JIVE LIVE in the Classroom!

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Total engagement, inclusion, and focus of each class is the Teacher’s dream realized. Creating moments where classroom materials marry with imaginations to transport us to new understandings can be rare or regular; much depends on the learning environment and collaboration of the team. USE HIGH LEVEL PERFORMANCE ABILITY TO ENGAGE STUDENTS.

 

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Traditional teaching methods could look a lot like the scenario above; teacher-centered, other staff supporting from the background, students listening passively. Modern teaching methods, we’re told,  differ greatly. They are more student-centered, individualized, self-paced, and teachers coach or support along side the students. But many ask, “What does that look like?”

 

Student-centered and individualized learning looks just like the picture above as well! Or parts of it does, the lesson, the progress towards understanding is similar; it does look similar to classrooms we are familiar with much of the time. One difference is the ordering, the timing, the implementation, and assessments of student learning could look and feel quite different. Students in the picture above are hearing a story, experiencing a conflict they are going to try to resolve, right before they engage in a hands-on project to test their knowledge and reasoning ability. A student centered classrooms has all the same learning goals as a traditional one, but we will more frequently ask students to do most of the work independently, once the framework and the exercise is explained. What is “added value” in modern environments is hands-on and digital components, teamwork, innovation, expressions of students (possible changing the direction of the lesson slightly!), and scientific inquiries into real inquiries the class will see along the way, question,and then engage in direct discovery about. Teaching with inquiry-based themes, hands-on projects, and teamwork on progress towards requisite products of the course, do require some restructuring of an educator’s ideas about learning components in the lesson and prioritizing of delivery of each part. On teachers part, it may require a robust effort to be more adaptable to change, and more adept at stepping out of the way of student dynamics when projects go in new or unexpected directions.

 

Teacher’s new goals in the educational environment include;

  • guiding students into the realms of a subject or problem,
  • show them a question or theme to be explored during the learning experience,
  • responding with feedback at appropriate places,
  • without doing too much to assist the learner.   

Teachers also have to analysis, collect formative data, and plan for the learning needs trajectory of each student that can allow an for in-depth measurement of their skills, progress, and aptitudes. Some teacher’s assessments of students will need to be done in traditional ways through tests, and some of it will perhaps be digitally achieve portfolio materials, including student owned social media content that shows student expertise and mastery of a subject- not only to the administrators of a course or school, but potentially to employers or collaborators in the field and global economy. School has taken on whole new dimensions with large-scale internet availability to research, open resources to learn from, and private educational opportunities abounding. Competition from student attention and focus is much greater in today’s world.

Schools who remain competitive and deliver competent educational credentials must quick advance into the digital age of learning. Materials and courses should be UDL accessible and understandable to a large range of learning abilities, also available to the mobile or in-person student body, with easily understandable and transferable credits.

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The STEAM Learning Curve

Why interactive and hands-on experience beat classroom academics alone…..

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When Kids are invited to participate with learning ideas life-long learning grows. Encourage your kids to learn STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) skills by taking them out of the classroom and into the natural wilds and wonders of the museum!

Parents and educators often ask STEM teachers what they can do to stimulate students’ interest and exploration in the Science, Engineering, and Technology fields which appear to be the skills jobs of the future will most need. I tell them the most important feature of a passion to study science is personal unanswered questions, or insights into the way the world works. These questions spark a person’s “need to know” into a passion which transcends normal inquiries and may carry the person to extend and deepen their study in several ways. One way that helps students develop and internalize open-ended questions and follow through with study in a scientific, measureable, and observable way is a first-hand experience with an environment or concept. The “ahh-ha” moment might happen in many different ways, including during a field trip or vacation that includes highly educational and interactive venues! The next opportunity to travel with young people, or when taking a day off work consider an educational venue! Have fun while promoting and modeling your interest in STEAM subjects.

 

Visit the Exploritorium an interactive exhibit featuring the intersection of Science, Art, and human perception.

