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!