Teaching in today's world has become a major challenge but imagine trying to educate individuals with special needs such as Downs-syndrome, profound autism, learning & behavioral disorders, authority issues, cerebral palsy, and even medically fragile conditions. Dr. Laz shows us that it can be done in a meaningful and fun way, as long as we become knowledgable and effective teachers, making the switch to a more student-centered approach. In this new book, Teach Me If You Can, Dr. Laz utilizes a variety of classroom-proven, motivational and exciting techniques to reach his most difficult students, including expressive arts therapies, experiential education, hands-on music and science, peer interactive learning, ropes course activities, black light theatre, and much more.
While the book combines theory along with practical solutions, it is much more than a textbook, as it contains many first-person stories from the “frontline” of the special education classrooms. The stories are touching, personal, often funny, and always inspiring, as Dr. Laz (as he is affectionately known) takes his students from their usual role of being passive observers to one of active participants. Dr. Laz uses a variety of exciting, motivational techniques, pulling out every trick in the book, to reach these hard-to-reach kids. He forms a “sing & sign” choir, where non-verbal students are taught American Sign Language to communicate to live music. Others with profound physical challenges use assistive technology and adaptive knee & head switches to run lighting and other visual effects. His students put on major drama productions for the entire community. Using their adaptive instruments and technology, students with profound special needs function as the actors, singers, dancers, joke tellers, lighting and stage hands, and even the show's M.C. - many doing so right from their wheelchairs! Dr. Laz then takes his performing troop on the road to visit senior centers, other schools and community centers throughout the state of Florida. His students become powerful self-advocates as they sensitize others that they too, given the opportunity, can make meaningful contributions to society. Dr. Laz goes on to win the “Teacher of the Year” award in 2007nfrom the Broward County public schools – the nation’s 6th largest school district, and his choir performs for thousands at much larger venues, such as the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. In 2008, Dr. Laz was inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame.
It’s an uplifting story, one that will benefit teachers, parents, university students in the field of education, and, in fact, anyone looking for an inspiring read. Dr. Laz is currently conducting a cutting-edge research study using these above-mentioned techniques that may revolutionize the field of profound special needs. In addition, Dr. Laz recently founded the H.E.ARTS Project, which utilizes the expressive arts for individuals with special needs.