A video came out a year ago, of special education teacher, Chris Ulmer, complimenting each of his students at the beginning of class. It went viral. In the video, he writes:
“Each morning I spend 10 minutes complimenting the students in my special education class. I have seen their confidence and self-worth skyrocket. Every child deserves to feel accepted in this world. Instead of focusing on deficits, I focus on talents.”
I remember watching it and thinking back to my days in grade and high school, thinking how badly I could’ve used a teacher like this.
I have a physical disability, as well as depression and anxiety. When I was in school, most of my teachers and educational assistants only seemed to focus on my faults and “bad” behaviours. I know I was more than that, I know I had strengths, I see it now but it would’ve been nice to hear more of the good things back then. The teachers and educational assistants probably would’ve been more appreciated and respected. Maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t have had a reason to “refuse to listen to them” or “act out” if they weren’t so mean.
“A child’s reality is shaped from early life experiences. If they have a mean, jaded teacher, they will think the world as mean and jaded. But if a teacher displays love, harmony and peace.. THAT will become their norm.” – Chris Ulmer
In 2016, Chris founded a non-profit organization called Special Books by Special Kids (SBSK). He also speaks at conferences, businesses and school as SBSK’s CEO.
SBSK started as a book series idea, featuring the kids in Chris’ class. However, the idea was shot down by many publishers who didn’t believe there was an audience for a series like the one Chris imagined. So he took matters in his own hands and created a multimedia movement. Their Facebook page now has almost 800,000 likes and their YouTube channel has over 3,000 subscribers.
SBSK started because Chris “feared that the world would never know their incredible intelligence and humor because of how isolated the neurodiverse community often is from society.”
SBSK’s mission is to spread “empathy, understanding and acceptance for neurodiverse individuals.”
It “brings awareness to the joys, needs, and struggles of the special needs community and promotes the acceptance and celebration of neurodiverse individuals by all.”
The SBSK team values honesty, respect, mindfulness, positivity and collaboration.
Working alongside with Chris is his girlfriend, Alyssa and their dog, Noodle. They work together to give individuals and/or their families an outlet to share their stories. They also “serve as an educational resource, inspiring the teachers of tomorrow through innovative and intentional curriculums.”
Below are a few of my favourite SBSK videos. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. The first one is a lot like me when I was his age.
Chris, if you’re reading this I just want to say I think what you’re doing is amazing. I wish I knew of you when I was in high school. The videos are just amazing. It gives me hope for future students. I’m so glad these kids are having a chance to show who they truly are, not just who other people think they are. Thank you for all that you do. Thank you for giving these kids a voice. And thank you for giving me hope future and current students. Keep doing what you’re doing.
All information and videos came from: