Thinking Differently

Temple Grandin’s TED talk about people on the Autism Spectrum and thinking about how others think definately relates to us as future special education teachers.

I think she brings up a lot of good points about making sure that we realize that not everyone thinks in the same way.  I think that is what the UDL is all about, it’s allowing access to curriculum through different channels so that people who do think differently are still learning. I believe that the best way to reach students is by recognizing the way they think compared to the way you at the teacher think. It’s so important to remember not everyone sees the world through the same lenses.  That is the real challenge in teaching is trying to figure out what your student’s lenses look like and how to help your students see through them.

I have also read her book, Thinking in Pictures, and the depth she went into about how she saw the world really made me stop and look back at my own thinking.  We don’t spend a lot of time thinking about thinking because it’s difficult to do but it is necessary.  If we can help our students use metacognition to think about their thinking and find a way for them to explain it to us just as Ms. Grandin did then that would help tremendously.  Unfortunately that’s pretty hard to do so it is up to us as the teachers to try and find what works best for the student.

Differentiation is all about designing learning for the student, it’s important in all classrooms but especially in a special education classroom.  Unfortunately, special education has a negative connotation but to me a special education students is just as smart as a general education student but they learn in a different way.  This is where differentiation can come in.  By capitalizing on what the student is good at  they can learn just as well!  As she mentioned in the TEDtalk some of the most brilliant people in the world were autistic, we need people who have have specialized thinking so as teachers we may need to use more specialized teaching.  That shouldn’t be seen as something negative, just something different.  As a special education teacher we need to be ready to have students like Temple Grandin and like the boy mentioned in this article.  We need to build on their strengths and give them opportunities to thrive.  Instead of writing a paper on a topic in history, can they write about a specific invention or theory and how that relates to history?  As mentioned in the TED talk, it’s all about sparking an interest in these children, does it matter if they do everything the exact same way everyone else in the school is doing things.  That makes it more complicated for teachers to grade students, and to handle the issue of fairness between students, but school should be about allowing all students the best access learning.

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