Showing posts with label differences. Show all posts
Showing posts with label differences. Show all posts

January 8, 2022

Sensory Room at Watford Football Club (soccer)

There's an exciting new viewing area at the Watford Football Club Vicarage Road Stadium in Watford, England, a small-sized football (soccer) sports arena that first opened in 1922 and has capacity for 22,200 fans.

The "Sensory Room" at Watford Football Club is a specifically designed stadium viewing room for children with autism and their families. There are only two of their kind (Arsenal FC opened a smaller sensory room in 2017) among football club stadiums around the world. The Sensory Room was installed in 2019 to provide a special place for these kids and their families that helps to buffer the loud sports arena environment that can often be overwhelming or debilitating to people with this condition.

The room is available for booking by any child and their family or caregiver with a doctor's note. The special room’s design is already winning several awards for its accessible design and forward-thinkingness in inclusive practices.

Image from:

What’s really important about this Sensory Room is that Watford is making a statement about financial and space management that prioritizes mental and emotional health in professional sports. It’s a statement of inclusivity and choosing people over profits. In the prime arena real estate the Sensory Room occupies, most arenas would stall another bar or premium viewing box. You can see in the image below that the Sensory Room occupies prime viewing space that could provide hundreds of more seats to gain revenue from:

Image from:

Watford’s Sensory Room features several supportive attributes including easy entry points to the stadium so the children don’t have to experience the crowds and turnstiles, a calming down area in the rear of the Sensory Room with special lights, water tubes, calming projections, and comfort seating like bean bags; emotion-coded non-verbal labels to communicate family needs and emotional states easily with staff, and provides complete isolation from the surrounding bright lights and loud noises of the arena. The team’s happy yellow and black mascot, Harry the Hornet, makes regular visits to say hi to the children and their families in the Sensory Room.

Image from:
So if you like to watch football (soccer), consider supporting Watford’s forward-thinking club that makes inclusive decisions in their stadium planning.
And if you’re a manager at a sports venue, consider making positive changes at your sports or public facility for people with different abilities. Create opportunities and remove barriers so that all people can enjoy your venue.
You can see more of Watford's Sensory Room in the below video:


August 16, 2021

Online Learning, A Pandemic Bandaid

I was hopeful when all of America collectively implemented online learning last year - that people who had never tried it before may come to like it and find it efficient for teaching and learning - but instead the application was poor and many students did not achieve the learning gains possible. Online learning has pretty much been badmouthed in the media - but yet here we go again, rushing to remote learning due to the new rise in more dangerous Covid variants.

Online learning is not for everyone?

Now as another in-person school year is threatened by the Covid delta variant, the same students will be rushed into an online learning system that could produce less than mediocre learning results (and probably being implemented by the same staff badmouthing online learning). It’s normal to be frustrated with technology - but I encourage you to give online learning a try with a fresh perspective and utilizing the tips below.

Through modern curriculum design methods, online learning should be successful for most learners with the proper supports, like having trained teachers (teachers properly trained to support online learners, and who are not overloaded with in-person teaching duties at the same time) and reliable learning management systems. Online learners that are successful are also typically self-motivated and strong readers (usually English is necessary but ESOL programs are available too).

Supporting online learners

To support this rushed transition to online “remote” learning with these students:

Support and structure learning for self-discipline. Use regular turn-in intervals for assignments, predictable activity schedules, mandatory in-person check-ins, a clear agenda posted for each unit, predictable assignment successions, succinct rubrics that are shared in advance of the assignment, and apply metacognitive strategies to maximize your students’ learning. 

Humanize the online environment and build authentic connections. This is really the most important tip - if you don’t build instructor-to-student support, peer-to-peer community, and learner-to-content personal connection; then prepare for your learners to check out from your lesson. Learners are motivated and build connections while learning in an online environment through these elements - these authentic, humanized connections are what we all need in the online environment. 

Create clear instructions. Try to be succinct and don’t be superfluous with your word choices. Sometimes a video is needed to explain an assignment, which is also a chance to build instructor presence. State your instructions starting with a directional verb: look at what is used in this article, telling you to “support,” “humanize,” "build," “create,” and “remember.” Have someone else proofread your instructions (if appropriate, an advanced student in the class) or at least read them aloud to yourself. You could also work in community with other instructors to provide support for each other.

Recognize that every learner is different and will need varying levels of interaction and support to grasp the lesson. The learners that already lack support to be successful in a traditional in-person classroom: these students will likely need the most instructor support on a regular basis. Are you sure that your learners have reliable access to the internet and a device capable of completing the online work? Is there district or school level technical support for teachers to help ensure this access?

One last thought that’s super important about supporting students through this online transition: as we send individual students (or groups of students) home to quarantine for two weeks at a time, are we also sending meals home with them? Hunger is endemic to the children in our school systems. I don’t think this is currently being done. This program could be run similarly to the summer breakfast/lunch pickup program already run throughout the country (through Covid too). Let’s make sure these kids are being taught effectively... and being fed!

What are your thoughts about online learning? Have you had successes or failures - share a comment below. 


Popular Posts

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});