Rules of the Wrestling Room

Here is a video of Krause coaching! –> Rules of the Wrestling Room


C. (2013, October 16). 4 Rules of the YOUTH WRESTLING ROOM!!! Retrieved July 15, 2017, from

After interviewing my dad for my previous blog post, I began thinking a lot about sports, particularly the sport of wrestling, and how much I have seen it act as a vehicle for improving children’s self-confidence. My dad has a friend named Mike Krause, who has been named by many in the wrestling community “the best youth wrestling coach in the nation.” He travels the country putting on coaching clinics for youth wrestling coaches and running camps for young wrestlers. Coach Krause has a son with a disability and has an incredible knack for teaching wrestlers how to treat other kids with differences. In this video, you will see that Coach Krause is a very high energy man who keeps the kids constantly engaged with a kind of “call and response” method. He goes over the four rules of the wrestling room which are: “Pay attention”; “give 100%;” “try not to cry;” and “don’t talk when the coach is talking.” As the video goes on, you can hear the responses from the young athletes get louder and louder as their faces remained locked on Coach Krause’s.

From this video and from seeing Krause coach in person, I have learned that it is so important for people to be held accountable for their actions and to realize the impact that it has. At the end of the video, Krause makes all of the kids yell, “I’m a leader!” at the top of their lungs right before they jump into a practice. I also learned that confidence can be increased once an individual starts to believe that they are unique in some way. Krause tells the kids that “wrestlers are a different breed” and that he truly believes that he, himself, has super powers because he is a wrestler. This video perfectly contributes to and wraps up my content inquiry in that it provides inspiration for me to continue looking into what defines the constructs that I have been researching and also to take it a step further and start coming up with ways to connect my research to my teaching.


Interview with Dad


Brazil, J. (2017, July 14). Interview with Dad [Personal interview].

When I found out that I would need to find an in-person experiential resource for my blog, I was a bit dumbfounded as to what experience I could provide myself that would give me more insight into self-advocacy and/or self-confidence. Part of my research included finding some famous individuals in modern day history that have coped with disabilities. When I showed this to my instructor, she asked me if I personally knew any thriving adults with disabilities. This person does not have to be famous—just someone who has built a life to be proud of. She suggested that I interview one of these people for my experiential resource. The first person to come to my mind was my dad.

My dad, Jim Brazil, was born on December 4, 1965 and grew up in Castro Valley, California (where I was born). Around 2nd or 3rd grade, he was diagnosed with dyslexia. He remembers getting explanations from both his parents and his new special education teacher that he “sees letters and numbers backwards” such as the lowercase letters “d” and “b.” Other than that initial discussion, he does not remember having many meetings about his disability and special education services afterwards. My dad spent most of his time in school utilizing resource services.

I asked my dad what his confidence was like as a young child growing up with a learning disability. He said that back when he was in elementary school, things were much different. All kids in special education were kind of lumped together and “kids were cruel.” They saw him go into a different classroom for part of the day everyday and he remembers being teased a lot for this. He remembers feeling down on himself a lot and not feeling confident enough to do a lot of things. He says that things would have been a lot tougher had it not been for his parents’ support and their telling him that he can do things that he didn’t think he could do. Another thing that helped with his self-confidence was his participation in wrestling, which he started in about 2nd grade and continued all the way through high school. For one thing, he was never afraid of being physically bullied because he always knew he could defend himself in that way. Also, he learned a lot from wrestling that he feels could not have been taught to him in a classroom setting. The social skills involved with being on a team coupled with the personal accountability gained from being the only person with your opponent on a wrestling mat, he believes, helped him to become more self-confident.

As for self-advocacy, he remembers having to tell certain teachers that he needed more time on testing or that he needed questions read to him. Usually, they were willing to accommodate him, but every once in a while he got some “push-back.” When that happened, his special education teacher would take care of things for him. He remembers always feeling embarrassed about having to ask his teachers for these accommodations.

