Sem Elementary School

Sem Students Embrace Peers in Active Learning Classroom

Jun 02, 2014

One little girl’s friendship with an Active Learning Class (ALC) student has changed the lives of several Sem students and a teacher.

Third grader Ameerah Baker started showing up before school to visit with an ALC student she had befriended. The students in ALC usually have significant developmental delays, are sometimes nonverbal and have mobility issues. Ameerah saw ways she could help around the classroom. Soon she was recruiting other classmates. The students gathered in the ALC classroom in the mornings and began greeting the ALC students in the hallways or at Specials. This year there are 26 ALC Helpers.

When so many students started coming to help, active learning teacher Amy Brock drew up some rules, had the students sign a contract and put them on a schedule. The rules involve classroom behavior and interaction with ALC students. The helpers must learn to respect each ALC student's personal space and that they must not interfere with the ALC student’s equipment and materials.

“This has helped make our kids feel more a part of Sem, but it is also a way to teach the helpers how to socially interact with students,” Brock said. “I tell them how old the ALC students are and sometimes they are surprised to find they are the same age as they are.”

The ALC Helpers learn to treat the ALC students not as younger siblings, but as peers with high fives and smiles.

“Our ALC helpers have made a noticeable difference in awareness and acceptance of my students school-wide,” Brock said. “Now when we travel the hallways, general education kiddos call out to their ALC friends and our students have additional opportunities for peer modeling from students without disabilities.”

They have also increased social interactions for Brock and the ALC aides. The students speak to them in the halls and call them by name.

“It’s a huge benefit to me,” Brock said. “I don’t get to work with kids who can say 'Hi! Ms. Brock.' It has made me feel more like a part of the Sem community, too.”

Ameerah Baker with Titus Daily

ALC Helpers