Knowledge and understanding of students with Autism will be very important to you as a teacher. How will you increase your knowledge of this disability?
I will keep reading about advances made on this disability. So many factors are not known about autism spectrum disorder. It will be interesting to see, for instance, if it will be discovered that autism is due to neurological damage or which areas in the brain are affected. This information could drastically affect therapy and the way teachers teach children with autism.
Share a personal experience that you have had working with a child with an exceptionality. On what do I need to focus on and perhaps improve? In what areas am I confused or need additional help?
In various educational situations, I have had experience in working with a child with Asperger’s and saw first hand what the child experienced. Fortunately, I was in a situation where the child’s needs were handled appropriately, and the teacher worked towards inclusion so that the child was not bullied or put down by the other children. The child was very sensitive to light and was miserable playing outside on a sunny day, so I had to make sure he was sitting in the shade. He was very fascinated with apples and would tell me all the different types of apples by name, where they grow, the colors, the flavors, the taste, etc. We used behavioral techniques to help him with social aspects such as eye contact and listening skills. Also, he was tested and was found to have deficits in reasoning and could not verbalize reasoning well, so we worked with him to increase those skills.
I think I need to keep learning about all the different spectrums of autism disorders. For instance, eliminating the diagnosis in the DSM-5 for Asperger’s is a recent development. I think I need to work on reading all the research that is available out there on the disorder, the most effective treatments for the disorder’s symptoms, and advances in research. I also want to learn all the techniques I can use in the classroom. I don’t think I’m particularly confused about the disorder in particular. I think I just need to keep reading and keep learning so I can feel like I’ve mastered all the material there is to know about autism spectrum disorders. I have a particular interest in Autism Spectrum disorders, and I plan on learning as much as I can about them.
What have I learned about teaching students at-risk for school failure?
It seems counterintuitive to think that students with high IQs and exceptional abilities are at risk for school failure. If they enter kindergarten and instead have the knowledge of a seventh-grader, unless the teacher and the school have a policy in place on how to handle exceptional learners while working to help them integrate socially the best they can, these children can suffer and be excluded from schools. Also, students who do not have high IQs but have difficulties at school because of other reasons, such as a tough home situation, poor nutrition because of limited economic means, and other reasons, are at risk for failure. It is important for teachers to help motivate each individual student to make lessons relevant to them. Teachers can do a lot to help build self-esteem in students, even when their home situation is not ideal.
What have I learned about teaching students who are English Learners?
I think teachers can be instrumental in helping children learning English as a second language. When a student is immersed in a different culture with a different language, learning the nuances of their new language can take a bit of time. There are many ways teachers can help in this situation. Creating styles that help student learning naturally and little stress can help students immensely. Also, creating situations where learning is reinforced on all levels (listening comprehension, speaking, visually, and writing) is helpful, as well as teachers taking measures to ensure verbal communications are clear and well annunciated.
On what do I need to focus on and perhaps improve?
I want to be sensitive to children where English is a second language and help them the best I can with developing the language skills necessary for future success in school. I recognize that these children, if encouraged to develop their language skills, will have great opportunities ahead of them. Bilingual skills are highly sought after in the job market. I feel I need to learn to help them develop seamlessly in the classroom.
After studying about students with exceptionalities, I feel passionate about . . .
I feel passionate about helping students come together to learn, despite their differences, and to create an environment where mutual respect is encouraged. I want to be able to encourage students to be accepting of one another and to be able to feel good about their own specialness, regardless of disabilities, special abilities, and other things that make children special in their own way.