Today, my dad is a Tree Trimmer for the City of San Leandro and also a volunteer wrestling coach at one of our local middle schools. He has many hobbies that include hunting and fishing among other outdoor activities. He is an amazing father and a family-man all around. I had heard a lot of the information about his childhood with dyslexia, but never really thought to ask him how his adult life has been impacted by his learning disability. He reports that he still struggles a lot with reading and writing, though he feels that he excels at expressing himself in conversation. He does feel that his confidence wavers at times and admits to avoiding the things that he knows he will struggle with. Something I learned in this interview was a result of asking him whether he had experienced any barriers in his job due to his dyslexia. He said that up to this point, since a majority of his work is physical labor, he had not experienced any barriers. However, he expressed anxiousness over the possibility of going up for a promotion. The job that he would be advancing into involves a lot of paperwork. He says that this is a factor that could impact his decision to take the job. This experience has probably been the most beneficial to me in creating my Content Resource Collection. I feel lucky to have this built-in resource who can help me gain insight into the lives of individuals with learning disabilities and who can provide firsthand information about self-confidence and self-advocacy experiences.


Bullying and Students with Disabilities


Young, J., Dr. , Ne’eman, A., & Gelser, S. (2012). Bullying and students with disabilities . National Council on Disability , 1-6. Retrieved July 12, 2017.

This article was written to provide information about the prevalence of bullying specifically of students with disabilities and what can be done to reduce it. It starts by giving some background information about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and other special education laws that stress the legal obligation to provide inclusive education opportunities to students with disabilities. However, frequent bullying experiences students with disabilities continue to face show that schools are not always welcoming environments. The authors provide a literature review which discusses actual statistics in regards to this topic. Authors explain that there are many ways a student can qualify as a student with a disability under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and/or under IDEA. They go on to explain how districts may be legally responsible to protect students with disabilities from bullying behaviors under IDEA’s free, appropriate public education (FAPE) and least-restrictive environment (LRE) provisions. They provide some policy recommendations to effectively address this problem.

From this article, I learned that an IEP meeting serves as a good opportunity to help students develop self-advocacy skills to use when they feel that they are being bullied or harassed. I did not realize that this was an appropriate place to discuss these things, but now I know that I can utilize the meeting to also plan for how I, as an educator, can help protect students from bullying behaviors. I also learned the importance of notifying parents of incidents of bullying and harassment as soon as possible, whether their child is the perpetrator or the victim. This might be an important tool, especially for students that have communication-related disabilities/ difficulties who might not be able to provide their families with this type of information. This resource contributed to my research because it helped me to see how bullying can contribute to a student’s self-confidence and also how self-advocacy skills can help reduce the effects of bullying for a students. Prior to finding this resource I had been ignorant and had not considered looking into bullying as part of my Content Resource Collection for this topic.



Interview with Sharon O’Neil


O’Neil, S. (2017, July 9). Interview with Sharon O’Neil [Personal interview].

Sharon O’Neil is an Education Specialist who has worked primarily with the moderate/severe population. I was introduced to Sharon about five years ago during which time I was a TA in the special day class at my high school. At that time, Sharon was one of the teachers in the transitional program in Castro Valley. Although Sharon has since left the district, she was the perfect person to talk to as she has recently completed her doctoral program and she wrote her dissertation precisely about this topic! We met at Starbucks and she was very willing to give her insight. Sharon told me about how self-esteem can be increased through natural opportunities to make decisions. When an individual has the autonomy to make choices and indicate their desires, they feel that their dignity is being honored which leads to higher self-esteem.

A notion that I had that was reinforced in my conversation with Sharon is that self-confidence is very closely linked with self-advocacy. In order to advocate for yourself, you must be confident in your knowledge of yourself, your situation, and your rights while simultaneously having the means to express your message. From Sharon I learned that the latter (having the means to express your message) is usually the most difficult part for students with disabilities. Some students have an inability to communicate effectively (or at all). Furthermore, many students struggle with understanding social norms and how to express frustrations appropriately. This experience greatly contributed to my content inquiry in providing me with alternative insights about the two constructs from the perspective of a veteran teacher and of students with varyious levels of disabilities. Through this experience, I also feel as if I gained another mentor and form of support as a new teacher going into the field.

