Tag Archives: learning

Equal vs. Fair- Changing Attitudes

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fair
If you are looking to revamp your class in 2014, let me suggest that you start by changing attitudes. The best classrooms I’ve been in offer differentiated instruction for ALL students based on individual abilities. To accomplish this you may have to change the atmosphere of your class by adjusting the attitudes of your students’. (And maybe even yourself?)

We live in a society that promotes equality for all. Kids grow up expecting to be treated EXACTLY the same way as the students sitting next to them.

I’m not opposed to equality. Equality is the foundation of equal access. Equal access is mandated by NCLB and means that EVERY student, no matter his or her ability, should have equal access to high quality education.

But in today’s inclusive classrooms, providing equal access in the form of accommodations and modifications is often seen as “unfair”. The practice of students (GT, ESL, Special Ed. etc…) leaving the General Ed classroom to receive services is becoming less and less common. Instead ALL students are staying in the General Ed (mainstream) setting to be educated. This means students who have never been exposed to these differences and teachers who may have never taught to these differences are now seeing what it takes for some students to even ACCESS the General Ed curriculum.

Now whether or not you agree with this shift is a debate for another time. The point of this post is that inclusion is our reality. Agree or disagree, if you want to be a good teacher you must start thinking about how you can address the diverse needs in your classroom. The way to do this is with differentiated instruction.

Differentiated instruction in today’s classroom is no different than it has been for the last 20 or more years. Good teachers have always looked at ability as the base of individualizing instruction. The difference in today’s classroom is that the range of student abilities is sometimes wider and there are a greater number of students who need accommodations and/or modifications to have equal access the General Ed curriculum.

The diversity in one class can sometimes be overwhelming. I’ve talked with lots of great teachers (both new and experienced) who get frustrated and down on themselves because there are so many needs in their classes and they don’t know how to address them all.

I don’t have a magic answer. And to be honest there is no ONE answer. But the best place to start is with differentiating your instruction. That can also be overwhelming and in my opinion the first step is the hardest. The first step is to change attitudes.

Differentiation starts with an understanding of equal vs. fair. I found the following statement on Pinterest with a link to this site:www.msfultzcorner.com I don’t where it originated.

I would post this in my classroom and review it regularly.

EQUAL vs. FAIR

Equal means the same.
I will not be treating you exactly the same way.

Being fair means that I will do my best to give each student what he or she needs to be successful.

What you need and what someone else needs may be very different.

I will always try to be FAIR but this means things won’t always feel EQUAL.

Start teaching your students NOW that you are going to challenge everyone and that means they won’t always use the same materials, work on the exact same assignment or be assessed in exactly the same way. But that’s OK, because everyone will be working toward success.

Differentiation is a shift in the way you structure your class, plan your lessons and teach your students. You can’t make that shift without changing the attitudes around EQUAL vs. FAIR.

There are a lot of challenges in education. If you became a teacher because you thought you’d work an 8-4 job and have all summer off; I bet you feel stupid now. Don’t get overwhelmed. Take one challenge at a time. Change one thing that isn’t working for you and keep moving forward.

Happy New Year!

Below are some great websites to learn more about differentiated instruction.

http://www.differentiatedinstruction.net/

http://www.caroltomlinson.com/

http://www.paulakluth.com/

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Here’s to a Fresh Start!

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appleSummer is almost over. Some are anxious to get back to school, back to the routine that they so comfortably fall into. Teachers ready to teacher, parents ready for kids to learn and yes some kids are even ready to get back to the pace of the school day. But some, teachers/parents/kids, don’t look at the school year with great expectations. There are many barriers that could kill a successful school year before it even starts.

