Remember the viral video from last year, in which a special needs teacher was giving his students compliments and praise, and does so every day for 10 minutes? That is Mr Chris from Special Books by Special Kids, and actually, students is the wrong word to name the kids he is teaching in his special needs class. They’re his friends. ‘I often refer to my students as friends. I constantly model friendship for my class so they are able to learn to treat one another with kindness and empathy.’
The special needs teacher in Florida posts videos on his Facebook page and shows how his friends love, play, enjoy themselves. He lets them be their best selves. He let situations play out and sees what happens, rather than correcting the students. One kid jumped up in the middle of his class and instead of telling him to get back to his seat, Mr Chris waited and saw that his friend just wanted write on the white board. “I <heart> Mr Chris”, he wrote. The initial sense of frustration in Mr Chris, faded into joy very quickly.
He got one of his friends to teach the other kids about the planets, and got him invited by NASA and a Space Center. ‘My friend is a brilliant young boy diagnosed with autism. Last week he whispered “I wish I could teach the world about the solar system.” Mr Chris replied spontaneously: ‘That day is today, get in front of the class.’ The lesson was filmed, and within four days his solar system lesson had 1.19 million views. He is currently the most famous astronomer in the world.
Mr Chris: ‘I am often asked how I developed my teaching style. The answer is from life experience. The following is another story that played a pivotal role in developing my mindset as an educator. During my early 20’s I loved to run marathons. I decided to take a break from training and hit the slopes. While snowboarding I tore my meniscus and had a large percentage of it removed. The doctor warned that I would not be able to run a marathon without intense pain. Instead of focusing on this news I dedicated my energy to strengthening the supporting muscles to take strain off of the meniscus. After a few weeks of strength training I went for a run. Ten miles later I realized there was no pain. Seven months later I finished a 50 mile ultra-marathon. There was no pain; well besides the typical pain associated with running a 50 mile race.
Special education is no different. Instead of obsessing over a diagnosis or preconceived limitation, I shift my focus to strengthening each student. I find no value in worrying about a student’s current limitations. It is more beneficial to focus on strengthening these skills sets.’
He shows how to react and communicate with those who are non-verbal or autistic. He never forces a connection, but just shows love, respect and appreciation. He let his intuition guide him. Most of all, he shows how to show love to everybody, no matter what the diagnosis or situation might be. Watch some of his videos, and I’m sure you’ll click Like for Special Books by Special Kids on Facebook to see it everyday. It’ll bring a smile and a tear to your face.
Mr Chris lives in Florida with his lovely girlfriend Alyssa and their rescue doggie Noodle. ‘For all of those people asking to donate money: We realized that all of this money would be fed back into spreading the SBSK movement anyway. So as of now, we do not require any money. If you would like to do something for us: share our page, spread it far. The most useful thing you can do to help, is click the three dots on our cover photo (at the top of the page). After that click ‘Invite friends’ and invite each of your friends to like the page. This isn’t about money, it’s about creating a better world. Thanks!’
So go ahead, and Like Special Books by Special Kids – Facebook, you won’t regret it!
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