Who are diverse learners and how can we bring normalcy to them?

Who are diverse learners? How can we bring normalcy to them? Three children put a puzzle together in the image.

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.

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The Security of Routines in the Classroom

The Security of Classroom Routines | A row of children sitting in desks raise their hands.

By Sandra Braceful-Quarles

Your alarm clock goes off and you hit the snooze button. At least that’s what you meant to do. 30 minutes later, you’re off to a late start. There’s no time to pick up coffee or eat breakfast. You at least want to make it to work on time. There you can attempt to readjust and resume the remaining part of your schedule.

At the end of the day, you can reboot and get back to your regular routine, which you welcome because it helps you navigate and creates a sense of security that you need to survive the day.

Now imagine students in your class who may or may not have a regular routine to follow outside of school. The importance and impact of a regular routine in the classroom are now magnified exponentially since your students are likely too young to have the skills to make the adjustments that you did on their own.

The National Education Association (NEA) knows that well-taught routines provide smooth, uninterrupted class operation, which saves large amounts of time and puts the focus back on learning. If you think about it, you’re bestowing much more than a procedure for your students to follow. You’re teaching them navigation skills, developing a sense of security and trust, and extending the routines they have at home.

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Talk to Them

Think about what a parent had to go through to get their child to school on time today. Now talk to them. YOU: Your Child's First Teacher Parent Engagement Program

As educators, we have a lot to juggle in a day. So much so that we may not take the time to plan effective communication with a student’s parent.

Spend one minute thinking about what that parent had to go through to get their child to school on time. Remind yourself of your own struggles this morning.

Now talk to them. See how your communication approach changes. Your continued patience and understanding can lead to a more meaningful and effective partnership with that parent. And a better partnership means better students.

These are the kinds of conversations and strategies we have with educators in our YOU Program Training Workshop. We know that effective parent engagement leads to student achievement and we want to work with your school and district to show you how.