Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Learning from the Experts

By Kristie Smith

          As a vision consultant in Mesquite ISD, I am always excited to see the products that I bring to the teachers being used correctly.  For example, yesterday I went into one of my favorite classrooms and watched the teachers using the light box and Swirly Mats in a sensory station, items from the “Let’s See Kit” dangling on the colorful rope for interactive play, and the teacher was wearing solid black placing the brightly colored yellow objects one-at-a-time in front of her black clothing.  She knew that the color black will help to eliminate visual clutter for our children with visual weaknesses.

 Needless to say, the children in this classroom are thriving!  I taught the teacher, Jackie Clayton’s daughter, Ashley when she was in the third grade and have always been a fan of the family, but now, I am learning from the experts.

 When one of my students continued to try and mouth a toy instead of using it correctly, Jackie spoke sweetly to her, helped her to squeeze the toys and began rubbing her forearms.  

 “When you massage the forearm, you are encouraging touch and tactile awareness,” the teacher taught the teacher. 

I watched as my vision student with limited vision, began releasing the toy from her mouth and began to tactually explore the item. 

As I looked around the room, I was beaming with pride as I saw the All-in-One-Board in place, blocks from the math kit on a child’s tray (we suggested brightly colored pink tape while placing the block on top of a black piece of cloth), the Sensory Kit’s pink vibrating pillow and many other items used in very creative ways. 

I teased Jackie and told her that when I come in to consult with her about vision it is like teaching Billy Graham the Bible verse John 3:16.

We laughed and agreed that it takes a village to observe each child and watch for their strengths and potential. As vision teachers, we approach all specialists for assistance in teaching our children to walk, talk, eat, etc. because 85% of what we learn is visual. 

 John F. Kennedy said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”  Many times when I walk into an amazing classroom as the specialist, it is often times that I become the humble student and am able to share the building blocks of what I have learned from so many wonderful experts to pass along.

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