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18 January 2005: Stories From Full Inclusion (5 of 7)

I know that there are many, many reasonable, effective, caring teachers who wouldn't allow Harry to play with a tennis ball in their classroom. I don't blame them one bit. There are two reasons why I allowed it to continue, and they seem to be fairly effective elements for evaluation of educational practices.

First, was this practice making it harder or easier for Harry to learn? Well, in my observations, it was clearly making his academic life easier. Giving that student something to focus on, other than his compulsive behavior, made it easier for him to focus on the classwork or discussion at hand. His work was getting done, he was participating in positive ways, and his nose blowing had nearly stopped. Is it possible the ball was a focusing force, rather than a distracting force?

Second, was Harry's tennis ball making it harder or easier for the rest of the class to learn? This is the part where I am most proud. Shocking as it may be, no student other than Harry touched the ball during class time. No one tried. More shocking, never once did I hear the words "Harry" "ball" and "not fair" in the same sentence. They understood that it was in everyone's best interest that Harry get what he needed, and they could see that he needed that tennis ball.

teaching quote of the day

Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.

- Chinese proverb

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