WOW! What a wonderful and special “class” we had on Thursday. I felt very comfortable and relaxed working with our unique group of students in the pool. I had a partner that really had a way of connecting with our student. Initially she seemed hesitant and the instructor told me that she didn’t like to get in the pool. I said, okay and then turned around smiling and was like, “This is going to be fun! Do you want to get in the water with me?” and she said “Yes.” (Hmmm. Okay, this could be great. Let’s see what happens.) She got in slowly and then just developed a death grip on the side of the pool. (Ok, stay calm and just socialize with her and the others around.) I remembered to ask questions and give options that any response would be appropriate. “Would you like to walk over and see so and so or go over there?” Either response would end in a result of pushing our student out of her comfort zone. We slowly built trust and increased the distance we traveled or got her to take one hand off the side of the pool and then the other. Next my partner and I each held one of her hands and she stepped off the side of the pool. Then a break through… We made a circle and I started singing “Ring around the rosie, pocket full of posey, ashes, ashes, we all fall down.” We turned in a circle pulling our student away from the wall without her even struggling. She was distracted by the song and was singing and giggling. When we “fell down” we bobbed in the water and went half way under. 🙂 After that we were able to progress to walking diagonally across the pool holding hands to stopping in the middle of the pool to “talk to” other students and eventually floating on her back with supports!
She really did exceed the instructors expectations (of just getting in the pool) and truthfully my expectations as well. I feel proud of her for being so brave and trusting two new people she just met to help her. I feel like this hands on experience beats any lecture information we could have received on this topic. What a great experience!
I learned that I work well in this type of undefined lesson situation. I draw on songs and when there is a silence. I really found myself singing and not knowing quite why; but i did use it as a conversation piece and a tool of distraction to ease our student. My partner had some great ideas for distraction from fear, like having our student kick her legs like a scissors or kicking to make splashes. I never would of thought of holding a person’s feet to help them float, but he did, and hit made her feel safe enough to relax.
Collaboration was used to unite our class with this special group of student with disabilities. Our teacher and the other instructor worked out an appropriate location and time as well as what their expectations were for the experience. Parents collaborated by showing interest, getting there kids to the pool on time, and trusting us with their children. We as students collaborated in preparing for this experience and working well with our partners to create a positive learning environment. We used trial and error, communicated our ideas wittily and in a clear manner. If something didn’t work both parties brainstormed rapidly for some one the spot problem solving. Collaboration at it’s best!