Friday, October 21, 2011

Why I'm Like My Students

Don't get me wrong, I love my students. And I have the most respect and compassion for them. So this post, in no way, is written to make fun of them or take their disability lightly.

Through dealing with chronic migraines, I have realized that I share lots of similarities with my students.

  • Having to work at social skills. Lots of times I don't feel well and my husband tells me it looks like I'm pissed off. But I'm not. I don't think I do a good job of trying to hide it, because I'm not aware of how my facial expression is coming off. I don't feel mad, I feel like my head hurts real bad. 
  • I heard you, but it did not process in my brain. I cannot describe this embarrassing reality to you, but it's a harsh truth that comes with the bad headaches. 
  • I need visual supports. I went to a drumming continuing education course, and the instructor was giving a rhythm for us to play. It was somewhat complex, but nothing more than I have done in the past in my musical training. But I Could. Not. Get. It. Seriously. I was watching his hands, and hearing his mouth say the rhythm, and I knew I had the ability, but it was not working. I felt like if I could read the rhythm, and slow it down without everyone else playing, maybe it would work. It was an incredibly frustrating experience. And at that moment, it gave me a tiny glimpse into what emotions my students might feel. I don't know if they ever feel like that. But it made me realize the importance of giving them all the supports they needed (and as a professional, made me realize how important visual and auditory cues are).
  • You want life to go how you want it, but sometimes it just can't. Last week I was in a high school classroom for students with cognitive disabilities. We had done some great things through music, attention training, social skills, choice-making. So when a student started singing "He's Got the Whole World..." I placated him (and the staff) and sang it along with him. It might have made his day. But, you see, Miss Caylyn does not know all of the verses to this song. Or at least not all of the verses that another student with autism did. I ended the song, and this other student became anxious and upset because not all of the verses had been sung. So, he continued to sing the last verse himself. Which you know, maybe that's not so bad when I think about it. I could turn that into my last point....
  • You gotta do what you gotta do for yourself. That student has a history of needing to be in control and getting upset when things don't go his way. But, he was fine when he sang the last verse himself. Others probably think I'm crazy or don't understand my invisible illness when I need to advocate for my needs. But that's okay. Because that's what I have to do for myself.

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