Anyone and everyone can learn. We might not learn on the same level. We might not learn at the same pace. But we can all learn. No matter what our IQ or our experiences or our abilities, we all have the capacity to learn.
I was recently at an Admissions, Review, Dismissal (ARD) meeting with a friend. It was a very difficult meeting. The staff members didn’t see eye to eye with my friend and me. There was a lot of talk about general education time and special education time.
Most of the staff thought this student did not belong in the general education classroom. They thought the best place for him was in the life skills classroom. This is a separate Special Education classroom. They thought he needed to work on “pre-requisite skills.” They didn’t think he was ready for 5th grade content.
When asked, the general education teacher (who has a background in special education) said he didn’t think the general education classroom was the right placement. He said, “He can’t learn what the other 5th graders are learning.”
After I picked my mouth off the floor, I calmly said, “Did you just say he can’t learn? Everyone can learn. So you’re saying, even with accommodations and modifications, he can’t learn?”
Here’s the problem. None of us learn in the same way. Disability or not, we all have different learning styles. It is important that the teachers and staff understand this. They need to adjust how they teach to meet the needs of all students. When content is modified, it changes what the student is expected to learn.
For instance, instead of learning all the science words in a unit, the student might only need to learn five words with an easy definition. They might even use pictures instead of words. This is not “dumbing down the curriculum.” This is teaching to the student’s level and their understanding.
Accommodations, which change how the student learns, are also needed. For instance, if the student can’t write, they could give the answers out loud. Not only is this good teaching, but when written in the Individualized Education Program (IEP), teachers must follow it.
We need to make sure that our children with disabilities have the same chance as every other child. This includes making sure they have access to the general education curriculum.
Because they have a disability does not mean they can’t learn. Anyone and everyone can learn.
Children with disabilities have a right to the educational services they need to help them learn.
School doesn’t start or end when the bell rings. The student experience should include access to and participation in school-sponsored or related activities. This includes extracurricular and co-curricular activities.
Categories: Education & Schools
Critical thinking and problem-solving skills go beyond academics. Everyday life provides opportunities to apply these skills. During my son’s educational career, a lack of critical thinking and problem-solving skills was often noted in his Individualized Education Plan paperwork. While he may struggle with these skills academically, he solves problems all the time in his daily life.