 

Experience first-hand science and football intersecting in the San Francisco 49ers Museum STEM in Football challenge.

 

In Los Angeles don’t miss the STEM coding and programming introduction to computer animation techniques at the California Science Center.

Now through April 16, 2017 take a look inside the film making industry and the math and engineering behind entertainment.

 

While near Long Beach Harbor visit the incredible exhibits of natural science exploration at the Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach. The Aquarium designs specific UDL tours for students with disabilities. While on the bay at Long Beach go on a whale watch (in the winter), and visit the historic RMS Queen Mary ship tours for developing STEAM exhibits.

 

Traveling further up the California coast, where we visit viewing areas of geology, marine biology, and wildlife habit along the way, is a wonderful resource for understanding the uses of and our relationship to the oceans, at Monterey Bay Aquarium, where you can interactive with educational exhibit in person or remotely! This invites involving students to experience hands-on science in all new and virtual ways, experiencing both in person and on mobile devices.

If you find yourself further north in Portland, Oregon take time to visit the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. Where you can take an interactive tour of science and engineering concepts that play a role in our technology-based culture. Plus you can visit a Planetarium and learn about the exploration of space.

 

Unforeseen Behaviors: Sensory Stimulations

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“Sometimes I feel of another world….”

Finding Sensory Stimulation and Balance

“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain-

And most fools do.”      -Benjamin Franklin

 

The world we live in full of beautiful sights, sounds, smells, and tactile things. Imagine if your sensitivity to all these physical and sensory stimulations was magnify by 10 times? by 100 times? by 1000 times? People with Autism may in fact experience the world that way!

The thought of such a life experience is scary, overwhelming, even unbearable. And may be exactly what people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and certain other conditions may face every day. Sensory stimulation is a constant flow of communication from the outside world to each of us. Sensory input can help us prepare for what’s coming and prevent some disastrous events; help us stay connected, be empathetic, compassionate, and make judgements about things we want or don’t, and help us form relationships. Over sensitivity, or under sensitivity to stimulation can be annoying (like the itch one can’t reach), or worse yet, dangerous (such as being unable to sense the warning signs that could save us from disaster). Sensory stimulation must have balance to be useful on personal levels.

People who have ASD frequently express a state of anxiety brought on by either too much, or too little, sensory stimulation for them at that moment. Many are unable to regulate or communicate their perceptions of sensations and are inexperienced in coping with them. At times a person can behave aggressively, running away, and engaged in other behaviors unexpectedly. Like a tensioning device with no governor that tightens till it explodes, the child with Autism has many unforeseen behaviors that interfere with functional independence in very real ways. Only fools criticize the person with ASD for their relationship to stimulations. Tools are needed to help support the expression of and managing of feelings, emotions, and sensations. Music is perfectly designed to help individuals do this.

In this segment we look at a consumer electronic device that can be useful in creating more stimulation, less stimulation, or blocking out stimulations from the environment so a person with a disability can eat, sleep, play, unwind, or be generally safer and more self-sufficient in their environment thus contributing to overall happiness of the family, the child,  and the caregivers!

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The loved ones of those with ASD know just how intense and destructive a behavioral “melt down” can be. Parents soon learn to monitor the individual with ASD carefully, and attempt to prevent or resolve the inevitable “melt downs” when they happen. They look for tools that assist the individual to cope, and music is one of the solutions many turn to. Research has increasingly confirmed that music helps the human brain relax, restore, regulate, balance, and heal. Music is a social and personal stimulation means used by many for entertainment, learning, and therapy.

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“Sleep Phones” are new headphone devices designed to give the user comfortable, wireless, hands-free stereo music at anytime and anywhere without bulky headphones, earbuds, or wires. The Bluetooth mini-speakers are located in a soft, micro-fabric, stretch headband. The electronics can be easily removed to wash the fabric band; come in different colors and three sizes. The slim electronics are not easy to detect when laying down, sitting, standing, exercising, so you can sleep on it comfortably. They tend to reduce ambient noise around the user, even snoring. A sports-style headband is available for the very active person. The Bluetooth version charges easily with a UBC cable (included) and has good battery life, but has a very short network range so the player must be with 2-3 foot of the user to work well. SleepPhones come with pairing instructions and a free app of recommended music.

