Special Education: Part 2

Students that qualify for special education can fall into a number of categories. While the most severe and visible categories of special education are usually displayed and discussed, as noted in my first post, special education is broad, complex, and includes a number of services for each individual’s circumstances.

When I speak with non-educators, or when I have watched the news, the students who need special education services are limited in understanding–the range and diversity of students is not evident in the discussion, nor adequately represented in any forum.

Therefore, let me list some categories, demographics, and populations to illustrate the wide-range of need, services, and students that qualify for special education:

  • blind/visually impaired
  • permanent and temporary physical disability
  • deaf & hard of hearing
  • speech impairment
  • language delay
  • specific learning disability–i.e. dyslexia
  • intellectual disability
  • multiple disabilities
  • other health impairment (the all-encompassing category)

Within each of these categories, there is an abundance of diversity. For instance, five students with language delays in the 2nd grade can have 5 different levels of severity in their language delays due to previous support at home and at school, as well as other factors such as the underlying cause of their language delay.

Technically, IDEA has 13 broad categories for special education (autism, blindness, deafness, emotional disturbance, hearing impairment, intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury, visual impairment). That’s not to say that these categories cannot overlap, will not change over time, or be renamed. Our understanding of health and education is constantly evolving, and so are the labels and practices tied to them.

These categories do not touch on a student’s gender, age, primary language, first language, religious orientation, place of birth, citizenship, family structure, or overall schooling experience. All of these individual factors influence the best placement, ideal service, and the development of academic goals.

The point in all of this is to emphasize that special education services are incredibly vast because the range, diversity, needs, and abilities of students is equally vast. So, in the next conversation on funding, on who will teach what, on where students should be placed, on what constitutes special education, on who needs special education, etc. extend that discussion as far as possible–because that’s how far special education extends.

Monthly Advice–May 1

I know it’s the first week of May, but I need everyone to start planning for summer now.

Write a list of things for families to do over the summer, local and easy recommendations, to inspire and ignite creativity and learning over the summer.

Recommend free options as much as possible so that all students can participate and see themselves as active participants in their own learning. Start now, ask around for more ideas, build a nice long list.

Need inspiration? Here are some ideas:

  • Go on a walk every day, talk the entire time (talking is learning, talk about anything your child desires)
  • Bake/cook with your child–conversations around food are filled with vocabulary, reasoning, and mathematical computation
  • Visit the zoo
  • Help around the house–sorting clothing, setting the table, sweeping, etc. help children learn responsibility, practice academic learning, and acquire life skills
  • Take kids to the grocery store–have your child find ingredients, discuss possible recipes, weigh food, etc.
  • Visit a museum, visit many museums
  • Sign-up for a summer reading challenge at the local library
  • Get some art & craft materials from the Dollar store and make something beautiful
  • Learn a new skill: embroidery, sewing, knitting, crocheting, etc. (find a YouTube video and go for it!)
  • Watch TedTalks, documentaries, and other programs that are age-appropriate and educational/spark discussion
  • Do something athletic: basketball, running, walking, skateboarding, baseball, etc.
    • Gross motor skills, fine motor skills, interpersonal & intrapersonal abilities are developed during these experiences
  • Join a summer program–swim class, recreation class, summer camp, etc.

This list is not complete. It includes items that span the K-12 spectrum. Some ideas require parental approval, supervision, and added effort. Some ideas are easily left to the child. This list is meant to be a springboard for a personalized list for your students as they embark on their summer journey–remember even though classroom learning has ended, their life is filled with learning opportunities and they should seize each moment to grow and learn.

Teacher Appreciation 2019

Teacher Appreciation Week is one week away!!

May 6-10, 2019

If you’re not a teacher, or if you’re the teacher involved in planning Teacher Appreciation Week, here are some celebration suggestions:

  • Thank you cards from your child/students
  • Thank you card from yourself–find that long lost teacher, and thank them
    • We all have one teacher we can recall with great love; find them and tell them
  • Encourage teachers to thank one another at their school–teachers teach and mentor each other constantly, that kindness and collaboration should be celebrated
  • Volunteer at your local school/get extra volunteers at your school
  • Go to a local coffee shop, restaurant, or any other business–ask them to donate a gift card, discount, or service to teachers; or, have them offer something special during Teacher Appreciation Week at your school
  • Bring coffee and bagels one morning to your local school

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This is just a small list, but it’s a start–if you have any ideas, or success stories, make sure to share them too!

Signing Day: How to Celebrate HS graduates

In Henrico, Virginia, USA, Henrico’s Career & Technical Education program, has a special, one-of-a-kind, celebration:

Letter of Intent Signing Day

On their website, and in the news, this school, and this program, believe that high school graduates who are going to college, or going to play at the collegiate level, are not the only students worth praise and recognition; upon graduation, “students entering the workforce with benefits that include, but not limited to, great pay, health benefits, retirement benefits, and even receiving continuing education benefits from their employer also deserve recognition.”

This year, on April 23, 2019, today, the event is scheduled to take place. It’s time to celebrate, and it’s time to consider replicating this ceremony at your nearest high school.

We have an urgent skills gap to fill in our country. We have great jobs, with great benefits and stability through all economies, going unfilled. Any person willing to learn a skill, and go to work, should be applauded. Much love to Henrico for recognizing a segment of students and graduates long underappreciated.