“Know what is important and let the rest go”

“K” – by Chelsea Hackett

When I began working with EASE, it felt like everything was slightly overwhelming.  There were a lot of activities to learn, as well as differentiating to each population, supporting the teachers and their needs, and traveling to far out boroughs to make it all happen.  I remember feeling excited, nervous, and generally like I was going to be learning a lot.  Then I heard the phrase that I have carried with me into ALL of my teaching, both within EASE and outside of it. It is a phrase that helped me to sift through everything I would be doing and learning in order to see what really mattered.   It is the “K” in the EASE foundational acronym of “K.N.O.W”:

Know what is important and let the rest go.

The K might be the most important thing to my learning in the EASE process, and the effectiveness of EASE in the classroom.  In the classroom, I am able to say this to the teachers to remind them that we have goals for each of the students, and while they may not be reaching them in the way that LOOKS how you thought it would, they are getting there.

Take Max, for example. He is a young student on the spectrum who often struggles to attend for 5 minutes, let alone an entire class period.  However, when we placed a paintbrush and a glass of water in Max’s hand, he was sitting and focused for over 20 minutes straight.  Did he spend 10 of that exploring the paintbrush?  Yes.  Did he spill water everywhere?  Yes.  Did he paint something that will stand the test of time? No!  It was water.  So it dried.  But at the end of the day, Max was focused, attentive, and even communicated with us when he wanted more water; something that was unfathomable to the teachers before it happened.  The “K” of our day wasn’t that the table stayed dry or we had something to hang in the classroom. The “K” was that Max took one small step closer to reaching the goal of focusing on a task and using his words to communicate.  And the best part was, Max got to take that step in a way that he was comfortable with.  I can’t think of anything that could be more important.  And the rest of it?  We let it go.