Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My Experiences at the J. M. Murry Center Teaching Older Adults with Disabilities

Reflective Journal Halloween Dance 10/28/11

Let me start off by saying that I honestly had a blast at the Halloween dance. I really enjoyed and appreciated the opportunity to dance with the adapted adults.

What stood out to me the most in this class, besides the Halloween dance itself was the speech that Rik Daniels came in and gave to our class. I can honestly say that it was not what I was expecting at all. Usually, and I know this is very stereotypical, but I am still learning, when I think of someone with a disability I think of someone who has a mental disability. I know that this is shallow and I am glad that I am learning these things now, before I go out and teach.

I have a short attention span and have trouble paying attention to someone when they are talking for a long period of time. Rik was able to keep my attention the whole time, not only was everything that he was saying interesting. I found him to be extremely insightful, brutally honest, and a real eye opener. He also had quite the sense of humor I must say. But most of all he taught me more about people who have disabilities then I think any of the classes I have taken here at SUNY Cortland has thus far in my education. I love his quote “not if, but how.” I have it posted up on my wall above my desk so that I look at it every day.

What I am trying to say is I love the fact the he was so open and so honest about everything that he had to say. He really opened my eyes to the fact the people with disabilities can do anything that nondisabled people can do. Not that I thought they couldn’t before, but he proved to me just in his accomplishments alone that anything is possible for anyone, not matter what there abilities might be.

Another thing that Rik said that really stood out to me was that someone’s attitude was the biggest handicap. If you really think about this it is true, and it is true for everyone. If you approach something, no matter what it may be with the mindset that you cannot do it, then chances are that you are going to fail. On the other hand if you approach it with the mindset that you are going to find a way to make it work, then the odds are in your favor for that to work out for you.

All in all I am very glad that I had to opportunity to take this class and to meet and work with the adults that came to the dance. The dance its self was a blast, Carlee and I had the opportunity to teach Super Freak. With this opportunity I was able to learn how to modify the dance by using some of the strategies that were taught to be during the class. These strategies are going to be so helpful in the future, because I now know different way to modify any dance I might need to in the future.

Reflective Journal #1 11/4/11

This past Friday was my first time visiting the J. M. Murry Center. The dance teacher we met, Marylou was awesome! She was so enthusiastic and seemed to have so much fun teaching the class. Just being around her made you smile. That and you couldn’t help but get into and have fun with all of the dances we did in the short thirty minute class.

There was once dance that really stood out to me. I do not remember what song it was too, but I believe that you could do this dance to any song. The way that the dance was set up was that all the dancers were in a circle, and in the middle of the circle spread out was a bunch of different dance moves written on a note card on the ground. Each dancers got a turn to take a ball ( that did not really bounce) and throw the ball into the center of the circle and whatever dance move ( swing, twist, etc…) that the ball landed closest too is the move that all the dancers in the circle got to do, until it was the next persons turn to throw the ball. I thought that this was great because even though everyone that Carlee and I was working with were in wheelchairs they all still got to be totally included in making up the dance as well as participating in the dance.

Since this was our first visit to the J.M. Murry center Carlee and I only observed and assisted with the class, but I am really looking forward to getting the opportunity to teach a dance at the next class that we will be attending this Friday the

Reflection #2 11/11/11

This was the second time that I had to opportunity to go help out at the J.M Murry Center. This visit was also the first time that I had the chance to teach a dance. Carlee and I chose to teach the super freak dance that we taught during the Halloween dance. Since all of the dancers in our class us a wheelchair, we chose the super freak dance because we could modify it to use mostly arms.

I thought that our teaching went pretty well considering it was our first time. One thing that I would change if I was going to teach the dance again would be to pick a much slower song to do the dance too. I found the dance to be a little too fast paced and complicated for most of the dancers in our class. Furthermore more the next dance that we teach I think should have more moving the wheel chairs around because the dancers seem to really like when we move them all around the room a lot, so I will make sure to include that into the next dance that we teach.

Much like I mentioned last week, the dance teacher, Mary Lou was again very hesitant to let us teach her class this coming week. Which surprises me because as a future teacher I believe that I would love it, if and when I get a teaching job and I have students who are eager to learn and want to come in and help teach a class. Hopefully as Mary Lou sees us successfully teach her class she will be more likely to let us step in and help out more and more each week.

Reflection #3 November 18th, 2011

This was the third opportunity that I had to go and help out with a dance class at the J.M Murry Center. This time Carlee and I choose to do a very simple dace to the song “Who Let the Dogs Out.” This is a very fun and upbeat song, but we chose to do a slower and simple dance to it. The class before this one Carlee and I taught the Super Freak dance that we learned at the Halloween dance, and we were not too successful when we taught this dance. The Super Freak dance was fast paced and had to many movements for the level of skill that our dancers had, and we learned this the hard way. Also what we did learn from teaching this dance was that not only did we need a slower paced dance, we need to make sure that the arm movements did not change too fast or too often. That is why we chose to do a slower less complicated dance that only had three different dance movements involved in it. The Who Let the Dogs Out dance actually ended up being too simple for our dancers. This is exactly the opposite of what happened with out dance the previous week.

I am glad that we are given the opportunity to go in a teach a dance three times, because this allows Carlee and I to learn from our mistakes and go in and give it another try, I am looking forward to going to the next class because I am hoping that third time’s a charm and the dance that we have selected for the next class will be much more successful then the last two!

Reflection #4 12/2/11

Today was the fourth and final time Carlee and I had the opportunity to teach dance at the J.M. Murry Center. I know that in my previous reflection I spoke about how we were struggling to find a dance that would be appropriate for the level of skills that our dance class had. After tow semi-failed attempts Carlee and I sat down and really thought hard about this week’s dance. We were able to come up with a dance that had five different hand movements that each went for sixteen beats each and we got though the movements twice each. This dance ended up being a success! Our students only struggled a little bit the first time we went through the arm movements, but the second time around they were on point, because they already knew what to do. All in all this lesson was a great success.

I am really glad that Carlee and I had the opportunity to teach dance at the J.M Murry Center. This had been the first chance I had, besides our Halloween dance to work with older adults that had disabilities, and I am not sure that I will be able to experience this again here at Cortland through any of my other class.

I found that working with adults that have disabilities is a little bit different then working with younger students with disabilities. The main difference that I see is that the adults in my opinion seem to be a little more high functioning then the younger students, not because they have different disabilities, but I believe it is because the adults have more experience and have and have been through the education system longer and thus have learned a lot of things that the younger students still have not experienced. This could just be my opinion, but from what I have seen, the adults really do benefit from all of the programs we have in place for them.

All in all I am very happy that I got to experience all of this, and I really think that it is going to help me when I become a teacher, because I have already had the chance to teach adults. In addition, I feel that I have really learned from my mistakes and grown a lot in my teaching because I had the opportunity to get out there and experience everything myself. Experiencing things on my own is the best way for me to learn, you can tell me in a classroom how to do something, but I am the type of person who has to go out there and give it a try before it all really sinks in for me, and I believe that is why I really enjoyed this class and this experience as a whole.

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