My Mind is on Special Education
This week I had the privilege of speaking with two special education teachers about their feelings of hopelessness and sadness with a system they feel is failing students with disabilities. In their words, they are expected to hold their students to the same standards as their regular education counterparts and are discouraged from doing what they deem necessary to meet their students where they are. For some time now it has been my belief that special education teachers should be allowed autonomy for meeting students’ needs and helping them progress towards the grade level standards. Unfortunately, at least at my school, teachers feel pigeon-holed by grade level standards and revert to teaching from the textbook and teaching by telling. Without the proper resources and mindset, it's easy to give into assumptions about the learning capabilities of students with disabilities.
That’s what makes this presentation by Andrew Gael and friends so amazing. It challenges you to consider both your assumptions and mindset about student learning. Within this presentation various strategies are shared from real classrooms with real students. (I stress this because these aren't hypothetical ideas.) I can only imagine how engaged teachers were as they watched this presentation, as reading through the slides made me want to scream, “Students with disabilities can do math!”
This post and this post by @Mathtechy explain how she has applied her learning from the book From Patterns to Algebra in her special education classroom. These posts provide even more evidence about the effects of resources and mindset on student success. From these posts it is safe to say her classroom does not reflect the "one inch deep, one inch wide" dilemma discussed in this post by @bkdidact. It is also backed up by this article from TERC.
Those two special education teachers and I ended our conversation with this statement, “Be sad, but not hopeless. Use the sadness to be the change you want to see.” To engage in the discuss about supporting students with disabilities, noin #SwDMathChat every 2nd and 4th Thursday at 9pm.
Written by Jenise Sexton (@MrsJeniseSexton)