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There is no “I” in Teamwork When Teaching a Dual Learner

Teamwork is a key to student success for children with special needs, including visual impairment

“There is no ‘i’ in ‘team’, but there is in ‘win’.”
— Michael Jordan (American retired pro basketball player and current businessman) 

Recently, I posted a blog on learning how to teach a student through a dual media approach, using braille and large print.   Since writing that post, I have felt strongly about writing about one major component in the success of teaching a child with low vision through a dual media program.  What is the one major ingredient? Teamwork! 

When I first met Khi Khi, a dual media learner, I also was introduced to her first grade teacher, Angela McKinney, as well as additional teachers, David Huckabee and Kay Sutton and their amazing principals, Holly Grubbs and Jennifer Gibralter.  It wasn’t long before I began to truly understand the importance of communication and working with a team of professionals to create the best type of educational program. 

The first day before I worked with Khi Khi, Mrs. Grubbs knelt down beside her and whispered, “This is a nice lady and a teacher.   I would never let anyone go anywhere with you without knowing them well.”   Khi Khi smiled, took my hand and off to work we went.  The principal set the stage for a secure and safe environment before we began to work.

Student with teacher
Student with teacher

The Value of Team Meetings

Another eye-opening experience for me was when I met with her team of teachers, the green berets of teaching children — all children!   It was Angela’s idea to meet throughout the weeks and discuss what we all were observing in our mutual student’s educational programming. For example, Angela opened my eyes when she told me Khi Khi struggled with fine motor skills- another indication of a visual impairment.  David and Kay discussed the font size of her reading materials and how alert she became visually when the yellow reading stand was placed behind the books she was beginning to read. They also discovered the yellow background with black writing and how visually alert Khi Khi became when looking at print with high contrast.  

High contrast
High contrast worksheet

Angela, David and Kay were so kind to me when they asked excellent questions such as: Is she going to get magnification devices? What type of devices? How large should the font size be when teaching reading? Should she attend summer school in order to become more confident in second grade? 

The Benefits of Teamwork

Student reading bookWhile there are many reasons for being excited to be a part of this incredible school and the people in it, what I observe school-wide is the teamwork of the entire staff.  When working in the cafeteria one afternoon, the custodian asked me if Khi Khi and I wanted to spread out and have plenty of room to work, so we discovered the magic place to work – behind the stage – and it has been wonderful! 

Khi Khi and I do spell ball, toss beanbags, work on keyboarding skills and other goals while having excellent lighting, a quiet place and a large area, so we can cover her expanded core goals throughout every week. 

As much as my badge screams “vision specialist”, her success comes from the work of the entire team of people who love and teach Khi Khi daily: her family, her teachers, her administrators and her vision teacher.  We all learn so much from this tiny blessing, who is full of personality and intelligence.  She is already making a huge difference in the lives of others. 

To quote retired basketball pro, Michael Jordan, “There is no ‘i’ in ‘team’, but there is in ‘win’.” — and because of the teamwork of all involved in a child’s life, there are so many wins!

Pinterest collage of teamwork
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