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Do you have the time?

Each year when a new school year begins, time becomes a topic in every conversation. You might hear the following phrases from teachers, administrators, students and parents: time management, not enough time in the day, time to get up, time to go to bed and from VI teachers, so many students, so little time.

 We all have our favorite technology solutions to save us time, emails, voice mails, smart phones, notebooks, e-readers etc. Our students are taught technology to access information quickly,  increase their time management and productivity.

 But what about our students who need more processing time? How do we slow down to allow them the time they need? How do we stay quiet and wait for them to learn?

 Lilli Nielsen, Barbara Miles and Jan Van Dijk’s teaching strategies suggest they we take the time to become better observers of our students with unique processing and idiosyncratic communication patterns. We must take time for observation so we can design environments where the students feel safe and encourage the use of their primary sense for learning.

 The tactual sense is not usually emphasized in most classrooms. Visual and auditory materials are the predominate strategies in general and special education settings. Students with sensory impairments, who are at the developmental level where they need object exploration and rich tactual experiences, do not usually have opportunities to engage in tactual exploration. That is unless the educational team sets up their environments and schedules time for the activities. And once the environments and schedules are set the “teaching” strategy we must use is to observe, be quiet,  and document the student’s exploration to facilitate the learning environment.

 Time after time, we hear from educators that they don’t know what to “do” with our sensory impaired students that need different learning environments. Our answer should be: the students need to be the ones “doing”  and we need to be watching, listening and collecting data. It should be our goal to problem solve with the team and create environments that provide opportunities for our students to be “doers”.

 There are many great articles in past Texas Sensibilities issues that describe the strategies of Lillie Nielsen, Barbara Miles and Jan van Dijk and the following link describes the theories of each one: http://www.tsbvi.edu/therapy/theoretical.htm

 So make time to meet with the educational teams and determine the best use of your time with students who need more time in exploring and learning about their world.

Ann Rash
Outreach VI Infant Specialist 
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