In One Drawing, Special Educator Challenges the Way We Teach Kids

“Children learn in many different ways. It is time we adapt to their needs,” wrote Chris Ulmer, a special education teacher, on his Facebook page.

Ulmer, 26, is the celebrated teacher whose video of the awesome way he starts class each day went viral in November 2015. He teaches at Mainspring Academy in Jacksonville, Florida, and recently shared a video demonstrating how he believes special education should work.

In the video posted to his Facebook page, Special Books by Special Kids, on Monday, Ulmer points to a picture of a stick figure child on the white board and explains that education is the bridge between where that child starts out and where society wants them to be. But, Ulmer says, not all children start out in the same spot. Some start farther along the bridge, some start above it or under it, and some start farther away from it. What education should do, Ulmer argues, is meet each child where he or she is at.

It is the duty of a teacher to meet students at their current level and guide them to their full capability,” Ulmer wrote above the video on his Facebook page.

Ulmer uses the example of allowing his students to interact by “scripting,” or repeating words and phrases from TV shows and movies they like, to ease them into other types of social interaction.

Check out Ulmer’s video below:

Creating BridgesChildren learn in many different ways. It is time we adapt to their needs. It is the duty of a teacher to meet students at their current level and guide them to their full capability.

Posted by Special Books by Special Kids on Monday, February 8, 2016


“Over the last three years I have served as a special education teacher. These three years have been the best of my life,” Ulmer told The Mighty via Facebook messenger. “I have taught the same group of students during this time. They have taught me that every single child is capable of progressing if we are willing to meet them at their current level. I believe it should be the responsibility of a teacher not to impose a mandatory curriculum but to meet a child at their level and guide them to their full potential.”

Ulmer has also made headlines for his initiative to turn his students into published authors and for the cool way he wraps up his classes at the end of the week.

Check out the Facebook page for Special Books by Special Kids, which is updated daily, to keep up with Chris Ulmer and his class. 

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Other

Closeup of a teachers desk with books, paper and pen and a red apple in front of a chalkboard

24 Secrets of Special Education Teachers

We posed this question to the special education teachers in our Mighty community on Facebook: “What’s one secret about your job you wish the rest of the world knew?” Their answers were honest, heartfelt and gave us some real insight into what their jobs entail. Here are just some of the “secrets” special education teachers want [...]

The Moment I Tried to Run Away From My Life

Do you know the feeling you can get when you run? The harsh pounding of the wind against your chest, your legs jolted by the bounce on the pavement, the endless expanse of clouds swallowing up every other thought in the world?  The feeling that nothing else exists? In that moment, nothing matters but the feeling of [...]

25 Things People With Chronic Illness *Really* Want for Valentine’s Day

As soon as the first Valentine’s Day decorations go up in stores every year, grumblings about “Hallmark holiday” and “commercialism” often follow. But really, Valentine’s Day is just an opportunity to show the people in your life a little extra love. And the gifts that mean the most to them rarely require a trip to [...]

Greyhound Agrees to Pay Passengers With Disabilities It Discriminated Against

The nation’s largest provider of intercity bus transportation has agreed to compensate people with disabilities discriminated against on its buses. Greyhound Lines Inc. has agreed to implement a series of reforms to resolve allegations that it repeatedly violated the Americans With Disabilities Act, under the terms of a consent decree filed by the Justice Department [...]