By Lynn Samartino
Every year that I teach special education, I think about the word normalcy more and more. As teachers, we are highly impacted by differences and when something veers from the norm. Some of us look at the difference as a burden or extra work, when instead we should see it as a time to evolve and learn how we can improve our daily regimens.
How can we best meet the needs of our diverse learning students?
We must embrace a collective sensitivity to diverse learners by evolving education to bring a sense of normalcy to our classrooms and our students’ lives.
Diverse learners are born with or develop a disability. While they might have some life difficulties, we can provide them with a high quality education that includes accommodations and modifications to make life and learning easier. Bringing comfort and a sensitive nature to these students’ education plans can also alleviate some of the social stigmas surrounding the special education student.
By Maureen Powers
The first parent-teacher conference of the year is a critical time for engaging your students’ parents. Not only do you set the tone for educational expectations and progress, you can ask the parents for their help at home and encourage parent engagement.
When planning the parent-teacher conference, first address the attendance and preparation needs. Then think of creative approaches to the meeting to make it more effective and memorable.
By Lynn Samartino
As a middle school teacher, I’ve encountered many types of students. Some start the school year eager to learn, while others would rather be outside the classroom hanging with their friends. Some are distracted by added responsibilities, like taking care of siblings, chores, or working to bring income to the family. It’s difficult to reach those students who aren’t very motivated to learn and need direction, but I’ve developed some strategies to help them learn the value of their education.
During the first month of school (and even before then), I review data to drive my instruction and observe my new students to understand their work habits, individual needs, and learning styles. Usually, students do well with the initial activities and events until the curriculum is implemented: participating in class, completing lesson activities or projects, and homework assignments.
The rigorous work is difficult for them, which is a positive thing. I want to challenge my students to increase their cognitive abilities. Through these challenges, I can identify students who don’t want to work because the work is “too hard,” are just doing the minimum or sometimes no work at all, by the lack of work turned in, lack of participation, excuses given for not completing work, or playing around in class. Once I identify those students, I try to awaken their desire to learn with a combination of these strategies.