Persuasive Writing

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A new strategy that the school has been using since we met for a crisis intervention plan, has been to allow The Boy to send me an email when he is overwhelmed. He can go to several designated spots, hop on the computer and email me about what’s going on or what’s bothering him.

Usually, it entails a couple of emails back and forth about someone being absent. I encourage him to stick out the day, and he does.

Monday, the conversation was a bit more lengthy:

The Boy: I need you to come pick me up from school because I got sick on the bus on Saturday and then (the band director) told me to take Monday off and also, (one of his friends) and (his TA) took today off as well. I don’t want to get the other students and teachers sick. Especially (his social studies teacher) because he missed way too much school within the past 3 months. I even thought (another friend) was out too along with (the first friend) and (his TA). That is until I saw her at her locker at the end of class. I might tell her later that I may not be able to be in Social studies. I also feel really exhausted from Saturday and out of shape and I feel like I need rest. and If you can’t come, maybe Grammy and Poppy can pick me up in the black saturn vue.

Me: I know there are a couple of people absent, but your friends would miss you if you left. I need you to try to stick it out, ok?

The Boy: I can’t just stay here. If I do, I am a little worried that I might get more people sick and then they might miss school tomorrow and besides, (the band director) told me to take today off on Saturday. It’s nothing personal. He just can’t have me getting his other band students sick. I only air high-fived and pretend hugged the girls on Saturday because I didn’t want them to miss school today, although one of them already did and that is (the first friend). So now  I feel like I need to take the rest of this day off and then come back tomorrow, also let Grammy know (the band director) told me to take this day off. and Hopefully (his TA) (and the first friend) will be back tomorrow too.

Me: I’m not sure where (his TA) is but I would guess she’ll be back tomorrow. (The first friend’s) family extended her trip in DC, so if she is not back tomorrow, she will probably be on Wednesday, but she isn’t sick.  You don’t have too much longer, Bubba. See if you can stick it out. I know it’s tough, but don’t forget that if you can last the day, Grammy is taking you to Brrberry!

There were a few more emails back and forth, and then he went back to class. As I’m writing this post, I just got another email about how only one person came back today. But the strategy seems to be working, and I was tickled to see the quality of the language, the writing, and the persuasion he used. And writing is supposed to be one of his deficits! I wonder how far he could get with a little inspired teaching!

Common Sense

“Common Sense isn’t so common.”

How many times have you heard this phrase?

How many times have you really thought about it, though?

It seems like every day I come across some situation where someone’s behavior or the string of words that come out of their mouth are shocking to me. “They don’t have a lick of sense!” would be a usual response around here.

When employees are at work at a retail store and are “spoken to” because they are not being discreet with their phones… and there is no one in the store.  When teachers “modify” a test down from 75 questions to 15. When a young man with autism isn’t paid for a year of work at a restaurant. I could go on.

Maybe we are becoming more individual which is a good thing.  I mean, everyone is entitled to their own opinions and thoughts, and heaven forbid we go back to the days where kids were seen and not heard, and women voted the way their husbands did (or even to the days when women couldn’t vote!). Everyone was polite then, and there were things that just weren’t done — everyone conformed. And that’s not ideal, either.

But I think somehow, with all of this “entitlement” to our opinions, we have lost something. Is it the ability to think rationally? to problem solve? to logically analyze what’s going on and make deductions based on evidence? to reflect on ourselves, our own behavior, motivations, and actions?

I’m not one to bash technology.  I think it’s a great tool, I use it every day, all the time. But I wonder if our reliance on technology has turned us into a people that cannot think for themselves. Not just about opinions, but about facts, evidence, and what to do with those facts and evidence to make things better for other people and ourselves.

I saw it when I was teaching, and asked my 6th graders to really research and think about the purpose music had in different cultures. They would simply go to google and type: “What is the purpose of music in South Africa?”

Thinking takes time and effort, and unfortunately, I think people of all ages are doing less and less of it.  And as I always told my band kids, when they weren’t practicing their skills, “If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.”

Food for thought, my friends.