to Support a Child with Learning Differences
By Monica A. Consalvo
step we take leads us one step closer to the achieving of our OWN
educational ladders. Some go one step at a time, others skip a step,
some pause after each step, some race to the top, but we all get
there! We are all-unique and must celebrate our differences."
-Resource Room Philosophy, Monica A. Consalvo
a special educator, I do not view my students as having learning
disabilities but rather learning differences. All students have
differences. All students learn in a variety of ways. Some students
are visual, and love color and diagrams, while others learn best
by listening. Each student has a set of goals that they would like
to achieve. How they go about achieving these goals is the key.
a child is struggling, academically, it can be frustrating for both
the parent and child. The child may begin to "shut down"
because the task is too hard, the parent may struggle with how to
help their child, offering too much support at one moment and too
little at others. Parents and teachers need to be the "cheerleaders".
They need to encourage their child. Parents, teachers and the child
need to be part of the team. It is a united effort. Just like the
touchdown in football, the goal could never have been reached with
only one player.
need to view their students from the perspective of a total picture.
It is not simply one image or frame; it is not one test or one assignment
but how the child performs as a whole. This may be a hard philosophy
to own at first, especially when your child comes home with a low
test grade but your child's academic success is based on more than
this one test. The child, parent and teacher need to look at the
result and determine where to go from there.
pre-assessment required to ascertain what skills and knowledge the
child already has and what needs to still be acquired?
the child need more strategies and techniques to acquire the information
to be able to internalize the knowledge?
the students apply their knowledge? This
is a higher-level critical thinking step and may require more support,
especially for students with learning challenges. As education moves
into a more standards based approach we need to being to shift student
thinking and learning beyond the concrete, rote and memorization
phases to one of synthesizing and evaluating.
the child need a different method to express their awareness of
the subject material; i.e.: verbally responses or starting off with
a brainstorming web of pictures and small words to be used later
to build the essay?
can the classroom of today adapt to be one of inclusion rather than
exclusion when it comes to special education students?
can be handled in a classroom when teachers utilize performance-based
assessment. Students can be provided with a menu board or the requirements
for a given portfolio project and work at their own pace. Students
who require modifications to material can have the work adjusted.
Students who would benefit from enrichment could also have their
assignments adapted. These teaching methodologies cannot be used
for all lessons but can be used to handle diversity in the classroom.
role of the teacher in this type of classroom is one of a facilitator
who assists and guides instruction. The process is engaging for
both the student and teacher and encourages active learning.
outcomes far exceed the extra preparation time.
differentiated classroom environment might have students participating
in a lesson over a period of time. Block scheduling can accommodate
more learner diversity because the teacher has the opportunity to
meet with more students. Students also have the opportunity to move
at their own individual pace.
is cyclic. The focus shall be on embracing all the diversity and
differences in our classrooms.
day the future walks into my classroom
Monica A. Consalvo is a special educator in the Port Jefferson School
District in New York. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org