Entering the crazy. You could speculate that this statement pertains to my future scholarly endeavors, my general view of living life, or how I engage with specific individuals who are legitimately crazy, delusional, or random. All of these would be correct at one point or another. However, when it comes to my job, the last illustration fits the bill.

Through my time teaching, I discovered creative techniques to reach certain students. In the past months, I constructed a rhyme to help a student remember the letter Mm (Moose make Mondays marvelous mostly in the month of May!), switched topics frequently to keep a six-year-old’s attention span in tact, or personify letters of the alphabet. However, these actions are not bizarre or odd. By creative, I mean genuinely ridiculous actions that my closest friends describe as “entering the crazy.”

Three particular events float to my mind that typify entering the crazy to reach a student. The student is Delphi, an energetic eight-year-old with several undiagnosed learning disabilities. No matter the root cause, any student struggling with school work needs loads of patience and inventive teaching and learning techniques. For Delphi, I entered her crazy to get her to attempt her assignments, remember the material, or listen to me. Here are my stories:

1) One evening, Delphi arrived for tutoring. As I arranged her books, white board, and manipulatives, she began growling at me in a friendly but feline tone. Pursing my lips, I looked up and she translated, “I speak Tiger. Roaw, grrrr, purr.” Amused and unsure what to do or how to get her to desist, I thought for a minute then said, “Delphi, I only speak English. I don’t speak Tiger. I’ll need your help. Can you translate for me?” She nodded promptly growled a bit more, but continued the English translation for me for the hour.

2) Disciplining Delphi is frustrating. She frequently misbehaves or refuses to work and on one occasion she threw a market at me and the other student at the table. Her outbursts are rooted in frustration and embarrassment due to her self-awareness of her age and reading level. But asking her questions, saying “I need you to do ___,” or taking away her tokens does not always correct her behavior. Out of sheer desperation, I tried the mom count. One…Two…Three…. I had no idea what I would do when I arrived at three, but by the time I uttered the final number, she began to work. I realized the mom count worked! Future counting had consequences such as removing tokens or talking to her mother, but for now counting sets a boundary with how far I will acquiesce her crazy.

3) Another particular situation arose in which Delphi would sit at the table and cover her ears, declaring that she cannot hear what I was saying. I raised my eyebrows and began mouthing words with full facial expression and hand gestures. I mouthed something along the lines of “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.” She cocked her head, removed her hands and said, “I can’t hear you.” I shook my head and replied, “Well, that is because your ears were covered.” She covered her ears several more times, and I continued to mouth words. Questioningly, she put her hands down and I asked, “Can you hear me now?” “Yes.” she complied. “Good,” I said, “Now let’s get to work.”

**Delphi is currently under going testing for her learning disabilities.

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