Question: With every person and every condition being so unique, how do I develop enough strategies to help everyone?
My journey into specialty education was largely a more personal one, there were some professional exploration but it was limited to ELL and high anxiety.
Understanding learning deficiencies has been difficult for me. The ways I have been taught and how I learned made have always made sense to me. To discover that the strategies that have helped me will be of little or no use to many of the students I hope to teach has been hard pill to swallow. In order to help my future students, I first had to begin to understand them. In order for me to do this I decided to read up on autism in hope that it would provide me with insight and strategies for all learners. In my exploration I came across two books and some videos on youtube that shed some light into autism and many learning deficiencies.
THE REASON I JUMP by Naoki Higashida was the first book I read during my exploration;The book is a memoir from a thirteen-year old Japanese student with autism. He answers questions that provide a lot of insight into the mind of a child with autism, why they react to certain situations, how self regulation works for himself, what is understood from instructions given. What I learned is that I will need to be patient with my students and that repetition in various forms will be the key to my students understanding my lessons and even then I am not guaranteed to be understood, but patience with be the key.
The other book I went through in my journey was: Life Animated by Ron Suskind.
I responded well on a personal level in reading this book. Likely it is because it explores autism while discussing animated Disney films; Which are a topic I feel well versed in. But also in how it explored the family side of autism which largely goes unknown or untold when dealing with learning deficiencies. The child with autism in the story uses animation, mainly disney as his outlet and guide for exploring the world; Using the dialog and voices from characters to express his own emotions and ways of understanding those he interacts with. I highly recommend this book.
If your interested in exploring autism more, I recommend watching the TED talks by Temple Grandin; She explains how her mind works in that she thinks in pictures rather than words and how we must think of all people as having different kinds of minds.
While limited, I did have some professional exploration with learning deficiencies during my practicum.
A few of my students have spoken to me about their anxiety within class; Mostly they are related to performing or speaking in front of their peers while another student has a much higher level of anxiety that can prevent her from participating within the classroom. For the students with performance anxiety I would allow a couple different options, either being able to present from where they were sitting, or in the case of the Zumba lesson for my senior girls, they were allowed to have a video with their routine playing facing them as they presented to the crowd incase they misplaced their timing or forgot a step. With my one student with higher than normal anxiety it required a different strategy; For her, I allowed that within groups/teams that were created, she could choose the group she wanted to be in or was placed in a group with one of her friends.
Students who are English Language Learners:
Majority of my focus in the past within specialty education has been directed toward students who have English as their second language. A quarter of the students within my grade 10 physical education class fall under English language learners. While there might not be as much written instruction given I feel that part of the difficulty in teaching some of these students is due to a bit of a culture shock within physical education between Langley fundamental and their country of origin. The male students have quickly been able to adapt to the course, I believe its partially due to their competitive nature mixing with the competitiveness and skill of the other students. As for my three female students, the gap between their ability and the classes is much more present. To help with these students I’ve taken a couple different steps. For instructions, one of the three is fairly fluent in English and will act as a translator for the other two, when we are going through a technique or drill I will have them partner with each other or with some of the kinder athletic students; Ones who already possessed most of the skills I was teaching but could act as guides for these students. Lastly for games, I partnered these girls with athletic students that could bridge the gap between the competitive level of the class and their abilities. A couple other minor adaptations had also been made to the rules for the games to ensure that everyone was able to participate. This included both roughness and passing rules.