You may find the over stimulated mind responds well to the calming and grounding influences of music listening. Popular music may not offer as much of this, streaming music services may include commercials, so the best solution maybe purchasing and downloading your own selections of music that can be saved and used on multiple devices and upgraded or changed at will. Our recommendation is to choose the music the person using the device responses to most positively and consistently. Don’t change up the music too often, as a person with disabilities prefers the known and familiar especially when de-escalating. Our favorite site for music specializes in instrumental, easy-listening, harmonic and orchestral music without lyrics produced at 63-65 beats per minute (which approximates the human heart rate) and soothes the biorhythms. Our therapeutic music site; “Primitive Jam Studios” !

Primitive Jam Studios by Doc A. Budlow

You can listen for free, then purchase a song or an entire “Sound Painting” for your collection. Music can be looped or randomized for long plays. Music is a good therapy tool that many turn to for relief of stress, to relax, meditate, and to assist concentrate. Background music can be a valuable sensory and self-regulation tool for the person with communication issues, stress, grief, and those on the ASD spectrum.

Don’t forget to share our site with your friends and family! We are at:

www. Enable Them .com

Uncertainty Avoidance : Socializing for the Hard-of-Hearing

 

Over one third of American adults experience some form of hearing loss today. Hard-of-Hearing (HOH) and legally deaf (DD) people abound in our families and workplaces, schools, churches, and diners. People with hearing difficulties tend to over compensate for their hearing challenges rather than advocate for us to accommodate them; I know, I am one of them. When a person has DD/HOH they may avoid activities and events where the uncertainty of not understanding what is going on is greater. Some of us have hearing aides but these often don’t work well in crowded or noisy environments.  Folks with HOH may try to compensate by; reading lips or body language, reading the print materials available, asking a friend to clarify and simplify, asking for information to be repeated, (“What?”) or even guessing the content of the message.

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Universal designs for learning (UDL) are effective tools for helping people access information better, whether or not they need an accommodation, that should be used by everyone with a message to give others or trouble with receiving it. For HOH accommodations like;

  • Captioned videos.
  • Materials available in print for speeches and pre-recorded auditory messages.
  • Recorded versions of the presentation posted online with captions.
  • Copy of the speech script.
  • Sign language interpreter.

“FM” systems are a common way for learning and presenting organizations to assist  those with HOH to access training, lectures, and other public presentations. A microphone and transmitter must be worn by the speaker and a receiver with headphones is used by the listener to amplify auditory volume. Background noises are a big problem. Another trouble is, to work properly the equipment must be adjusted slightly to each new user. A 20-30 minute training and adjustment period is needed for the equipment to work well for the listener, for each new speaker. This is not always possible, or those with HOH may not want to interrupt a speaker to ask for hearing assistance, including a training period!

Another tool exists which may help students, elders, and others with hearing challenges to hear more accurately and remember important facts from auditory presentations. This device allows a person with the HOH disability to control when, how, and to what degree they use it for amplification in public or at home, and it can be used in addition to hearing aides or cochlear implants. The tool I refer to is a Parabolic Dish Handheld Directional Listening Device or “Bionic Ear.”

You may have seen it in a toy store as kids “spy” equipment, or in a hunting store somewhere. These devices vary greatly in quality and durability. On close examination it appears they are made by just one or two manufacturers in China, and sold under several brands with somewhat different features. Many are cheap junk, but one or two are moderately-priced, durable, and VERY HELPFUL ed tech products that give HOH persons more personalized, adjustable hearing access, while reducing some of the distracting background noise, and allowing one to record vocal and other sounds for use and review later on (12 sec. internal capacity, or connectable to an external recording device for added recording time). This feature is great for educational environments where the student may also need more repetitions or extra time to process the information heard.

