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.