One of my early experiences as a student teaching special needs children relates to an occurrence when I observed a teacher correcting a child, in a loud and demeaning way for failing to pick up dance sequence. Sue (name withheld) started crying and refused to participate in the dance class. 'You didn't get one step right'! Teacher said. 'No', was the reply from the young girl. All the children in the class responded by feeling sad for her and the atmosphere became very negative. My immediate reaction was to look into Sue's eyes; the hurt, upset and humiliation were obvious (Goffman, 1997). I wanted to give her reassurance to build up her self-image as it had been left damaged. I felt concerned for Sue having to endure abuse such as that. When I asked about the child at the end of the class regarding her particular difficulties, the teacher replied that 'sometimes she was lazy and had to be pushed'.
Unfortunately, I made a decision not to say anything about the situation. I did not want to create poor relations with my supervising teacher and I had not learned how to deal with such incidences.
It has always concerned me that I did not deal with the first problem immediately. My way has always been to see the good in children and I look to encouraging as well as building up their self-esteem.
The line of attack I have used today is very different from my early beginnings as a young trainee teacher; the strategy implemented would be a positive one (Dattilo & Smith, 1990). An encounter I experienced recently was where a class teacher ridiculed a child. After seeing the upset in the child and also noticing that her self-esteem was lowered, I immediately decided to point...