Ashley Hall's Professional Education Portfolio

K-12 Certified Music Educator

Habits of Mind, #3 Perspective-takers

Albion College Education Department’s, “Habits of Mind,”

3. Perspective-takers: Seeking out, valuing, and incorporating different viewpoints and positions about learners, learning, teaching and subject matter.

In my “Literacy Pedagogy in the Secondary School” course, our class took the novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon and designed individual lesson plans based on grouping of 2-3 chapters. Since this lesson plan was a culmination of everything we had learning about teaching reading in this semester, each student was responsible for designing a lesson plan that identified the relevant themes and ideas of their particular grouping of chapters, as well as incorporating pre and post-reading strategies, as well as an additional writing prompt.

For my lesson plan, I focused on three main points from chapters 53 and 59; the study and understanding of children and adults with high-function autism and Asperger’s syndrome, these children’s capabilities and limitations, and becoming familiar with the feelings and emotions that are normally association with the death/loss of a loved one. I included a pre-reading strategy of a brainstorming diagram of the word “high-function autism” and a post-reading strategy of a journal entry about the loss or death of a pet, family member, or friend.

It was during the construction of this lesson plan that I started to become more aware of the disability that the main character in the novel, Christopher, was plagued with and what it meant to how he learns and retains new material. Though it is never actually stated in the novel, it is assumed that Christopher has some sort of high-function autism or Asperger’s Syndrome, both of which are brain-disorders that hinder the child’s social capabilities and communication. In taking the time to study these disorders and become more familiar with their symptoms, I found I would be better suited to handle Christopher and meet his needs in my classroom, whatever those may be.

After all the students in our course had the opportunity to teach their lessons from the novel, we were asked to write a short paper on how, if Christopher were in our classrooms, we would work to provide for his needs in the way we laid out our classroom, taught our lessons, and utilized are subject area to meet Christopher’s strengths and used scaffolding for his weaknesses. Being a music educator, I looked at the situation as if I were a music teacher in a band ensemble classroom and Christopher one of my musicians. I started the paper first by going back to the novel and looking at what things Christopher was good at, such as numbers, math, and literal interpretation, and what things bothered him, such as screaming/loud noises, atmospheric settings, and spacial changes.

In understanding what bothers Christopher, I can better address as many of his needs as possible. For example, Christopher doesn’t like the colors yellow and brown. I can do my best of keep these colors out of my classroom with the materials that I use or in the posters and banners that adorn my walls. Christopher also doesn’t adapt well to the change of a room’s setting, such as where the chairs and tables are placed – if I were going to change around the spacial settings in my room (which is a common-place occurrence in the music classroom), I would make sure the notify Christopher first and ask him that would be okay with him. By giving Christopher a voice and an opinion in the matter, Christopher is empowered with the ability to think, reflection, and come to a conclusion of his own devising.

All of these things, though small when considering the more adamant needs of a classroom and the teaching of a content area, all make a profound difference to a student with special needs. Whatever an educator can do, no matter how small, to help their students be successful in their classroom should be done.

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