Learning Specialist, Franklin Academy
Sara went to Syracuse University to get her undergraduate degree in secondary science education. While teaching, she realized how many students with disabilities were flying under the radar and not receiving the air that they needed from teachers. She decided to attend Southern Connecticut State University to get her Master’s in special education with a concentration in assistive technology.
At least three times a week I hear one of my students say “I can’t do this, I’m autistic.”
This is really frustrating, not because I just want them to do what I’m asking (though, that would be nice), but because I hate that they think that their diagnosis is so limiting. They are stunted by thinking only about a worst case scenario, instead of all of the possibilities that exist for them. I have tried many strategies to reframe their perspective. We’ve implemented growth mindset vocabulary into every class, shown them work from the start of the year and now to reflect on improvement, and more. It works for some students for a little bit, but they quickly go back to the “I’m autistic” mindset.
There was one day where multiple students in each of my classes blamed their autism on everything they did (or didn’t do). At my wits end, I turned to social-emotional learning curriculum from Kiddom’s library of teaching resources.
I was searching for something about how to effectively teach students how to cope with things with which they struggle. I came across a TedEd lesson, “The world needs all kinds of minds,” without noticing the author. This sounded perfect, but I was nervous how my students would react to some random person, who was probably neurotypical, telling them that their differences were beneficial in the world. I clicked on it anyway, and Temple Grandinstarted speaking.
As soon as the video started, I knew we had to watch it. My hope was that if parents, teachers and others couldn’t get through to them, maybe someone with the same diagnosis would have better luck. I was right. I have rarely seen my students so engaged. They stayed off of their cell phones, asked questions, and laughed at every joke Grandin made. After the video, we had a discussion about the ideas brought forth in the video and used the questions from the lesson we found on Kiddom. They were then to write about how Temple Grandin made them feel.
It was incredible. Their responses included:
“It was awesome seeing someone like me up on stage”
“If you think you’re gonna succeed you will succeed”
“Made me feel like I could do anything”
Seeing these kinds of comments coming from students who normally struggle to feel empowered was incredible.
It’s nice to see education technology companies like Kiddom integrate social emotional learning resources into their library of free resources. And it’s great to be able to access resources like this directly from the tool I already use to monitor class progress.