I used to work in Dementia care, not hands on but as a strategist passionate about service improvement, I was fortunate enough to lead on patient and carer consultation and engagement and this meant that I got to step out from my office and meet the patients and their families, something rare for a service mover and shaper. It was something I wanted to do and pushed for, how could we make services to suit the needs of people who used them if we didn’t talk to them in meaningful ways, not just as a tick box exercise?
I also got to network with people who worked for various charities and voluntary organisations who supported people affected by this awful disease. I learned so much about it as a disease in all of its various forms and also about it as a devastating incurable illness which tore through families as harshly as it tore through the brains of those who developed it. I learned from so many wonderful people, passionate professionals (ie those with qualifications) and even more passionate non-professionals (those with no qualifications but who lived with this disease day in and day out and who probably knew more than the professionals did).
Watching this video brought me to tears and I decided to share it on my blog because it is a lesson for us teachers, it’s a lesson in not giving up on someone who seems beyond your reach. It’s a lesson in finding a way so that everyone can enjoy a chance to flourish in safety and with confidence.
Most of us will never have to deal with students or people outside of our profession within our communities or families as difficult to reach as this lady but remembering that someone took the time, found a way and made a breakthrough with her might inspire us to at least try when we face the less monumental challenge of a tricky student.