Thursday, May 10, 2012

Wk 2 Reading - Art of Possibility Chp. 1-4

In reading the first four chapter of The Art of Possibility by Roz and Ben Zander I found myself thinking about my own life, with family, and my teaching environment. I also found the Ted video with Zander  very enlightening because I saw my life through him. 
The Piano video as I watched it made me feel that wam fuzzy feeling inside, because both of my children took piano for a number of year. The stages of development  where  right on as I reflected on my own children learning the piano. My children are grown up now, daughter who is a teacher, and son who is graduating at the end of this month. Each of them showed the "normal" stages a student goes through, and I think those growing steps took place later in their lives too. Each of my children played a second instrument, flute and french horn. The stages of learning took place again, only faster I think. It became clear to that Zander was allowing students to find their own way along the learning path. Allowing students to do this allows them to grow at their own pace and therefore feel successful. 
The Art of Possibility really made me think of my teaching environment with special needs students. Chapter one talks about it all being invented. There are many assumptions that come up when people look at a class of special needs students. One of those would be how can they succeed in life, aren't they destined not to? I always assume that my students will succeed at something, even though it may not be what society thinks that should be. There really is not a set curriculum that I use to teach LIFE SKILLS to my students. That very thing really offeres up a lot of opportunities to teach students skills they need and can do as they become an adult with a disability. I am not just talking about a physical disability, but  cognitive delays as well.  This masters program and my action research project should give my students more choices to learn these LIFE SKILLS as they spend time with me as a student. 
I have mixed feelings about measuring my students. There really is no standardized way to do that, because each individual and each disability effects them differently. I can only go by what society considers to be "normal" and give my students the tools to perform tasks as close to what "normal" is. Society will just have to accept that my students are trying their best and that is all we can ask of them.  
Giving yourself an A  - I really found this to be a great concept and I think with "regular ed" students it could be a great tool. I personally always give me students an A as they start any new task or class. I really would not like to give grades at all, and just do a pass fail grading system. If a student participates and tries, then he/she is going to get an A. There is a time when getting an "A" for participating causes problems, and that is with siblings that do not have a disability. They are held up to different standards and sometimes have difficulty accepting that their sibling was earning and "A" but under different criteria. A pass/fail system would eliminate this issue. 
I hope I contribute to the success of my students every day. If I can help them live a more independent life at home, and then as an adult then I have done my job. The LIFE SKILLS I teach are they best contribution I can make to my students. The only other thing I would say is Patience,  to wait, to change, to adapt, to modify as we move on through their school life.


  1. I noticed to very important focuses in your response to this week's reading and it is the importance of family and your students. With regards to your family, I like how you could match up their progress in a way like that which was shared in the Zander video. They are each successful in their own way and have been afforded the opportunity to be themselves and follow their own path. The other thing that I noticed is your relation of the reading to your students. As a fellow educator too, I see how important it is to sometimes not go by the book and do what will work for the students and help them to learn and grow. I also get where you are coming from with in terms of assigning letter grades and the like when it doesn't fit your situation. I like the pass/fail choice too and then you can always add comments to provide further detail if needed.

    Good use of all CAPS to point out the type of students so those they may view the post know where you are coming from and don't have too many of those unclear perceptions. Also, I like the last sentence you wrote and came up with the following:

    C.A.M.P. (change, adapt, modify for patience is key--in our schools and in our students)
    [I know this may not seem to clear but that is my little spin on it.]

  2. David,
    I agree that the giving an A concept could be a great tool in regular education classrooms. However, I think that it's most effective use would be in your situation. There are so many standards and expectations for elementary students that I don't think the giving an a concept would go over well. I'm not surprised to hear that you are already practicing the giving an A concept in your current environment. I'm surprised that you have to actually give a grade for all of your subjects. I can see where the frustration would come from. On paper you are studying the same thing but in the classroom a completely different set of lessons are being taught. A pass/fail systems seems like it would make more sense to me.... But what do I know. :-) I found it difficult to place some of his situations into my own curriculum practice because I've never taken music. I was in band and I would have loved the challenge of living up to the grade that has already been given to me. It is really cool that you could make a personal connection to your life and your children! One last thing, it is all invented. I believe that students with special needs can be able to do most of the same tasks when given the proper support. I know that is not always the case, but I do my best to never judge a book by its cover.
    Thanks for sharing!!

  3. Wonderful application and observations of how the reading addresses the needs and potential of your students. Life and learning is not a "one size fits all" proposition. Excellent work.