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Teaching and Learning

Tuesday was National Teacher Appreciation Day and we’re coming to the close of National Teacher Appreciation Week. I want to grab the opportunity to say something about this before it’s over. This is not to say that we cannot appreciate teachers any day or week of the year. We can and we must. It’s fun, though, to jump on board an official week! We have an endless year-round stream of official appreciation days and weeks, some frivolous and some highly deserved. A couple of weeks ago, for instance, we had National Rubber Eraser Day. I didn’t celebrate that one. I do want to celebrate my appreciation of teachers … teachers everywhere and the teachers I work side by side with.

The behavioral lens on life is a learning lens. We are who we are and we do what we do because of what we come into the world with and how the environment (and the people in it) shape (i.e. teach) us. There are ‘teachers’ with that title, and then all the other teachers: your parents, your siblings, your kids, your friends, strangers on the street who react to the things you do….

I cannot testify to all of the gifts I’ve received from my ‘official’ teachers, but here are a few. There was Ms. Hosley, my first grade teacher who taught me that reading is a beautiful and useful thing to do, building on my sister’s Dick and Jane tutelage (“See Spot run”). There was Ms. Smith, my third grade teacher who, after sending me out to the hall to reflect on my behavior, came out to tell me that this was a respectful lesson because she thought I, of all children, could benefit from it. There was Mr. Stevenson who sent me back my weekly 500 word themes on literature with more red ink than black. He taught me how to write. There was Bob Aborn, my music theory mentor, who said things like: “You have a question… ask Professor Powsner”, and “Where’s your pencil?… You don’t have a pencil?… Are you serious about music?” Then there was George Durham, my ABA mentor, who taught me that everything is generic… and everything is personal.

This brings me to the 120 or so teachers we have here at SD Associates. Regardless of title, they are all teachers. The receptionists teach me how to organize my day and they shape the flow of traffic in and out of the building. Business office folks teach me what I need to do and when I need to do it. Human resource people teach culture survival within the organization. Beyond that, our direct service professionals and their supervisors, regardless of title (BI, PSI, ABC, BCaBA, BCBA, SLP, special educator) are all quite simply, and beautifully, teachers. In ABA, we bandy the word ‘treatment’ around, but the reality is, ABA is an educative therapy. We teach people what to do and how to do it. Beyond that, they begin to teach themselves, and everyone else around them. This is exciting work and I have no end of admiration for the skill and dedication of my compadres. Viva “National Teacher Appreciation Week”!

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