Over twenty years ago, while a graduate student at St. Louis University, I was enrolled in a neurology class. During a lunchtime conversation a coworker of mine, also a special education teacher, asked, "Why are you taking that?" I answered that it was required for a Master's in Special Education. His question struck me as both typical and odd. On the one hand, most educators are not required to learn neurology, so his inquiry was understandable. On the other hand, all learning takes place in the brain.
We're only human! Regardless of our role or professional station, we are all subject to our human shortcomings. Even the most knowledgeable, caring and competent individuals make mistakes. In relation to this inescapable truth (the bad news), there is also some good news: Errors in judgment often follow patterns which allow us to use strategies that can prevent poor decisions or bring them to light before they can do significant or lasting harm.
Preschool education, and preschool special education in particular, is conflicted and confused at the present time. With accelerated academic rigor and high level expectations in the upper grades, there has been increased academic focus placed on children in preschool in order to get them “ready” for elementary school. That, in itself, is not a bad thing. However, preschool curriculum cannot overlook or skim over all areas of development, particularly social-emotional development in favor of academics.
My recent trip to the Chicago for the annual TASH Conference gave me the opportunity to talk to others about inclusive practices in schools across our country and beyond. The experience underscored a reality that I was aware of, but had not thought of recently: Inclusion varies significantly from country to country, state to state, and school to school. Despite wide variance in practices, the struggle toward meaningful inclusion and equal opportunity for students with disabilities continues everywhere.
There has been a dramatic increase of non-native English speakers immigrating to the United States and it is changing the school-age population. The National Clearing-house for English Language Acquisition (NCELA) reported that from 1995-2005 the population of English Language Learners (ELLs) in public schools in the United States grew by more than 60%, while the general school-age population only grew by 3% (Karathanos, 2010).
By Heather Gray, M.S., CCC-SLP, ATP
Did you know it is estimated that less that 10% of people who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) can read and comprehend beyond a 2nd grade level (Erickson, 2003)? Reading is a crucial life skill, important not only for education and employment purposes, but also as a leisure activity. Can you imagine a day without reading text messages, emails, magazines, or curling up with a good book?
I sometimes hear people say, "We shouldn't be teaching to the test!". I think that's an interesting comment in many ways. Teaching to the test is simply poor teaching. No quality educator would advocate for superficial learning simply so that students can take another test. That's not real learning - not the kind that we should want for our students. Does that mean that I don't believe that we should be teaching those things that are 'on the test'? Not at all. Let me explain.
We now live in a world where information is at our fingertips, but understanding is often superficial. It has never been more critical that our students acquire the literacy skills they need to create their own meaning from a wide range of complex texts. Perhaps this is why increased text complexity is so heavily emphasized in the Common Core State Standards. Students will be expected to read, discuss and write about texts at higher levels across the curriculum.
Faulty thinking can can persist for years if unchecked, and undermine efforts to improve your school system. Bust these myths and put your organization on the road to meaningful improvement!
6. Mandating is leadership.
5. Organizational change is relatively simple.
4. One presentation can change your organization.
3. Professionals don't have the same 'needs' as other learners.
2. Individual learning will naturally translate into organizational learning.