Helsinki, I love you! One More Ability Guidebook for Finland! Senate Square.

To wrap up Ability Guidebooks Explore Finland we have a final book!  This one is for Senate Square.

cover Senate Square Helsinki

Ability Guidebook_ I Am Going To Senate Square!

I Am Going To Ride The Helsinki Metro! A New Ability Guidebook for Finland!

In a perfect world every airport, train station and metro would have books like these!  Here is my third book for Finland!

cover Helsinki Metro

Ability Guidebook_ I Am Going To Ride The Helsinki Metro!

I Am Going To Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden! An Ability Guidebook for Helsinki, Finland (autism supports)

Helsinki now has two Ability Guidebooks!  I present:

cover Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden

Ability Guidebook_ I Am Going To Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden

Finland! A New Ability Guidebook! A New Country! I Am Going To The Ateneum!

My first book for Finland is finished in English, not Finnish!  I am thrilled to announce: I Am Going To The Ateneum Art Museum!

Cover Ateneum

Ability Guidebook_ I Am Going To The Ateneum Art Museum!

Another Ability Guidebook for Estonia. I Am Going To The Niguliste Museum!

To round out my books for the Art Museum of Estonia I give you: I Am Going To The Niguliste Museum!

Cover Niguliste Museum

Ability Guidebook_ I Am Going To The Niguliste Museum!

Ability Guidebook! I Am Going To The Mikkel Museum In Tallinn, Estonia

Here is my newest Ability Guidebook for the Mikkel Museum in Tallinn, Estonia!  I am excited to offer these supports for people in Estonia who have autism.  If you speak Estonian, I’d love to get them translated!

cover mikkel museum

Ability Guidebook_ I Am Going To The mikkel museum

Classroom Ownership–A Plan For The First Day Of School

I’d like you to think of personal spaces for a moment. Think back to your first day in your new apartment, or the day you moved all your boxes into your first home. Remember that first drive in your new car or they day you moved into your dorm room at college. What is the first thing you did?

You personalized the space. Posters and mementos go up, art fills the walls, you labor over where the furniture goes and what kind of houseplants to get. Decorating does more than make a room beautiful, it gives you a feeling of home. It makes you invest in a space that the day before was alien to you.

Too many teachers forget that the classroom is home to students for a good portion of their waking hours. This empty, sterile room with uncomfortable seating and bright fluorescent lights is not home, yet your students are going to spend a good portion of the year looking at those four walls.

Most teachers put a lot of effort into getting their classrooms ready for their students. Throughout August my Facebook feed has been full of teachers sharing the hard work they have put in to creating amazing spaces for their kids. Part of me has a suspicion that some of my teacher friends are planning next year’s classroom before they’ve locked the doors in June.

I do things a bit differently. Often my students are dealing with emotional disturbances and they have not had good experiences in the school building. School is often not a happy place for them and not a place they feel ownership. That is why, in my classroom, the first day of school is all about decorating and snacks. Snacks because everyone likes snacks and decorating so the student feels like the space is theirs.

You can make a great bulletin board with Van Gogh prints but your classroom is chock full of Van Goghs. Not only do I cover the walls with student art I use them as a tool to build up my students. If a guest steps into my room I welcome them with, “Hello, just look at the amazing art the class created!” When the students leave my goodbye is, “I sure like that horse you drew!”

And that same art is how I start the next day. My greeting is all about the art. “We had the best day yesterday! That painting you did is amazing.” One drawing can generate days worth of praise because art is art. No matter what they have created it is success at school.

And that same art begins to create relationships around the school. “I was in the principal’s office and it is pretty sad…let’s take him one of our paintings!” It is not half-hazard. My kids need relationships in the library, the office, the cafeteria and so the students create for those spaces as well.

Every person feels more connected when they have had a hand in decorating and creating their own space. Pride is not always an easy feeling to create in a student but I use art to let them create it themselves.