We tested five models. One worked as desired, two were fairly good, and 2 were not. All come in three pieces and are easy to assemble and de-construct to transport (i.e., a gun, a dish, and headphones; no tools required). All use a 9-volt battery (not included) which needs a philips screwdriver to install (not included); we liked ones with a snap-on battery terminal and compartment with easy to use screw and cap; while others have internal battery terminals, and difficult or non-working battery compartment lids. The better ones have volume/frequency control knobs that works smoothly, a set of record/play buttons, and a visual mono-scope (I can still lip-read!). Headphones are a big feature of the devices, so they must be comfortable, clear in tone, and head-size adjustable. The units that had very cheap or unusable headphones included we didn’t like. Our testers preferred one model:

  1. UZI Observation Device (UZI-OD-1) works great, nice headphones, on/off trigger, 8X monocular, frequency and volume controls, up to 300′ range (less with background noise), easy single-button record and playback features. Durable, can be used in all environments and conditions, water resistant, long battery life, safe, light-weight; The One We Recommend!
  2. Hausbell Scientific Explorer Bionic Ear (no model number; “plain Jane” box) works good but has less functional range, comfortable, single-adjustment headphones, monocular (unknown zoom), volume control, 150-200′ range, record and playback features, sensitive to moisture, a good second choice.
  3. SUMA; a medium to short range Bionic ear alternative, acceptable headphones, shipping time was very long (over 2 weeks for standard, others arrived in 8-10 days), and slightly more expensive for the same mid-range quality as Hausbell.
  4. Educational Insights Geosafari Sonic Sleuth poor quality, no features, battery compartment not functional, very cheap headphones.
  5. Scientific Explorer Bionic Ear Electronic Listening Device also poorly made, broke within an hour of use, problems with the battery compartment, poor quality microphone and headphones.

The only feature none of these models included that we like in our “better listening kit,” is a large Rubber Band, and an extra battery (and small screwdriver). All units tested had an on/off “trigger” switch, which must be held down with the finger continuously while the unit is in use. Holding the trigger for extended periods of time is not fun. Try using a large rubber band (seen in above photo), adjust it over the trigger for longer periods of use (may shorten battery life). Use the plastic ‘feet’ on the parabolic dish to stand or rest the device on an object or table. So far, we’ve had many happy hours in the park at free concerts, community gatherings, classes, and other places where previously this HOH person wouldn’t have been able to hear, across a distance with people around. But now I hear acceptably in many more places just by aiming the parabolic device directly towards the person I am listening to. Now I can feel at ease and in control at  many activities I used to avoid attending because of the uncertainty and isolation of being HOH.

If you give this device a try please let us know what you think! Remember to look for this and other useful ed tech under “products” on our website at: www.enablethem.com

 

Experience is the Hardest Teacher…

Experience is the hardest Teacher, she gives the test first, followed by the lessons.”

Life takes us to unexpected places. Families with children having Autism and other challenges that affect their communication abilities are overwhelmed by the experience of coping with and caring for their child. Sometimes the lessons that help families cope and make sense of the world come after the hardest imaginable experiences. Stress and worries over “running away,” “acting out,” and other “challenging conditions, behaviors, and reactions,” to name just a few, occur daily. The normal cognitive function and the adaptive mechanisms of the person don’t develop in average or recognizable ways, and behaviors are frequently uncontrollable, persevering way beyond parent and love ones abilities to cope. Inclusion of people with Autism in the family circle creates real tensions and new dynamics in the family’s relationships, which there are few blueprints for working with.

