February 1, 2012

Teacher Needed: Flexibility a MUST!

"Let no one think that flexibility and a predisposition to compromise is a sign of weakness or a sell-out."  - Paul Kagame

Photo courtesy of Cirque Du Soleil

Flexibility is the name of the game in teaching, and even more so when teaching those with Special Needs.

You just never know how the class is going to go, or what may arise during class time, so it's always important to be ready and accepting of any and everything.

Class #2 started off uncommonly quite with only two of my three students.  We started drawing figures of our cameras and labeling the parts we use and were going to focus on.

My third student came in late, they had gotten lost on the way to class.

For a typical student, this is stressful.  For an Autistic student, it raises anxiety even more so.

My student also mentioned that it was finals week at their high school, and that they had a doctors appointment that day as well.

I knew all of these stressors combined was hard for my student to deal with at a time when we were supposed to be quietly concentrating on drawing, so we quickly finished up the drawing activity.

I had planned on having the students photograph the small vignettes I had set up using both a "zoom in" and a "zoom out", so we could discuss the difference.  I then wanted to show the pictures each had taken and have the students discuss and point out which were "zoom in" pictures and which pictures were "zoom out" pictures.

Ideally, I wanted to then go on and introduce different angels to the students, and then prep them for the following week when we were planning on doing scenic shots.

All of this proved to be too much for my students that day, and that was alright.

We completed the main tasks I had prepared for, but not in the detail I had originally planned.

Some student pictures:

Planning for a class of differing abilities and behaviors can be very challenging, but paying attention to your students needs is the most important.

I knew if I pushed all that I wanted to accomplish that day on my students, they would have left feeling anxious and stressed, and the class most likely would have been a disaster.  Instead I scaled back my plans and adapted them to their needs.

The truth is: I don't run the class, my students do.

I mean yes, technically I make the plans and teach the lessons and overlook all that happens in class.

However, my students are really the ones teaching me about their needs and how to interact with them in ways that will most benefit them.

My job is to listen to them, pick up on their cues, and change my plans accordingly.

We will get to scenic photos and angles in the following weeks.  It may take longer to get thru then I have planned, but we will get there.

The important thing is we will get there... as a class... in their time.

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