Sunday, June 23, 2013

Focusing on Teaching

“I am not a teacher, but an awakener.”  -  Robert Frost

            When researching education and its approaches or strategies, one might be overwhelmed.  What do best-practices actually mean?  Although researchers strive to remove ambiguity from their research, data, for the most part, reinforces the researcher’s theory or approach.  As an educator, how does this affect your teaching and classroom’s environment?  In this endeavor to propel to integrate technology into K-12 curricula and classrooms, how do educators focus their teaching?

            At the end of the 2012 – 2013 school year (the 4th 9 weeks), my students started using their learning disability as their excuse for not learning the material and meeting expectations.  My students began quoting their Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) modifications and accommodations.  Instead, they wanted to complete simple worksheets and stop implementing their reading, research, and writing skills.   They believed that because they received various levels of special education services, each one of them was entitled to pass Resource English due to their disabilities and because it was a special education class.  In my search for redirecting my students, I asked myself, “Is it wrong for a special education student to fail a Resource class?  And, when does his or her disability provide a student free passage?”  James Baldwin once said, “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”  As an educator, what behaviors were my students imitating?

            In refocusing my teaching, there were some key elements that I must not overlook in my journey to becoming a top notch master educator.  The key elements are reflection of students’ performance, reflection of my performance, identify specifically what the I need students to learn from each lesson, and the students’ product to demonstrate higher Bloom’s Taxonomy.

            My students and I had a “Real Talk” discussion about their purpose for coming to school, the lack of or benefits for coming to my classroom, and the level of expectations.  We discussed the differences of being lazy verses their learning disabilities and why their accommodations, disabilities, and modifications are not excuses for them to use to get over in life.

            In my final reflection of focusing my teaching, I wonder if the special education services hinder students.  I concur with anyone who states that students who are multi-disabled, moderately to severely intellectually disabled, will benefit from special education services.  But, I am speaking of the students who are developmentally delayed and have difficulty catching up with their peers academically.  And, is the current implementation of Resource classrooms and Inclusion benefiting those students or embarrassing them and causing them to be bullied?  These are few questions that districts, administrators, and educators need to answer when designing the structure of the classrooms or implementing Common Core Standards.  The bottom line is that Special Education should never be an afterthought when educating any generations.