When I look back at that second year of teaching, life seemed so much simpler. For students with disabilities that were more moderate and severe, the expectations for what to teach and how to do it were generally left up to the teacher. Because of my experiences working in group homes and up at summer camp, I really tried to focus on "life skills"; those skills that would get them ready for living in group situations or as independently as they could. So we learned to take care of clothes, sorting by color, folding correctly, etc. We worked on grooming skills like brushing teeth and hair and washing our faces. And the best of all was our little cafe! We called it Cafe 6A, since that was my room number.
I decided that once every couple of weeks we would make a meal at lunch time and invite one of the faculty to attend. There was a lot of teaching of skills with this activity and preparations for it. The students learned how to set a table correctly. They learned how to write up a menu and invitations.
Cooking the meal involved learning about food groups,the importance of washing your hands well, measuring and cutting up vegetables, pouring, stirring, turning on a stove or oven, and what to do if the temperature was too hot or too cold.
We also worked on social skills by having the students take turns being the waiter and taking the orders and conversing with the guest. In fact we all sat down with the guest and ate together, working on good manners and using proper utensils and napkins. Afterwards we always wrote a note to the guest thanking them for coming. I'm not sure what the faculty thought about this, and maybe they were just being gracious and took pity on a young teacher, but no one ever refused to come and everybody ate!
One more story about year two next week, and then on to year three!