John Mahar's Blog

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Barb Rentenbach and Dr. Lois Presentation

Some of you went to see Barb present last Friday. Here is the website for her and Dr. Lois' new book, I Might Be You. They will present again on Thursday, April 25th, at 11:10am. Here is a video of a presentation they did a couple years ago. Temple Grandin is another woman with autism that had a very rough time growing up, but now is relatively famous. I read a book by her for a class in my masters program. One story I'll share from one of the presentations I saw: A student of mine asked something like, "Does she [something something]" I don't remember the rest of the question. Barb responded "She is me, and I am right here. You can address your questions to me." The student was, not surprisingly, embarrassed, but said that it was a lesson she would never forget, and that it helped her build empathy and respect for people with disabilities. What stood out to you about the presentation? What are some lessons you think you'll take with you? Please feel free to ask further questions and respond to each other's questions.


At 2:40 PM, Blogger Kelsey Franklin said...

To be 100% honest, I found myself discovering a prejudice I didn't realize existed, which I am embarrassed to admit. I did not think Barb would be capable of what she is based on her appearance. She is a LOT more intelligent than I am, she just has to use certain alternate methods of communication to express herself. This realization will definitely affect my initial impressions when I meet a person with a disability because from now on, I will better understand how much can really be going on underneath the surface. However, with that being said, I think it would be so challenging to get through to a student who might have autism in your classroom after seeing all of the prompting and focusing Barb was given by Dr. Lois to elicit her responses. I have witnessed a child with autism in an inclusive classroom, and, most of the time, the teacher was unable to give him the direct attention/instruction that would've probably been very beneficial for his learning because she was too worried about teaching the rest of the class. I think this balance would be a huge struggle in an inclusive class.

At 4:26 PM, Blogger Dan Rho said...

When I went to the presentation, I didn't really know what I was expecting. I was excited to see who Barb was and see what I can learn from this experience.

Though the experience wasn't life changing, I was reminded of one of my own teaching philosophy. I was reminded of modeling and meeting them where my students are. I was also reminded that making connections/relationships with students WILL go a long way.

Barb is mute, but her brain was working a million miles an hour. It was truly marvelous spectating.
For the Q&A session, no one talked, but Barb typed on her iPad, "One mute per show please."

At the end of the night, I went up and got a stamped autograph from her for my notes. Anyone can learn, so let's make it happen.

At 1:42 PM, Blogger Caroline Seiler said...

I had a lot of questions but I felt like I wanted to ask Dr. Lois and not Barb even though they were all about her and her life. I didn't ask any of my questions because it seemed awkward. It was really eye opening to realized that no matter how different Barb looks and her lack of speech she is so smart. She's definitely smarter than me. She has written books! I would never have thought that possible just by looking at her or see her try to communicate without her technological support. I'm glad I was able to see Barb and learn from her because as a teacher it will be so important for me not to make assumptions about my students' intelligence based off off their appearance or a disability. I hope Barb knows how big of a difference she is making by sharing her life with us.

At 9:16 AM, Blogger Eman D. said...

I attended Barb's first visit to campus. I wasn't sure what to expect but I have heard of a similar situation on abc's 20/20. Having watched the short video that was made on Barbs's behalf before I went to the event, her intelligence didn't surprise me, but I was still amazed at her capabilities, intelligence, and sense of humor.

The mind is a mysterious thing to us, it can surprise us in so many shapes and forms, so I ask teachers and future teachers to be open minded and never judge a student's capabilities no matter how they might appear, behave, and/or perform.


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