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Teaching to Give Back

Ideas to encourage students with visual impairments to give back to others and to the community

student and teacherStudents with visual impairments are the frequent recipients of assistance, but rarely are they given the opportunity to “give back”.  When they are given the opportunity, they are often unclear of how or where to start.
One of the things I try with my students is to do this without telling them that’s what we’re doing. We start simple…a letter thanking someone for something or an offer to create a braille sign for the teacher’s door. There is always a discussion following the activity on how this made them feel and how it made the other person feel.  We talk about how they know the person felt this way. This opens up opportunities to talk about tone of voice, interactions (both physical and verbal) with the other person, etc.
Writing thank you letters is a favorite of mine as frequently our students aren’t given the chance to say thank you. The object, materials, etc. are dropped off and the person is gone before the student can say anything. Often our students are considered ungrateful as they didn’t say thank you. This is a great way to teach them how to say thank you and to show the giver that the student is appreciative of the assistance or gift.
Some ideas for ways to give back:
  • welcome note from student to teacher

    a braille or print letter of thanks to someone for something 
  • braille or write a letter of welcome to a new staff member or student at the school
  • mentor a younger student
  • create materials for a younger student
  • read to a younger student
  • volunteer in a younger student’s classroom
  • help the teacher pass out materials to group or classroom
  • create a “giving box” (with items a new or less fortunate student might need in the classroom)
  • assist someone with their homework
  • read a story to a kindergarten or preschool classroom
  • provide a tour of the school to a new student, parent, etc.
Read about how one of my older students made braille matching books for a younger student.
The list goes on and is only limited by not opening one’s mind to the possibilities!
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