As the end of the year nears, holidays run together and family and friends come in and out of our doors. Sometimes the wrapping paper, meal preparations, and travel plans take up most of our time.
For me the holiday checklist is at the forefront of my mind. Those that know me are familiar with my love of checklists. Boxed bullet points give more order, help me stay on-track, and give me a sense of control of the things going on around me. Unlike in the past, this year my checklist became a source of anxiety about the holiday season. But I could not figure out why. I was doing all the suggested holiday traditions that are supposed to bring more joy during this time of year. Yet joy just did not seem to be inside those multiple squares. On the other hand frustration and anxiety showed up checkmark after checkmark.
So I applied a recently discovered method of the “5 whys.”
The first why?: Why were these activities bringing me frustration and anxiety? Answer: I didn’t enjoy the activities that we were doing. Now I could have stopped there and just changed the activities but I would not have gotten to the root of the cause.
So I asked a second why?: Why wasn’t I enjoying these activities? Answer: They felt rushed.
Third why?: Why were the activities rushed? Answer: I felt like I needed to get to the next checkbox quickly.
Fourth, why? Why did I need to get to the next checkbox? Answer: Checking the box became more important than the actual activity.
Fifth why?: Why was marking the squares the priority? Answer: The satisfaction of marking the square became the focus of the activity. Utilizing the 5 “whys” helped me to have a deeper understanding of the root cause.
Now I can look back at my checklist with a different perspective. I have to be honest, giving up the checklist probably isn’t going to happen. But what I can do instead is make it a priority to sit inside my checkbox and enjoy those four walls before quickly moving on to the next thing.
As educators we have a lot of checkboxes and sometimes we can lose sight of the joys of seeing students grow and learn. Checklists serve valuable purposes in guiding, documenting, tracking, and prioritizing but we have the choice of how they guide our actions as we complete those necessary items. PATINS Project staff often talk about a few checkboxes including the Assistive Technology (AT) box and Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) boxes on the Individualized Education Plan (IEP). These boxes are vital for documenting student’s accommodations and gaining equitable access to materials. Although it is important to mark these boxes, we also need to sit inside these boxes to make sure we are getting to know our students and their needs. One way to do this is to utilize the SETT model, designed by Joy Zabala, in the AT evaluation. Utilizing the SETT model results in Student centered, Environmentally useful, and Task focused system of selecting supportive Tools.
So when faced with these checkboxes, make sure to check them and take time to incorporate the SETT model into the evaluation process. If you do need more support on AT in the IEP, register for this no-cost 5-part series on AT in the IEP:
Part 1 - Getting the Money(Register): Friday, Feb. 10, 1:00 pm EST
Discussing funding sources for devices, training, and how to utilize PATINS for support.
Remember to sit inside the checkbox with the intention of seeing past those four lines to visualize clearly who your students are and what they need for success.