Teacher's Desk: Astroempires Winner

My loveable thug, the one I wrote about before, called me this week. When he left our school a month ago, I knew he had an upcoming trial. He called me to let me know he was okay, won his trial, and could I help him find a GED program? Working with the type of students I do, it is all about building relationships before any learning can take place. To gain the trust of a student not used to trusting adults made me feel like “Teacher of the Year.”

Our social worker announced she had coats, gloves and hats available. She asked me if I knew a student in need? I sure did! My astroempires teammate runs around all year with a t-shirt and thin hoodie. I suspected his mom couldn’t afford a new coat as she is on welfare. Now he has a nice warm coat, hat, and gloves.

I became his astroempires teammate after he overheard me discussing a different on-line game I play with a shy student. My teammate asked me to try astroempires. Since he’s had attendance issues and doesn’t make friends easily, I said sure! I thought our playing the game together could be the buy-in he needs. It has been.

A little over a week ago, we enrolled a student with autism spectrum disorder. I knew I would have my work cut out for me as his educational needs are also social, as well as, academic. Yesterday, he chatted with me, looking straight at me! He joined my school book club and really got into the nonfiction (his request) book I chose for him. Then, during our reading class, he was extremely participatory with great answers. Last period, I saw him hanging out in the lobby and I scooted him to his class, using our discipline coach as the bad guy, “It’s a good thing I caught you and not Mr. Burke. He’d call your mom and you’d be in a world of hurt this weekend.”

Helping these young people is why I love my job!

Kathleen Kullback is a licensed special educator with an MA in educational leadership and policy studies, and is a former candidate to the State Board of Education.