At this moment, I am observing the children working on Visual Phonics. The children are reciting the letter name, letter sound, picture that starts with the letter, and a physical motion, which represents the sound of the letter. There is a child in the room who is jumping on a trampoline. This child is so focused and immersed in the activity. While bouncing, I can hear him reciting the letter and doing each action. Ironically, he is one of the most engaged participants in the room. The children surrounding him are concentrated as well with the activity at hand. Before we brought in the trampoline to our room this same child struggled to stay connected during many activities of the day from the morning meeting to story time. When it was suggested that we add movement to his learning, this modification helped him to thoroughly be part of the class and learn. If you had asked me last year how I would have felt about having a trampoline in my room, my first thought would have been “distraction.” This year, I have seen firsthand how modification, such as a trampoline in the room, can have a significant impact on a child’s learning and the other children are not fazed or distracted.
Another child struggles when it is time to clean up. She often walks away from an activity before putting it away. I walk up to her and show her a visual of “clean-up,” a picture that illustrates the task. The child looks at the picture, looks at me and says, “Oh, I need to clean-up!” She walks to the activity and picks up each piece, returning it to the shelf. I am amazed that by looking at a picture, it makes a connection for her immediately. I have used no words, just a simple action that has resonated in her consciousness.
At this moment, there is a boy running in the room. Maren, the Early Childhood Special Education teacher that I co-teach with, kindly stops the child and says, “walking” and shows him the printout of the classroom rules and states, “Running in not safe. Our classroom rule is that we walk.” The child looks at the pictures of the rules, smiles at her, and begins to walk.
I have seen so many changes in the behaviors and social skills of the children since we have taken on TACSEI this year. All staff in my classroom now use visuals while working together as a team in making modifications and adaptations for each child, and implementing many TACSEI tools from Sunny the puppet, Tucker the turtle, and social stories (just to name a few). We were also coached and observed on a regular basis to implement goals and new teaching strategies, which supported TACSEI. I believe that all teachers would benefit from this training, and families can bring so many of these ideas into their homes. I am appreciative that I could learn and implement these astonishing tools. With TACSEI, the children are learning how to do things on their own. This realization is clear when I hear a child say, “Teach me, so I can do it myself!”
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