Saturday, April 19, 2008

Transitions without Motivation

Since this is a Saturday post and I will be at the Oregon Coast, I thought I would leave you with a thought on education and transitioning kids and adults with assistive technology.

I have always looked at the motivation factor when looking at success or failure of lessons and units I develop. During my initial teaching years I worked hard at the pedagogy of designing curriculum, the anticipatory set or introduction you gave to the lesson and whether or not you established a real-life connection to students and gave them a reason to learn the content.

Yesterday I was visiting with my sister who is the main family care-giver to our aunt. My aunt has had to move from a small home in a senior living community to a small apartment within the community with more care. She had a stroke, has hand tremors and memory loss. She was a media specialist and librarian in the Salem Oregon Public Schools for years and was always into computers. In her younger years, she was the one with all the new gadgets at our family dinners. I credit a lot of my desire to teach and my love of technology to her example growing up. My sister and I were talking about me helping her access her computer through AT, but the motivation factor isn't there. She has lost all desire to connect with her world because she is losing her independence and would rather die.
I will be doing an AT evaluation on a high school boy soon that is going through a similar situation, except he is losing fine motor, speech and is classified as terminal. He needs support to maintain his quality of life as long as possible. Over the summer, access to computer games and the Internet will be a big piece of his entertainment as he is home all day.
So there are similarities here, but at opposite ends of the age spectrum. When it comes to transitioning students or senior adults into assistive technology support, it doesn't matter the age. Grief and depression have to be dealt with and addressed where folks are losing independence. It takes a great deal of empathy and patience on our part in helping them to adapt.

As an AT specialist I can be looked at as the bad guy coming to force folks to do something they don't want to do - but the reality is that the process of implementation is forcing them to come to grips with their grief and have to let go of it to move on. Grief can be a security blanket and it is no fun being the one that has to take it away. I see the AT as a way to exchange blankets and give a healthier one to hold onto.
One of my goals is to help the individual overcome the desire to just curl up and die. I look at the interests of the individual and try to help them see what is possible. Moving in small access steps to gain a sense of independence is a huge factor. We all have an inner desire to fight for survival and freedom. If I can tap that tinder and spark it to flame, there might be a chance to implement, but it all comes back to that motivation factor. My teaching years, keeping young sixth graders engaged and learning is paying off these days in situations I am facing.

If you have some techniques that have proven successful, I'm sure we would love to hear from you. I would encourage you to post a comment sharing with us what you have done to help others overcome, or how you personally overcame.

I am posting this as a Saturday post even though it is Friday. I will be gone this weekend and can't guarantee I will be where I can post anything. I haven't figured out the auto-post process yet. I know there is a way to do it. I read a tutorial on using an auto-responder and sending the blog post to the blogger email address to post. If you know more on that, I would love to hear! Have a great weekend!

All the best to you!


1 comment:

narrator said...

This touched me. I meet so many children who have given up. Of course they have been taught to give up, by their teachers, by their parents, by their communities. And they have been taught to hide their aspirations from the sight of others, less they be ridiculed for them.

I often find that the very first thing is to enable them to tell their stories. At first even if it is only to me. "Tell me about what you do when no one else knows." "Tell me how you do that?" And I can listen without judgment, because understanding that your stories matter is the first step to understanding that you matter.

So, I tend to think that writing should come first, before I work too hard to enable reading, I'll struggle to enable writing. That's the opposite of what school wants, but reading - as school would have it - is all about information flowing from school to student. I want to first turn on the student voice.

Besides, once they can write - via audacity or speech recognition, they can hear their own words, and then they can become interested in comparing their words to the words of others, and that means that they are beginning to have an interest in reading.

Step-by-step, building a reason to live, a reason to engage the world, a reason to put the effort in.