Grant Career Center Teacher Academy students recently traveled with instructor Julie Crozier to Wright State University to participate in professional development activities at the 2013 Disability Workshop. Presented by the WSU Office of Disability Services and Department of Teacher Education, the workshop gave the students the opportunity to discuss a variety of disabilities and how to plan strategies in the classroom to enhance learning for all students.
The first part of the workshop included round table discussions led by Wright State University students. The college students spoke about the challenges they had faced as they moved through the schooling process with disabilities, and about various measures Wright State has made to accommodate students with disabilities. The Teacher Academy students then asked questions about implementing learning strategies to help students with disabilities in their future classrooms. Other round table presenters included professionals who created Braille textbooks, served as interpreters, or provided other needed support services to students with disabilities.
The students left the first seminar with a new appreciation for all types of students. Caley Pringle, a senior from Williamsburg High School, discovered that her table presenter changed her perception of normal. “Megan showed me that being different is the new norm in her world.” Lindsey Smith, a senior from Bethel-Tate, was also touched by the students in her group. “The student presenters made me think about all the simple things I take for granted and how I will be aware of those things in my classroom.”
The students then participated in a seminar entitled “Choose a Disability.” In this activity, the moderator asked the audience, “If you had to choose a disability, would you prefer to be diagnosed with blindness, quadriplegia, cerebral palsy, or a developmental disability?” The students discussed of the pros and cons of each disability, and shared their reasons for choosing a particular disability. The students all used great reasoning skills as they discussed what was most important in their life and what disabilities they felt they could best overcome.
The day brought great understanding to the students about disabilities and their abilities as educators to enhance learning the experience for all students in their care. Bethel-Tate senior Anna Weigand was very inspired by the workshop. “I am very thankful that I was able to take advantage of this opportunity. I did not expect to see such positive attitudes and good out looks on life from students with severe disabilities. It made me see the world with a new set of eyes.”