Saturday, September 15, 2012


There are rules, and then there's the gray area. Most of us on the spectrum have no problem with the rules; it's the gray area that gets us into trouble.

In the landscape of middle school, the gray that lies between the black and the white often forces arbitrary choices about how close to black or white all that gray is. And any ensuing explosion will be the result of that arbitrary choice. You can almost set a watch by it.

BUT...opportunities exist to explore and negotiate those gray areas for those willing to take the time and energy to do so. And this week, one of Nic's teachers took the initiative to see where this teachable moment would go.

It all started with a classmate, who approached Nic and offered him his place in an activity Nic wanted to participate in. Nic was told he wouldn't be allowed to switch, so he approached his teacher with his dilemma. In the past, he would have been told 'no,' and fireworks would have followed.

Yesterday, the teacher told him, "You committed to this other activity, but if you can find some one to take your place, you may switch."

So Nic approached some girls he knew and explained his dilemma. None of them could switch, but they might know someone who could.  So they fanned out, and Nic approached no less than two dozen people before he found some one to take his place.

On the surface, this is no big deal--how often do we find ourselves negotiating this kind of dilemma on a daily basis? We have a committment, we need to trade off, and we make the phone calls, emails, or have the conversations to negotiate our own scheduling conflicts.

But when you talk about a kid who has to LEARN how to do this......and when you give that child the OPPORTUNITY to learn this skill--and practice it, and execute it.....amazing things happen.

The excitement in the teacher's voice as she related these events to me tells me that she finally gets what I've been saying all along--you have to KNOW the teachable moments when you see them, and all things being equal, ALL moments are teachable.

She knew that she could cram several lessons into this particular teachable moment--and she made sure that she did.

And the pride in Nic's voice as he told me in his own words what happened yesterday tells me that none of these lessons were lost on him, either.

And that his peers helped him out?  We're getting somewhere.  :)

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