Robby peppered me with reminders and questions all morning about the presentation. Before we left for school he gave me a huge bear hug and smothered me with kisses. "Momom, thank you for coming to talk with my class. I feel really proud when you come and teach us. It would be super duper fun if you brought a treat too. Maybe cupcakes?" Let there be no doubt that he is my son!
Although his request for cupcakes made me smile, his sentiments made my heart melt. I love that he enjoys and looks forward to my involvement with his class. In a few years, I'm sure he won't be nearly as excited to see my smiling face walk through his classroom door. For now, I am thoroughly enjoying the smiles that I receive even though I know that they will soon turn into eye rolls.
With the suggested cupcakes in hand, I walked into Robby's class at the requested time. His eyes, along with those of his classmates, lit up when they saw me enter. I would like to think that they were happy to see me, but I'm fairly certain that their reaction could be traced directly to the cupcakes I was holding.
Sitting in a circle on the floor, I began to talk to the class about Braille. I was a bit taken aback by their lack of exposure to this form of reading. I have known Braille for almost 20 years and for me, it is second nature. Robby grew up with a variety of print-to-braille books. Although he can't read Braille, he understands its purpose and use. His classmates couldn't identify any places where they have ever seen Braille, much less comprehend that people can read with their fingertips.
More than the lack of exposure, I suppose I was more disturbed the fact that none of them seemed to have any interest in what I was teaching. With the exception of Robby, the students consistently voiced their boredom with the topic. After a few minutes of floundering, I was able to regain my bearings and retooled my approach. While I didn't accomplish everything that I had planned, at least his classmates understood that Braille existed and had a basic understanding as to its purpose. They seemed to enjoy seeing their names in Braille but consistently complained (some would say whined) that the dots did not resemble the print alphabet.
When I was Robby's age, a speaker came into my class and taught us about Braille. I credit this early exposure to my pursuing the teaching of blind and visually impaired children as a career. I was hoping to have made a similar impression on a younger generation today. This was not the case. Although the lesson did not go as well as I had planned, I'll settle for broadening the horizons of the students. Thankfully I was able to redeem myself with the cupcakes and, by the time I left the class, all of the Braille aggravations seemed to have been forgotten.