by Rae Takiff, Or Hadash
In my time so far being a part of the TAP program I have learned many valuable and helpful things that have applied to my journey as a madricha at my Hebrew school and furthermore, to my own life and experiences. This past November TAP session was my favorite one yet.
We started off by sharing a rose and a thorn from our classroom experiences. A rose being a positive, successful experience and a thorn being a challenging or negative experience we may need some help with. I found it very beneficial to share with people who were in the same situation as me. I believe this is very valuable because we are able to learn from and inspire ideas in each other. TAP is really special because of exactly this. Teaching is all about learning, whether it be students learning from teachers, teachers learning from their students, or students learning from their peers.
Then we heard from our guest speaker of the night: Wendy Elliot-Vandivier. Wendy is an artist who creates paintings and cartoons to illustrate her life and the lives of other disabled people. She shares her artwork with the world to illuminate struggles and stereotypes as they relate to disabilities and microaggressions that disabled people face in their day to day lives. Wendy presented a couple of her cartoons to us and explained the story and ideas behind them; many of them being insightful representations of experiences that Wendy encountered in her very real life. I think that Wendy is really talented. She has the ability to translate her feelings and stories into a creative outlet that advocates for people with disabilities. Her cartoons are powerful because they blatantly speak the true feelings of disabled people who may not feel comfortable or have the voice to discuss this part of their lives with the world.
After Wendy’s presentation we learned about the difference between adaptations and modifications for students in a classroom. An adaptation or accommodation is a simple change that can be made to a learning environment, how an assignment is done, or available equipment to make it easier for a student to learn and/or focus. An adaptation lets students meet the same expectations as their peers. On the other hand, a modification completely changes the content or curriculum and what is expected of the student. Adaptations are better because the changes don’t take away from a student’s education, they just help them.
Next we discussed adaptations vs modifications. We were given an example of an adaptation or modification and we were asked to decipher which was which. Then we split up into small groups and came up with helpful adaptations for kids that we may have in our classrooms based on a given situation. I thought it was helpful to learn about this because the role of a good teacher is to help their students learn. Giving helpful adaptations when they are needed allows a student to learn a greater amount in a way best suited to them. I learned many helpful strategies in this session that I will be able to apply to my classroom and even in other situations in life as well.