1. Transition: Not everyone transitions smoothly into the school year. I’m not just talking about student either. Let’s start with teachers. Some teachers don’t even look at their classroom until the first day of in service. While others are up there weeks in advance preparing their rooms. It all depends on what makes them most comfortable. Parents, consider transition with your students. Some students may need to go visit the school a few times before the first day. Have a calendar on the frig counting down the days. Also, consider starting the routine of getting up earlier a few days before the BIG FIRST DAY. Then sometimes the transition issues are all with the parent. A good example of this is my sister who is sending her son to preschool for the first time. This is causing her some anxiety. The same transition strategies can be effect for adults. Put the big day on a calendar and count down, go see the classroom or school ahead of time and talk to the teachers, practice the change in routine.

2. Teachers: Get to know your students ASAP. (I mean before they even set foot in your room!) Find out who is in Special Ed, 504, RTI, GT, ELL, etc… so you can start a plan for your classroom. Talk to the teachers from last year, pull their permanent file, do some digging. Remember, when thinking about accommodations and modifications, accommodations are meant to level the playing field and modifications change the game. Accommodations do NOT change content, only make it more accessible. Modifications DO change content and MUST be aligned with IEPs. The IEP team or ARD committee make these decisions.

3. Parents: Get to know your child’s teacher. Keep up with what’s going on in class. Make sure your child is doing their homework and getting the help they need. Be friendly to the teacher. Remember they have a WHOLE class of kids. If you have an issue, start by discussing it with the teacher first.

A new school year is a time for new beginnings. Start fresh, with a fresh outlook and a fresh attitude. Good luck and have a great year!

Teacher Trainings

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While students enjoyed the summer vacation many teachers spend days building their teaching skills. Summer is a time for professional development and growth for those of us in education. This is one reason why it is so frustrating to hear, “Teaching is easy, you get all summer off”. Teachers really don’t get ALL summer off.
But professional growth doesn’t stop when the kids enter the classroom. No, that’s when it just begins. Teachers get a new set of students every year and every group brings its own trials and rewards. So this year during the first week while kids are adjusting to teachers and schedules, teachers are also adjusting to kids. On day one teachers start to calculate and make an ever growing list of what they need to educate this diverse population of students. So as you embark on a new school year, let me say Good Luck! You do this for a reason and YOU make the difference.

Now, to offer what I can to help prepare for this new world of new students, here’s a list of some upcoming workshops offered through Region 15 Education Service Center that may help you grow, learn and teach.

9/20- For the new Special Ed teacher’s out there, this is a basic overview of PLAAFPs and IEPs. It is an introduction course designed to give you the knowledge needed to feel comfortable writing PLAAFPs and IEPs, but also to prepare you for the two day more intense workshop offered later in the semester.

9/25- MAKE AND TAKE!! All students need social skills not only to be successful in school, but to be successful in life. But with everything you are required to teach, how do you fit in social skills as well? This workshop will look at easy and effective ways to address social skills on a daily bases as well as specific strategies for your students with more challenging behaviors. You will get a chance to make and take everything needed to implement these strategies the very next day!
You will walk away with a cool down kit, visual timer, brain break games, reward cards, supplies for visual schedules, check in cards, social skills lesson plans and materials to teach the lessons.

10/21 Reading Accommodation Assessment: The PAR or Protocol for Accommodations in Reading is a FREE tool that helps assess the need for reading accommodations. Do students need accommodations? Do they need a text reader or an adult reader? How do I show students what they need? This FREE tool can help with all these questions. ANYONE can give this!! YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE A DIAG OR READING SPECIALIST! This workshop will show you how to use this tool and provide an opportunity to practice.
You will get a bound copy of the PAR assessment that you can use to test with IMMEDIATELY!

11/19 20 Strategies for ANY student!! Teaching is no longer one size fits all. As more students are moved into inclusive settings, teachers face new challenges with how to address the needs of GT, Special Ed, ESL, ELL, slow learners and average performing students all at the same time! This workshop will look at 20 strategies that are effective for engaging and teaching ALL students in ANY classrooms. We will also look at how to imbed these strategies into your differentiated instruction.
You will walk away with Marcia Tate’s book, “Worksheets Don’t Grow Dendrites,” and the confidence to implement a new engaging strategy the VERY NEXT DAY!

To register or for more information click Region 15 ESC.
Have a Great Year!