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Beyond the familiar: How well do you know your students?

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Started by Chrissie Butler 19 Nov 2013 8:39am () Replies (2)

Recently I had the privilege of filming Matt Frost chatting about his experience of autism and his reflections on school.

For Matt, school was mostly a positive experience, yet some of his reflections made me think about how we  meet student's needs as they experience change in their own lives.

Take a look at the videos below and see how Matt's stories resonate with your own thinking and where they nudge you to reconsider how you work alongside students (and colleagues).

You can also view the videos of Matt Frost with their interactive transcripts on YouTube. A great option if you would like to find a quote. The text on the web page below the video is highlighted in the transcript as it plays.


  • Tara O'Neill (View all users posts) 19 Nov 2013 10:06am ()

    As a mum with  a 16 year old daughter with Autism I know exactly what Matt is talking about.  I think she would say similarly that she loved primary school.  From my perspective she had a terrible time at primary school, mainly because no one understood her including me.  Some teachers tried to make her do what everyone else did.  "Get into that box"  and this wasn't because they were mean.  It was just out of their understanding.  What do you do when you don't understand?  What do we do when whole schools don't understand?  What do you do when you only have two boxes to put people into?

    When you can only watch someone in pain emotionally and have no understanding why that pain is there you need help to understand.  I found help from people who had empathy with her experience.  At that time there were not many people that understood.  That is why I am an advocate that in schools we need to spend time understanding.  How do we do that?  First of all you have to admit you don't know everything.  When people say someone has a condition whatever it is ... don't rub it out and say "oh well that is just bad parenting" or "that is someone elses problem".  Say, ok I am going to find out more about this.  

    If students come to school and act differently from everyone else or do things which are "naughty"  don't say "that person should do this now and I am going to make them..."  say " I wonder why?  Come and talk with me and lets see if we can do something to help you."   Then go and get the help.

    Just because something hasn't happened in your experience doesn't mean it shouldn't happen or that person is wrong.  It just means we have more to learn.  Learning never stops, it only ever starts.

    So lets chuck the boxes out and just have a big round expandable suitcase which fits everyone in, no matter what!


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