Special Education: Part 1

Special education has been in the news recently; so, I wanted to take this opportunity to push the conversation further . . .

Special education services are multi-faceted and multi-fold, they depend on the individual child and each individual child has individual needs. So, it doesn’t look the same for anyone in any given context.

When discussing special education, consider and remember the following:

Special education can begin in the very early ages and continue onto the university level, or it can be a portion of a person’s educational career.

Special education services can be:

  • pull-out; or,
  • push-in

Special education can require:

  • occupational therapy
  • physical therapy
  • speech therapy
  • educational therapy

Special education can take place in:

  • a traditional classroom
  • a special education classroom
  • a specialty school
  • a special program and classroom within a school

At the school level, special education is the responsibility of:

  • students
  • parents/families
  • educators
  • specialists
  • administrators

Often, in general discussions or in short segments on television, special education is not illustrated, defined, or understood to be a complex and elaborate system that benefits a wide-range of students.

When I listen, when I watch, when I converse with non-educators in particular, the vastness of special education is not comprehended, and if that is not understood then meaningful dialogue and solutions are not attainable.

Therefore, in our quest to see it funded, funded well, and funded in the future, we must augment the conversation to demonstrate that all students, even those not in special education, benefit and rise in a system that understands that all students deserve an education that offers them the chance to learn, and the opportunity to demonstrate that learning.

If you have questions, if you have concerns, I encourage you to ask and research. If you want to know more, I encourage you to take an in-depth look at your school, the schools in your neighborhood, and the schools in your district.

Special education is an important and integral component of our education system; it deserves more understanding, more research, and certainly more resources.

 

Monthly Advice–April

For the most part, this year, spring break is in April; therefore, I must advise you:

Enjoy your spring break.

Take more than a day, or a weekend, away from work. Enjoy more than a weekend’s worth of time off.

No lesson planning, no grading, no time in the classroom–absolutely nothing work related–for as much time as possible during this break. Take an actual break.

You have earned this time off, you have earned this break, so please, please make sure to enjoy spring break.

 

Teacher Tip #6

It’s just a test.

It seems that the end of February we start entering a delightfully misunderstood and stressful season: testing season.

There’s quarter tests and WIDA about this time of year. These are followed by state-standardized tests, which are then followed by the next set of quarter tests.

These state-standardized tests and quarter tests, if you’re in secondary, may overlap with PSATs, and special subject exams (think AP). There’s also, of course, every other normal test sprinkled in between all of these *big* *important* tests.

It doesn’t matter if you’re in elementary or secondary, there’s this near two-month testing window rapidly approaching and I’m here to remind you: It’s just a test.

I have fallen victim to the stress and I passed it onto my kids. Don’t do that. They’re already stressed, they already know that these things are a big deal. So, I implore you–remind them: It’s just a test.

  • It’s one day out of 180 this year.
  • It’s one day out of however many they have accumulated over the years.
  • None of these tests are measuring their kindness, their dedication, their hard work, their perseverance, or any number of far more important qualities and traits they possess as human beings.
  • Tests can be taken again.
  • Tests are singular snapshots; they do not measure every aspect of learning and growth.
  • Tests are subject to human and technological error.
  • Tests are like every other assignment–there will be multiple opportunities to show just how much they have learned; today, and this test, are not the only opportunity to demonstrate learning and growth.

Tests–state tests, district tests, exit exams–are important, but they’re not the most important determinant, measure, or indicator of educational excellence. Remember that, and remind your students too.