contained deaf/hh class. I knew they would be functioning a little lower,because they were not mainstreamed. However,r I was shocked to see them roll in to my room in wheelchairs or have clear (unlabeled)autistic behaviors. After the first day of crying at home, I went back,created amazing, fun and silly lessons. I taught them to cook, sing and dance. It was one of the most fabulous years of my career.
I have to go at it this year the same way. There are not alot of details of "how to's". Instead of flipping out, I need to create my own "how to's" and be thankful. I am ready to try, make mistakes, fix them, and have fun. Each day there will be ups and downs,but I know that in the end, passion to teach deaf/hh children is inside of me, my love of creativity, music, art and all things reading is there, and that I will embrace these children and do what I need to do to give them the year they deserve.
If you have any creative preschool level arts/crafts/music ideas, please send them my way. Always looking for new ideas-the more hands on/interactive,the better!
Happy New School Year to you and yours!
There are no words to express how much Dexter means to our family,how much we will miss him , or how much he means to others. Enjoy some photos so you may always remember our baby in your heart!
Happy Friday! Have you taken time to fill out a Contact Form and enter for a FREE copy of Dexter Saves The Day?See the blog below for details.. entries are pouring in, you don't want to miss out. There is still time and your answer might be the closest to the right answer....
We are so thankful for the welcoming we have had over these last few months with the roll out of Forever Friends. Our intent is to educate about hearing loss,dogs, adoption, compassion and have some fun at the same time! Here are the photos from our events. Please watch the captioned YouTube video below.Go to our testimonial pages to see what people have to say about the books.
Dexter Saves The Day is rolling out any day-you can order it online here. You can also set up a book signing in your area-fill out a contact form and I will get back to you! Happy weekend!
We have heard this term more and more lately-"My dog is a therapy dog." " My dog is a hearing dog." " My dog is a dog for people with Autism." Many more foundations are popping up to train and place dogs in homes of people in need. Trust me, I think that is FANTASTIC! To have a dog be with you when you have special needs is a gift. To have a dog calm your autistic worries or help you know when someone is at the door,is great... But is that all it means to be a "therapy dog"?
I challenge you and will say,"No." These "therapy dogs" existed way before training, foundations and placement. The word "dog" in the dictionary should say" therapeutic and calming animal" in its definition. I can't tell you how many times I have come home from a long, awful, hard day and cuddled Dexter and instantly felt at peace. When our 12 year old friend was dying of cancer, Dexter came in handy for my daughter and me when we were unbelievably sad.. we could cry into his fur for as long as we needed. He just was there. He never walked away-like our cats do-or asked 1 million questions. He never gives answers or tries to "fix" our problems. He just lets us cuddle/rest/be/heal.
I know that when I bring Dexter to my mom's assisted living building, all the residents get instantly happier. Their crabby or sad or unexcited faces turn suddenly to smiles. They ask questions of each other,share memories and come out of their shells. It is amazing to see how wonderful animals are for people's souls. They are instinctively "therapeutic".
How has a dog or animal been therapeutic to you??
Allison Schley has been in the field of Deaf Education for 20 years. She founded Communication Connections,Inc, a nonprofit for families with hearing loss. She loves her newest friend, Dexter and created a story in hopes that children everywhere will learn to accept people with hearing loss and that kids with hearing loss will learn to accept themselves.