Through loving, learning, the greatest patience imaginable, and by reaching out to experts and other coping families, caregivers can get the feedback and methods they need to begin communicating with and teaching the non-verbal person. Slowly each problem of development and growing up can be addressed. Fortunately, we now also have individualized technology solutions to help with many of these challenges. “ED TECH” is a term often used to refer to digital tools that can help and assist the person with disabilities (and others) meet and engage in a fulfilling life. Start by making a list of what you really want from educational technologies, because the number of devices, services, and applications (software) on the market is rapidly growing. Actually, the personal health care and the learning technologies innovations in the consumer electronics market is one of the fastest growing new business areas in the economy today.

Although scads of new and incredible products are now becoming available to us, many of these items are not yet well tested, tried, or rated by the consumers they are intended for. It’s not like we can just hand a new item to our non-verbal child and say, “Try this out and tell me what you think.” That leaves teachers, parents, and caregivers to choose edtech digital tools that they think will best help students meet their goals, while trying to address that person’s true functional levels, and hopefully getting some useful “bridges” that help address the gaps in knowledge and access to the world the person has. My blog will turn some attention to helping parents find more knowledge answers to What new EdTech is available and How can I integrate it consistently with current neuroscience research.

What kind of goals can edtech help individuals and families address?

  • Closing gaps in functional and academic areas (Reading, Writing, Math, CCSS)
  • Practicing skills to improve self-confidence and mastery (Reading, Writing, Social)
  • Enrichment (Art, Music, Video, Games, Interactive Programs, Communication skills)
  • Transitions and Independence (Orientation, Communication, Independence, Career and Post-Secondary Educational opportunities, Tracking/GPS)
  • Strengthening Nueropathways, Executive Function, Analytical Thinking, and Autonomous Learning skills
  • Ed Tech can help the child with disabilities, but also the adult and senior family member to maintain their independence and community connections.

What are the most important qualities and characteristics of edtech products?

  • Consistent and User-friend functioning for the stated purpose. When a product or app fails to perform as promised, or will not perform the same way multiple times, it becomes frustrating and breeds a negative CX (customer experience).
  • User Buy-In activates the brain’s inward motivation and competition systems. The user must enjoy the overall experience even as it is challenging them to improve.
  • Joy and enthusiasm are essential for learning.” Or Mary Poppin’s would say, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Personal motivation is key to why game-based learning is so successful with kids.Game-based learning appeals to tech savvy learners.
  • Individualized opportunity to participate. Digital learning can be engaging because it is offers personal control and choice. Students do not necessary succeed in mastery in a straight line of learning. Achieving challenges engaged in over time and through personal choices is highly motivating.
  • Intrinsic (internally originating) challenges, when overcoming personalized challenges leads the student to a highly energizing, and completely satisfying dose of brain chemicals (dopamine) which naturally lead students to better performance, more motivation, pleasure, perseverance, improved attention, memory, and cognitive ability!
  • Products that provide Feedback and plots Progress of the student in understandable ways. Feedback and progress mapping improves the students ability to focus and sustain practice to master challenges. Feedback teaches and enforces perseverance and mega-thinking (seeing patterns in problems).

One of the most worrisome problems for the family with a member with Autism is the frequent “run away” event (many times combined with losing clothes and possessions). In the next few blogs I will be posting my experiences using different personal tracking devices to find a lost person. The electronic devices we will review are meant to address the issue of a person getting lost; by accident or on purpose. We will look closely at products that are currently available on the market; their pros and cons. Stay tuned; like or subscribe to our blog site, and-

Remember to visit our website at www.enablethem.com

Ref: Willis, Judy (2016) “Matching edtech products with neurological learning goals,” Edutopia.org/blog

CX = ED*

A lot has been written and said over the last 100 years regarding what is the meaning and function of education in a modern person’s life. Is it simply functional (to make money; hold a job; be academically, socially, and professionally appropriate) or is it enrichment (to engage, inspire, elevate self-worth and human compassions over the breadth of the life span), or is society’s academic fulfillment (the advancement of society through scientific and intellectual discovery and growth) the real function of education?

