It has been a privilege to be a part Dr. Bialka’s Introduction to Disability Studies class. Dr. Bialka does such a great job at incorporating what she teaches about UDL in her own lessons, which is what made every lesson super comprehensive. I have taken away so much from this class, even skills that could be useful in everyday interaction in and outside the classroom. Not only have I learned a bunch from this class, but it has provided me with the opportunity to work with LEVEL, which has been an integral part of my semester. Overall, I am super glad that I harassed Dr. Bialka into writing me into this class (just kidding, haha!).
Looking back at my initial goals, they have changed quite a bit. Over the course of the semester, I made some edits to my earlier posts; nevertheless, I still remember what I had written previous to the changes. To start, coming into this class earlier in the semester, I had not yet chosen my concentration. It is thanks to Dr. Bialka, and even some of my classmates that I was able to find the subject area for me. Furthermore, my goal in terms of the course material, was that I wanted to “see the world from a disabled person’s lens.” I now know that no matter how educated I am on the topic of disability, I will never know exactly what it is like to be a person with a disability of any kind. However, through the extensive discussions and readings, I have gotten a really good idea of what it may be like. I realized the importance of not accidentally being ableist, especially when sharing your knowledge of a group that you are not part of. I will now be able to keep the conversations we had in this class in the back of my mind when teaching different groups of students!
My understanding of disability, however, has not changed. I still see disability as a uniqueness. Another phrase that I like to now use is, “differently-abled.” I feel like the word “disability” can sometimes come off as a little negative, so I often feel like differently-abled should be the updated term. I hope that one day everyone just sees disability as a unique trait, rather than something that is lacking of a person.
My awareness of disability rhetoric has really taken a toll on how view certain things now. For example, every time I see a post on twitter related to disability, or a poster on facebook related to disability, or in TV shows, I try to connect it with one of the disability rhetorics we learned about. I can definitely say that the realistic rhetoric is not something that I have encountered many times. This makes me think about how far we have to left to go in order to normalize disability and using the realistic rhetoric for all incorporations of disability in anything.
Furthermore, I really found it effective every time one of my classmates did their extensions and added a personal connection the disability topic they were explaining; it helped me realize the realness of what is disability. It was extremely helpful because I am hearing not only about the person affected with the disability but those who are affected by the disability that one may have. I liked how we talked about the feelings of siblings and parents when they live with a disabled person. This is useful because not only could because it offers a different perspective that I might have never considered otherwise but because it could be something a future student of mine could be dealing with.
Moving forward, LEVEL has really helped me with a more substantial understanding of disability, because I did not have many encounters with people with severe disabilities other than my family friend when I was 9. Working with LEVEL has opened up a whole new way of communicating and teaching for me that I did not know about before. Recognizing that every student I worked with learned differently, was eye-opening. I learned about patience, strength, determination and friendship through my work at LEVEL.
Leaving IDS, and delving more into my major of Education, I hope to continue to utilize the skills that I have gained throughout this course in my work and in my future classroom. I want to be able to make every student feel like they belong in this classroom, despite their barriers, because they do. Being considerate of any differences will help all students reach their full potential, and help me become the most effective teacher that I can be. I am thankful for the many lessons I have learned in Introduction to Disability Studies this semester.☻