Cindy L. Meester's Blog- Speech Therapy with a Twist

Zumba in my brain and other brainy thoughts

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on October 9, 2011

It has been a crazy start for me this year at school. I have been dealing with organized chaos for far longer than usual this fall. Luckily my job position was adjusted from going to two schools down to one…yeah! My learning curve is still high with all new staff and students but I’m getting there.

I was looking for a release to help with the stress and decided to try Zumba. Our school district is offering this free for 10 sessions so the price was right. I have never been one to exercise much so I thought it might be a bit challenging but my co-worker encouraged me to attend. It does help to have a buddy to nudge you along. I’ve been to two classes and found them to be totally “fun”… no really. It is very sweaty but I am smiling and laughing. What I noticed was being with others was great to keep me motivated and smiling helped keep me having fun.

Now how does this relate to working with special needs kids? It’s all about the brain. In my brain my body was doing the routines and keeping on beat but in the mirror not so much. When I mentioned this to my co-worker this was her “Yoda-like” insight- She stated she thinks about that when one of her students gets upset after writing an “imperfect” letter or word. What is in his brain did not transfer to his paper. So true! What our kids “picture” or “hear” in our brain does not always translate to the correct tongue placement, hand movement, etc. This can be very frustrating for everyone. So what to do? If you are waiting for the magical answer well…. so am I!

Here’s what I might do to translate the Zumba in my brain to my limbs:
• try again
• watch more
• give up
• keep on smiling and laughing

Here’s what I might do to help my students:
• try again
• talk less
• model more
• use a different technique
• work on a different goal
• consult with other SLPs
• read more articles and brain research
• keep on smiling and laughing
• but never give up

This reminded me of another post I added awhile ago. It talks about finishing the loop for kids’ brains. finish the loop

My brain came into this new position ready and willing. I had theme boxes packed and ready to go. I was going to be the best of the best! Then I met my kids and they reminded me that reality is not always in my brain. The school I am at is very high need and at least 40% English Language Learners along with a 93% minority population . What I packed into my brain and boxes did not necessarily fit into my caseload. It’s not that I won’t bring in these wonderfully planned and packed theme boxes. It is how I will use them and change them with better understanding of my students’ needs. One sweet first grader saw me searching for the sheets I write on for his group. He offered his advice on how I could become better organized. They are teaching me a lot.

So for now I am happy that I am:
• starting to learn student names and even matching them to the right faces
• and they are learning my name too…sort of… MEE STER (like ME STIR) or as on little guy calls me MEE Cho PEE Cho
• smiling and laughing (even at myself)
• have a speech schedule set up (finally)
• working with a great staff ( and learning their names too)

My theme this week:
Play dough- I even made purple, orange and black homemade jello play dough to use with a semi- Halloween/Fall theme. What will we do with it? I can’t wait until the kids “teach” me!
1. push into molds and let dry or not
2. use cookie cutters
3. hide items in the dough and hunt for them
4. roll it, squish it, etc. and talk about shapes, textures, sizes
5. use my brain mold and foam brain to talk about our flexible brain
6. Hasbro Play Dough Ideas
7. Play Dough App

Jello Play Dough:
1 cup of flour

1/2 cup of salt

2 tablespoons of cream of tartar
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

1 cup of warm water
Three ounces of jello – any flavor you wish
I added food coloring to make my orange orangier before mixing the ingredients.
I tried adding this to my purple after it had cooked and it wasn’t as successful.
I made black by taking a small amount of the purple dough and adding food color until it was dark.

Combine ingredients and cook over medium heat until it thickens. It will start to pull away from the side of the pot. Knead until cool enough to touch. Takes about 8 minutes. Store Ziploc bag or other container.


7 Responses to 'Zumba in my brain and other brainy thoughts'

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  1. Nancy Barth said,

    Good insights! I’m glad you only have one school to worry about. I hated going to more than one! Did you know there’s an iPad app from Play-do for following directions to make certain things?

  2. cmf said,

    I’m loving Zumba too although we are blessed not to have mirrors in our gym. I also take great inspiration from a woman who clearly has motor planning and timing problems but she comes every week, flings her arms and legs in every directions, is nowhere near the beat but is smiling and loving every minute of it!

    I followed your link to “Finish the loop” and loved that too. I try to remember something like that when I am tempted to rush in and re-prompt or “help” a student. My helping can disrupt their loop as much as an outside distraction. Wait long enough and they either tell what help they need or I am often pleasantly surprised.

    • Cindy said,

      Are you sure you are not watching me in Zumba…LOL! Yes- we all seem to want to rush rush rush. It takes strength to slow down, listen and learn!

  3. Katrina said,

    Thanks for your blog! I think the same when I am learning something new. I am learning to be patient with myself- and it makes me a better therapist- for myself, too!

    • Cindy said,

      You are welcome! I hope it helps someone once in a while. I can usually be patient with kids I work with. It’s the other things in my life that I need to learn more patience!

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