Self-Advocacy by Cheryl Tuttle and JoAnn Augeri Silva

Check out this cool infograph! –> Self-Advocacy Infographicself-advocacy

This resource helped me learn more about the importance of knowing how to navigate the media when it comes to self-advocacy. If teachers and/or administrators are not listening to students, it is imperative that they know how to organize their message into a powerful format and how to get the media involved. It also clarified for me the laws protecting people with disabilities in the workplace. This is an informational text that is easy to understand as it targets young people. It is a great resource to provide to adolescents and teens who are interested in helping themselves.

My Thirteenth Winter by Samantha Abeel

my thirteenth winter

Abeel, S. (2008). My thirteenth winter: a memoir. New York: Scholastic.


My Thirteenth Winter is a memoir written by Samantha Abeel about her lifelong struggle with a learning disability (dyscalculia). She describes initially being a very motivated and outgoing student and realizing, as she got older, that she was different from her classmates. She struggled greatly with simple tasks such as addition and subtraction, counting money, and telling time. She became very withdrawn and focused all of her effort on masking her disability, afraid that her teachers and classmates would find out that she was “stupid.” Abeel began having panic attacks related to her anxiety and embarrassment resulting from her disability. Eventually, she was assessed for special education services and did not qualify because she was so gifted in the subject area of English. Therefore, she did not enter special education mathematics until she was in middle school. Abeel thrived in writing and ended up publishing a book of poems by the time she was in high school. The book touched the lives of many people who were themselves struggling with disabilities or had students or children who were struggling. Abeel was invited to speak to audiences across the country and used her platform for advocacy purposes. The memoir follows Abeel into her college years where she experiences series of highs and lows related to anxiety, depression, and incredibly low self-confidence. Eventually, she is able to find tools and forms of support to help her make it through.

As I was reading this memoir, I could feel my heartstrings being pulled at. I suppose that I am biased, being an Education Specialist, however, I would recommend that all educators read it in order to gain insight into the life of a student who is considered both “special needs” and “gifted and talented.” From this creative work, I learned that for these kinds of students, as important as it is to get them the extra support that they need in the area that they struggle in, it is equally important to give them opportunities to “shine” in the subject area that they excel in. This also reinforced my knowledge of how important it is to reduce the stigma surrounding learning disabilities as much as possible so that students do not feel the need to hide it from their teachers. I find it also important to note that My Thirteenth Winter is a Schneider Family Book Award recipient. In my research, I discovered that his award is presented to an author or illustrator who effectively and artistically depicts the disability experience for child and young adult audiences. I was not aware of this award before, but having discovered it has contributed to my research in that I have now opened the door to an entire selection of powerful texts related to my content area of study.

Japanese Culture and the Philosophy of Self-Advocacy


Tsuda, E. (2006). Japanese culture and the philosophy of self-advocacy: the importance of interdependence in community living. British Journal of Learning Disabilities,34(3), 151-156. doi:10.1111/j.1468-3156.2006.00413.x

In 2006 there had been an increasing amount of self-advocacy groups forming in Japan for people with learning disabilities. Although most had been dissolved by this time, institutionalization was still practiced and was proving to be a political issue. The Japanese were starting to learn that self-advocacy groups can help people learn to live in the community so that institutions were no longer necessary. Authors conclude that it is important to think about how self-advocacy ideas mesh with the traditional Japanese collectivistic culture.

One thing I learned about in this article is the existence of Inclusive Japan, which is a parents’ organization that was established in 1952 and was started by three mothers of children with learning disabilities. It has since gone on to become a nationwide association of parents and has contributed greatly to the advancement of the status of people with LDs in Japan. For example, Inclusion Japan contributed to the establishment of a social welfare policy for people with LDs. Inclusion Japan supports the Japanese self-advocacy movement by providing workshops, seminars, and textbooks to self-advocates. Another thing that I learned is that many advocacy groups in Japan focus on recreational programs as main activities rather than politics. Although this resource was produced in 2006, I still found it to be helpful to my research because it has provided me with a perspective on the history and societal view of self-advocacy for people with learning disabilities in an entirely different country.