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Here's Part II of my blogposts for promoting fairness and decency in educational settings:
It’s one to thing to raise the bar on students so they can achieve goals beyond their present levels of accomplishments. It’s a whole ‘nuther thing to humiliate people with unrealistic demands for change - or to tolerate intimidating or humiliating behavior from colleagues and other students.
Let’s get started with a far better way of looking at life for all concerned. Decide to appreciate students for their intrinsic worth, accomplishments, goals and personalities. You’re the teacher or fellow student. Let the opportunity to prove one’s worth proceed with a cheerful spirit.
Ages and Abilities"
1. Introduce yourself to students of all abilities as you would in most pleasant social situations. Discuss what you have in common and individual interests. Mention that you're willing to be helpful to the person if possible, and take things from there.
2. When you see people in wheelchairs gathered together, simply smile as you walk by or make a pleasant remark as you might when you see people standing around together.
3. See and imagine life from the perspective of the person managing with their limitations. Understand what they need for quality of life. Offer your input and assistance as graciously as you can.
4. Play games such as mentioning favorite songs, TV shows, activities, memories etc. and even games that disabled students enjoy as much as everyone else involved! If hearing- or vision-impaired students or students with any disability are part of the mix, use all-inclusive activities. How? Initiate a group discussion in which students can suggest ideas that work!
5. Modulate your tone of voice and use a clear pronunciation in your conversation only if it will facilitate better communication. Speak directly to and with the disabled student. Use empowering words and their correct name or personal title as in “I’m delighted to meet you Dr./Ms./Mr./Mrs. So-and-so…”
6. Be attentive to advocates for the student and to the student him/herself who needs adaptive techniques and technologies. They know best what’s necessary. Promote the optimal use of class materials and watch the wonder of new ideas and interactions come to joyous life.
7. Choose to be flexible with requested changes and accommodations.
8. Respect boundaries. People do have private lives and you’re not necessarily entitled to know more than the student cares to share with you.
9. Adapt to your new worldview. Put a pleasant expression on your face. Practice until it becomes a habit. You won’t find yourself staring, expressing discomfort or anything socially inappropriate when you’re a habitual smiler.
10. Develop your sense of humor. When a disabled student is in a lousy mood now and then, just accept it. Moods tend to improve, especially when you don’t focus on them. Students with disabilities have angry, sad, or otherwise "off" days as normally as everyone else. Let personalities shine through. Limbs, appliances and moving at different rates of speed have nothing to do with insight, joi de vivre and intellect. Be real, be human and be patient. We’re all works in progress. Even if we seem to have taken a break from the job at times ;^ D
Share Your Ideas with the White House!
White House staff who address disability-related policies host monthly public, live-captioned conference calls for better informing the American public of developments regarding disability issues. Your input is invited. Share your ideas about subjects for discussion and point out the federal officials you’d like to hear from on these topic. See https://www.disability.gov/WHQuestion
Let me know your thoughts on this 2-part series. We can continue it in the effort to educate the public at large.
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