The Dreaded Plank.

It didn’t take me long in my career to realize that one of the best things I could do for my students was to practice what I preach and use good coping skills. You know, modeling how to put on your oxygen mask before assisting others and whatnot. I soon learned that if I didn’t exercise regularly, I wasn’t releasing the endorphins I needed to counteract bureaucracy monsters, crises, and vicarious trauma of the job. So I married a personal trainer.

Okay, fine, that’s not why I married him, but it sure was a fantastic bonus prize. Even though he has since changed careers and is now a professional photographer, I still make him make me work out from time to time. At first, it’s weird to have your husband telling you to drop and give him 20 pushups, but once you get over that, it’s awesome. I mean, free in-home training! With a dreamy trainer! Wait, where was I? Oh yes, coping skills.

This morning I had a session with my hubby and he told me to start with a plank. For those of you who don’t know, a plank is an evil yoga move that basically makes you hold your body weight up in a high pushup until your stomach and arms burst into flames. So I get in the plank position and hubby starts telling a story. After about 10 seconds, I am starting to feel the burn. Hubby continues with his story. 10 or 20 more seconds go by. His story goes on. I freak out on him: “You can’t just leave me here in plank position without a road map! I need to know how long I have to suffer!,” I cry out. Taken aback, he said, with encouragement, “10 more seconds, honey. You can do it.” And I did.

It reminds me so much of the kid during testing who always asks, “How much longer do we have?” after every single subtest. Learning is difficult for these kids. It doesn’t come easy and it is hard to persist without a road map. They want to know how long they have to suffer, just like I did in the dreaded plank. So today, when testing a kid with a severe learning disability and emotional disturbance, he immediately asked, “How long do I have to stay here?” I showed him the protocol and how many we were going to do, and had him check them off after each accomplishment. He tried to quit several times. I went back to the roadmap, and encouraged him to continue. He did. It was the most I’ve gotten out of one of my severe needs students in a long time.

Thank you, dreaded plank. And thank you, patient hubby. Now I can only adopt a growth mindset and hope that the plank gets easier for me with practice, and learning to persist with challenging tasks gets easier for my kiddos with practice too…

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Comments on The Dreaded Plank.

  1. Mrs. Reality says:

    So many of my kids need tasks broken up into tangible time frames "before lunch" or "after pe". Isn't it interesting how we forget that we need to visualize the finish line, but forget to provide it for the kids?

    Really enjoying the blog! I have tons of kids who go through the full eval process, and love our own school psych. Your perspective really opens up a different world to us gen ed teachers!

  2. Sioux says:

    What a great idea. I like having an agenda in a meeting, and feeling like like progress is being made as I make little checkmarks after every item is discussed.

    Clever title. I imagined you had been forced to "walk the plank." However, death by pirate's sword is preferable to THAT kind of plank.

  3. luckeyfrog says:

    I think it's so important to put up schedules because certain kids thrive on knowing what's coming up next.

    I had a class of kids for summer school that were all considered high risk- which means they rarely come out of a test feeling good, and at the end of summer school, we had a lot of them to take. On one day in particular, we had a lot to finish up and I knew it'd be frustrating for them. I put a list of the tests on the board so they could see what we had to take, and then I let one of them cross off each one when we finished.

    It was one of those spur-of-the-moment ideas that worked out so well. Turns out, the kids are just like me- incredibly satisfied when I can cross even one tiny task off of a list and see that I'm making progress!

  4. Anonymous says:

    I also like "Time Timers" because they are very visual and less abstract.

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