In this chapter Melody discusses the time that she spends thinking of new things to say with her device. This certainly made me think of how often we speak without thinking and how Melody does not have this ability – or is THAT a disability that WE have? Melody does mention not appreciating when people talk “about” her. This is so important that we include our students in conversations about their abilities and progress – who knows what they might like to contribute. Melody spends much of this chapter focusing on the love and support of Mrs. V and her family. She knows her family loves her and believes in her, it’s the rest of the world she is worried about. This statement at the end of the chapter made me think of all the ways our students feel they must “prove” themselves to others when at school, this includes proving themselves to us as teachers. May we give them opportunities to show us what they know rather than challenging what they don’t.
The interactions with Mr. D really stuck out in my mind from this chapter. These highlighted the ways in which so many people make assumptions about Melody’s abilities, as well as the way people who don’t believe in her abilities make her feel. I certainly hope that my students feel that I have confidence in their ability to learn and communicate. At the end of the Quiz Team tryouts I felt like Mr. D tried to be nice to Melody and maybe even redeem himself for initially suggesting she didn’t belong. Unfortunately, his comment about “you might want to wipe your mouth” showed a lack of compassion. I can think of so many ways that this situation could have been approached to preserve her dignity – would I have approached it that way? Do I encourage? Do I believe in the abilities of my students instead of the disabilities?
Yay! Melody Made the Quiz Team – and… that is the only happy thing about this chapter. The kids are mean and say “what will people think of us?” and they mock Melody. A time when Melody should be so proud of her accomplishment becomes so sad. She does discuss some dignity issues in this chapter and the dependence on others to use the bathroom throughout the day. These care needs are described as if they are at the front of her mind throughout the day and trips to the bathroom at school are dreaded experiences for Melody. At the end of the chapter when the other students in the inclusion classroom are being unkind, she simply says “go” to communicate that she wants to leave. As much as I want Melody to “have the last word” per say – sometimes words are just not enough. This does leave me thinking about how I make others feel. Do my actions suggest I think less of someone’s abilities because of the way they look or a physical disability?