First things first, unrelated to teaching: I’d like you all to go back to my piece about the Iowa caucuses from a couple of days ago, read it, and marvel at my prescience. I am too disgusted with politics in general at the moment to discuss any of the various issues of the day (ITMFA now stands for Impeach the Motherfucker Again, not Already, and I did not watch the State of the Union, because I am not a fucking masochist) so you get to read teachertalk instead.
I got a fair amount of feedback and advice (not all of it on the blog) after my post about my student with selective mutism a couple of weeks ago. I thought I’d report back: it turns out that she’s entirely willing to communicate in writing, so a day or two after writing that post I handed her a piece of paper with a short note asking some questions and she answered everything and gave it back to me. She’s generally not willing to call attention to herself but there have been a couple of times where I checked in with her and she’d written some questions in the margins of her assignments; she doesn’t seem to have any difficulty (and there’s no reason to think she would) with listening or processing what she’s being told, so I can answer her verbally just fine, although I’ll occasionally respond in writing just for the hell of it. I just have to make sure to check in with her once or twice during class because she usually won’t put her hand up. She’ll respond to direct questions with gestures, though, and there have been times where I got a thumbs-up or a “sort of” gesture after asking her how she’s doing. My kids also will ask for bathroom breaks with a sign language “B” a lot of the time, and she’s picked that up as well.
So in general things are going just fine. She’s a bright kid and she gets good grades and she pays attention, so I basically just treat her with the slightly higher level of attention that some of my ESL and shyer students get and so far everything has gone just fine.
(Also, I called her an elective mute in that first post, and that term is apparently outdated; they call it selective mutism now. I’m not entirely certain what the difference might be, but I like to use the right words for things.)