AAC, AT, Families, Inclusion, Literacy, UDL

A Word From Katya Hill on Teaching

By Samuel Charles Sennott

This is a new category of post, called A Word, which will usually be more personal in nature and kick off a series of more practical and resource based entries.

Teaching is a terrific vocation. Being able to help learners with communication, literacy, technology integration, and inclusion is such a gift. Closing the Gap 2007 was a terrific experience where I got yet another chance to sit, listen, and respond to my favorite community of teachers, parents, practitioners, and researchers. The words I hear are burned into my consciousness. Having the opportunity to study how to better teach is such a gift. I think back to my first Closing the Gap and what it meant to me to hear Linda Burkhart’s message. Yes, yes, I deeply recognize the key we have in the Internet. In fact, coupled with the concept of One to One Thousand, we will be able to help learners in an unprecedented way. Yet, nothing can replace hearing Linda Burkhart talk about motivation, the power of two switch step scanning, and the engagement of children with special needs. Hearing about the metaphor of the lady with the yellow umbrella just isn’t the same over compressed video…

I had the opportunity to teach this year at Closing the Gap and it felt terrific to share the work I am engaged in regarding literacy and AAC supports that are cool, using visual scenes and digital story telling, poetry, as well as the Language Banking Project that helps record child friendly voices. Yet, the most amazing thing has happened over the last calendar year. While I have always had an affinity for thinking deeply about the work our community is engaged in, recently, I have had an intense growing desire to know what works and why. I am rereading the AAC textbook by David R. Beukelman and Pat Mirenda and it is the perfect time, as I am considering communication supports so intensely in my teaching work! I am finding myself hungry for the research and also increasingly ready to design my own projects. This searching and testing is important. We have to get it right for these children, adults, and their families. I have been checking out the excellent resource found in The Family Center on Technology and Disability and came upon this quote from a forum Katya Hill moderated in 2003. You can find the full text here: Using a map versus a compass.

Evidence-based practice (EBP) is really not a new term for the same old ways of doing things. EBP is a paradigm shift for practitioners, other stakeholders, and most important, individuals who rely on AT/AAC. Applying the principles of EBP requires all of us to build new skills which we never master. EBP is a life-long process of posing the best questions in order to seek and evaluate the best evidence to make the best decisions with our clients. Data (from several sources) is critical to effective decision-making. Results of a search conducted today should not be the results of the future. Katya Hill, EPP: Using a map versus a compass, posted on Dec. 17, 2003

Those last words, “Results of a search conducted today should not be the results of the future.” are powerful to me in that they tell me what I have heard often: “you never figure teaching out, but you are always learning.”

Last Friday, after a full week of intense teaching in an early childhood setting coupled with seeking answers to the AAC questions that work was bringing up, I stopped and recognized how amazing it is to have a chance to ask these increasingly better questions and to seek the best evidence to make these important decisions. I am so happy that I have the opportunity to both work very hard with children, but also pursue these questions of how to better help them learn. What a gift those two intermingled things are.

October 30, 2007 - Posted by | AAC, Assistive Technology, inspiration, Literacy

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