Words Can’t Express How Nice This Is

, , , , , | Learning | August 14, 2019

I work at an elementary school in a third-grade classroom. One of our students is selectively mute; she physically can talk, but English is not her first language and she has severe anxiety about speaking it, so she just doesn’t talk at all. 

Every day, the students rotate to different stations to practice reading and writing. One of the stations involves pulling a popsicle stick out of a jar and reading the word on it aloud. If you get the word right, you get a point. Early in the year, I’m walking around to the different stations, and I see the mute student playing this game with two other students. I stick around to watch to make sure she isn’t being left out.

When it’s her turn, to my surprise, another student picks the popsicle stick and says the word aloud, and then the mute student writes it on a piece of paper. They tell me that they came up with that solution on their own so that they could still include her even though she didn’t talk.

Throughout my time at that school, I frequently find that her classmates come up with solutions to games and activities that allow her to participate, and from what I have seen, no one mocks or excludes her. It warms my heart to think of how naturally the students have accepted her and found ways for her to be part of the group so that she is never left out.

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