Thursday, September 5, 2013

What is Normal?

normalWhat is normal? Who gets to decide?

I’ve heard this saying on a few podcasts lately and I don’t know who the creator was, but here it is:
"Normal is just a setting a washing machine."

That saying has been going around and around in my head and I’m loving it!

As a teacher of students with special needs, I have seen a lot of children feel as if they were not normal because they were different. They see normal as fitting in, being like everyone else, and not standing out as different. These students want to be “normal.”

Some teachers see a lot of students as normal in the same way. They want all of their students to fit in with what they expect. They want all students to take the same tests and succeed in the same way. They want all of their students to behave in the same cookie cutter fashion and if they don’t, then they see these students as not being normal.

I think I would do a major disservice to my students if I expect them to be “normal” and just like everyone else. I want to honor their uniqueness and help them be proud of their differences.

If they don’t learn like everyone else, I want them to feel that is okay as long as we figure out a way for them to learn that fits them. I have to help them find the learning style that works for them and encourage them to use this so they can get the most out of learning. Instead of trying to fit them in a mold, I need to give them tools to use because they don’t fit in a mold.

If they don’t show how they understand and can apply their learning the way others do, that is okay too. As long as they are able in some way to show me that they understand and can apply what they have learned. I need to give them opportunities to show me how they do this.

I need to stop trying to make all of my students normal and respect them for who they are.
I need to remember that normal is just a setting on a washing machine.

How do you help your students feel comfortable in their uniqueness? Please share.

Image: 'There's Always One'
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1 comment:

Sioux Roslawski said...

Wow, Pat, that's a hard answer to pin down. Connect with who they are...respect if they're not "touchy-feely" kinds of willing to laugh at what they think is funny...validate their experiences through celebrating their writing and their efforts...