Monday, March 25, 2013

Mind Changer

“The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.”  B.B. King

           In response to a comment from another blog “Reforming Education”, an individual requested that I provide concrete suggestions and implementations of restructuring the resource room and/or purpose.  In my personal professional opinion, Resource Special Education teachers’ current duties are to assist students in completing the General Education teachers’ assignments, the classroom manger in an inclusion setting, or the in-house substitute teacher.  With Common Core providing an admirable platform, it is acceptable to say the dynamics of the resource room and teaching methodology must shift in the 21st century to accommodate the educational demand.
In a very informal case study of twenty-five English resource students, the processes of changing how my resource room functions began during the 2011-2012 school year.  However, the major changes occurred during 2012-2013 school year.  The scope of the students’ disabilities ranges from specific learning disabilities to very mild mental retardation and range in age from thirteen to nineteen years old.  The background of my students’ lives varied from single parent to racially mix and to adopted families’ homes. 
How did I change the expectations of my students?
The first thing that must change is the Resource teacher’s mindset of his or hers abilities and purpose for teaching.  As it is written by the Apostle Paul in Romans, “…transform your mind by the renewing of the right spirit…”  Instead of having a group of students working on several different skills as the same time, elementary resource teachers should develop flexible groups based on the concepts that need to be taught.  Yes, this means that members of the flexible groups may and should change according to the students’ needs or deficiencies. 
How to determine who belongs in which flexible groups?
Flexible groups can be determined by students’ data.  Elementary resource teachers can use curriculum based assessments or achievement gap profiles.  Then, the resource teacher must design and teach lessons based on that data.  Now, the resource room aspects or appearances mirror that of the general education classroom.  Simply stated, the resource room imitates and is parallel to the general education classroom.
In designing the lesson plan, a technology performance- based lesson appears to be the most appropriate style of lesson for the newly designed resource room.  A technology performance-based lesson provides the maximum amount of adaptability in the lesson and assessment opportunities based on specific rubrics.  The specific rubrics must explain the expectations clearly and distinctly for the students to meet the optimal performance requirements.
In changing the resource teachers’ mindset and purpose for being an educator, staff members, building administrators and special education directors will slowly begin to change their perceptions or ideologies about the resource room’s learning environment.  Note that this transformation or restructuring starts with the purpose of the resource teacher not from upper administration.


  1. I agree with the core of this article, but I don't see the all important IEP mentioned. In my experience the IEP is what dictates what the Resource students should be working on, data should be carefully kept to document progress and new assessments might result in new IEP's. this makes the learning situation less flexible than described in the blog.

  2. Hello Ms. Kramer,

    The IEP is a guide. And yes, an IEP has goals that need to be assess. However, do you believe that you can teach that student more than what is on that IEP? I know you can. It is all about transforming your mindset to meet this generation needs. Do some research on divergent learning.

    Thank you for your comments.

    1. I always taught more than the IEP, but nowadays many times it becomes a true challenge since next to the IEP are the State test requirements which also dictate what needs to taught. Years ago my Resource room looked a lot like the one in your blog, but with all the extraneous demands it had become very much like the regular classroom on a lower, "try to catch up" level. I did retire from this situation and I have my private practice teaching students with Reading (dyslexia) problems. I am so much happier!

  3. Hello! I believe your heart is in the right place when it comes to education of SWD-student's with disabilities. We need to be cognizant of the IEP, but we need to strive to encompass more solid skill building. I'm all for generating curiosity in the classroom/resource room via scientific inquiry. After all, we are all curious about the way things work. Learn fractions by baking/measuring out ingredients... Learn about chemical reactions by showing what happens when combining baking soda/vinegar or mentos/diet coke. I teach pre K sped and use the static electricity experiment: blow up a balloon, rub it on your head-creating static electricity hold the charged balloon over a plate of pepper. Kazam! You have inspired a pre k child to continue to be curious and wonder about his/her surroundings. They will pay attention to you, too!

  4. Seane, I can not help but feel discouraged by your comments"Resource Special Education teachers’ current duties are to assist students in completing the General Education teachers’ assignments, the classroom manger in an inclusion setting, or the in-house substitute teacher." Though this may be today's norm, this was never the intention. I have very successfully team taught in general ed. classrooms to ensure services to the IEP students. In the beginning it always takes a lot of compromise between teachers, but once the rhythm is formed the potential for enhancing the learning environment is limitless with all students benefiting.

    Technology is an incredible tool that enables individual achievement that typically is easily measurable. However!, technology does not teach young people to interact appropriately, it does not assist in successful relationships and it certainly does not enhance conflict resolution skills. In other words, technology does not, and I presently believe, it can not develop our children into the kind of adults that are emotionally successful.