Education has been called an economic investment, a path to the future, and an asset to industry and national security. Education has been task with many solutions to various problems, but in the 21st century I think education is essentially just a CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE (CX). Educators must attend to the student’s experiences to be successful!

Education once consisted of the “3-R’s,” that was Reading, Writing, and ‘Rithmatic. These essential skills then became the foundation of all later knowledge and the organizing structure for most of what one knew. But now the world seems to have changed and expanded in its dimension and speed since simpler times. With more and faster changes, our ideas of what education needs to be in the primary and secondary years has grown and become more complicated as well. Today’s public schooling requirements have become so overwhelming and disconnected-from-reality for many people that by the time one reaches their high school years, almost half of all students will choose to abandon traditional education and simply drop out of school; eventually perhaps acquiring a GED over a diploma. Whether it benefits them or not, modern students simply don’t “like” going to school.

Education is changing. Technologies such as fast computers, touch screens, interactive technologies, the internet, have changed everything. I got a science undergrad degree in the 1980’s and we did research, but our data was created by hand and analyzed manually on big paper spreadsheets. The human mind was the main computational device then. I never learned anything about “coding,” or programming. Today, many 3rd graders use Excel to collect and analysis data in class, and then write code for math class. They routinely use research skills I was not even exposed to until college, and are using many different technology tools like “natives.” So education has changed drastically in just a few years, and the needs and choices of our students have grown exponentially too.

Today, students require “buy-in” and ownership of their learning choices and methods to be successful in school. To  be educated for the future, students need to learn in ways that have been mostly overlooked by traditional educators. Today’s students are masterful consumers of electronics, media, social media, free resources, expert opinions and reviews; as well as being regularly exposed to the worst in scams, marketing, and con artists! Today’s students are much more than passive participants. The are psychologically primed to engage in reality in many different forms; physical, virtual, visual, auditory, kinesthetic, social, and individually personalized.

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Consider, that students must be personally engaged and interested in something to benefit by it. They clearly gain more from the experience if they are relaxed and having fun. Today’s students are better “risk-takers” to new learning when they feel safe and at ease in their environment, and when they are given many more choices along the learning path. Consider that most students are highly engaged in many social activities by age 5, and most between age 8 and 18 learn more effectively from their peers.

Education today requires more flexibility and individual choices than ever before; it requires teachers and schools to provide up-to-date materials, technology, and classroom environments for success, it requires integration of assistive technology, and reduction in standardized tests. Students today need accurate and timely feedback and assessments to learn from mistakes can help them address mastery and correct their know-how. Students today need discussions, not lectures; they need hands-on projects, not textbook quizzes; they need integration of team work into their daily schedule, not homework. Children don’t require enforcers, they do require fair consequences and many second chances.

More than ever before in history, education and educators can help students have empowered lives by building and strengthening their personal paths to autonomous learning, and by recognizing that each learners’ path is unique, diverse, not-often-straight, and vitally important to us all.

*The Customer’s Experience in the Educational Environment is Paramount to Learning

Remember to visit my site at www.enablethem.com

Inner Life of Behaviors

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My parents were not overly educated. Neither finished high school actually, but that did not prevent them from having a full measure and graduate level understanding of human behaviors. The code of the day, when I was a young child in the 1960’s was still “Spare the rod; spoil the child,” and “Children should be seen and not heard [from].”

It certainly never occurred to my parental unit that a day would ever come when children and their behaviors ruled a household, or determined the decisions (socially, emotionally, and financially) that had to be made by the heads of their household. At the same time, my father deeply understood children and adult inner motivations, and was my first teacher in the art of personal empowerment, choice making, and consequences. He effortlessly created a rich and rewarding real-life learning environment for his children which included hands-on involvement with the world, travel, questioning the facts and the opinions of others, research, and thinking for oneself. It is not what I learned that mattered to him, as long as I was keenly interested in something and trying to understand it from all sides and angles. I often had far reaching goals and dreams in my youth and my parents always let me know they believed in my ability to carve out any destiny I chose. They didn’t make me believe it would always be easy and they didn’t mask the possibility of failures along the way. But they believed in “getting back on the horse” when you’ve been thrown, and they frequently picked me up, dusted me off, and sent me back to the ring to try again, whatever the risk or possibility of failure might be. They did not protect me from making mistakes, even when they advised me fore or against any course of action.They accepted I had decisions to make, and that I must live with them.

