Teaching with Diabetes

T1D Tuesday is a blog series on TypeOneNation.org that
features guest bloggers who are sharing their voices of how T1D affects
their life. For the month of August we are featuring all things Back to School!

Today meet Juliet, who teaches her first graders about her diabetes with Rufus the Bear with diabetes.

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I’ve always knew that I wanted to be a teacher, and after I graduated college, I was lucky enough to secure a job teaching first grade. After going through the student teaching process, I knew that I had to find a way to make my diabetes routine part of my classroom management plan. I decided very early on that I wanted to be honest with my students about my diabetes. I was diagnosed when I was five years old, so I knew that my first graders would be able to understand the basics of diabetes care. Also, I hoped that I might be able to help any other students with diabetes or teachers with diabetic students in our school. The summer before my first year of teaching, I found the picture book Rufus Comes Home a good age-appropriate resource about diabetes education that I use with my students during the first week of school. This picture book is about a young boy who is diagnosed with T1D. To help the boy, his mom makes him a special teddy bear friend named Rufus. Rufus has diabetes just like the small boy. He has a JDRF tee shirt, and patches of clothe sewed onto the spots on his body where he takes his shots.

 After reading the book, I decided to make my own “Rufus” bear, however I added one slight change. My Rufus has a small pump that I clipped to his side because I get so many questions from my students about my pump. During the first week of school, I introduce Rufus and read the book to my class. Afterwards, we have a discussion about what diabetes is, and is not, and I show my students my blood glucose monitor. I also talk about how I might need to eat snacks or drink juice during the day because I might need a special snack time. After we talk, I tell my students that Rufus is a friend that anyone can talk to, and that even though Rufus might have diabetes, he still listens to thoughts or worries that anyone might have, because all people have secret worries that they need to share. It has been a great way to educate my first graders about my diabetes, and Rufus becomes another member of our classroom in the process. I also take some time at back-to-school night to tell my parents about my T1D. I think that it is extremely important for teachers with diabetes to be honest with their students about their diabetes. It allows for a safer teaching environment and it helps educate more people about T1D. 

To learn more about how a newly diagnosed child with T1D can get a Rufus Bear through the Bag of Hope, contact your local JDRF Chapter.

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Juliet Stevens has been a type 1 diabetic for 21 years. She lives in Washington, DC, and teaches in a suburb in Maryland. She’s been teaching first grade for 5 years and loves her job! In Juliets free time, she loves to run, workout, cook, and volunteer at her local JDRF chapter.