From this early experience of “getting down and dirty” with life and my chosen paths, I have built a praxis in teaching, and in understanding the needs of the modern young person. I have practiced and participated in the learning and teaching experience over the past 4 decades and I now consider myself somewhat of an expert.:) But I also realize in each exhale how much more I have to learn. Currently I live with several disabilities of my own, including auditory and visual, but I do not consider them disabilities because living with these challenges has help prepare me to work with students with disabilities. I currently teach children  with severe learning disabilities, Autism, and non-verbal students in K-12 and adult learners. My students often represent the hardest group to serve. But because of many years and different situations of teaching practice I am prepared and pleased to be teaching my kids.

My last four years I have spent leading public school functional life skills classrooms in three states and I have learned from research and practice the key components of reasoning behind student misbehaviors and bad habits. Because I have really not found this information shared elsewhere, I am writing a blog that will focus on explaining my findings regarding instruction, classroom environmental design, UDL curriculum design, Common Core adaptations, and what is (wrongly) called “classroom management” skills to help other teachers and parents find meaning to their pressing questions in regards to special needs and unique learning students.

Many of my experiences- and research- driven practices will surprise some of you. Others will exclaim, “It’s about time someone used their common sense!” Whatever your reaction to my commitment to turning all education, especially Special Education, into an experience that is student-centered, -driven, -assessed, and which empowers students to choose and follow their own self-constructed paths to success, I hope that you will share it with me. Cheers! Remember to visit my site www.enablethem.com!

Zen and the Art of the Classroom Teacher

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1942 Young people who would become my ancestors and first teachers. Note the big smiles before have children and careers!

The first teachers are our parents. We are all “home schooled” by accident and on purpose; learning to observe and adapt to visual, auditory, tactile, emotional, physical, and kinesthetic lessons that shape our lives and characters. “Nature or nurture?” is the question that cannot be fully answered, only balanced against the fires of experiences that shape each of us. Elements of perseverence and compassion, personal opinions and choices continually shaping our development and swaying the directions of our paths into life.  Like a tree branch or root system, we are always growing, extending, seeking, recoiling, and readjusting the path.

Our teachers throughout life make remarkable Impacts onto our lives and the future of ourselves, our children, our whole world. Our teachers shape and groom the face of society, culture, and the future by the words they utter, the things they do, and don’t do while we are with them.

The blog posts that follow are the reflections and lessons of a life well lived for over 5 decades, and of the wisdoms gained by teaching for over 3 decades. The teaching praxis reflected on follows the concepts of a common-core enriched, project-based, art and music infused, hands-on, autonomous learning style with students inside and outside of public schools, home schools, charter schools, and innovative start-up schools from 1981 to the present. Starting out as a reluctant school teacher, pursuing the life of an artist, non-profit leader, energy conservation guru, teaching-artist, science teacher, math tutor, sculptor, weaver, writer, researcher and parent has rounded my view point of what learning means.

The blog will pursue the theme “What it Means to be a Great Teacher,” and more importantly why. Teaching is not a career pathway for the “faint of heart.” Indeed, teaching requires deep insight into your own personal struggle to find meaningful work, and education. Teaching means growing a thick skin in order to endure both an unappreciative student body and family brand. Teaching means countless little losses of face, and a few giant leaps of faith. Teaching means investing in a future you may never witness. Teaching implies you always smile, you never give up, and as Loren Green taught us in a Bonanza TV show in 1951;

I don’t have anything against education, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of your thinking.

Remember to visit my site www.enablethem.com!