April 7, 2017
It has been a crazy couple of weeks. Last week, I came down with the flu and the week prior, I was swamped with administrative paperwork! I am starting to feel better and some deadlines have passed.
Every month, I receive a magazine called, Educational Leadership written by ASCD (Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development). This month’s theme is “Differences Not Disabilities.” I will usually do a “picture walk”, read the titles of the articles, captions and quotes. Then if something catches my eye, I will read the entire article. One such article was entitled, “How Did You Get to Harvard?” by Thomas Hehir. On the first page, the opening says “How does a student who faces major obstacles to accessing the curriculum make it to Harvard? By developing the right learning strategies.” The author Hehir started teaching at Harvard sixteen years ago after a 30-year career as a special education teacher and administrator. Although the article focused on students with disabilities, I believe the information gained can be beneficial for any student.
Here are the highlights:
The majority of the students by the end of middle school had an understanding of their disability, knew how they learned and what tools and skills they needed to be successful.
The student, parent(s) and educators didn’t accept that their disability should limit his/her potential.
They had adults in their lives that believed in them!
At times, the students would receive specialized instruction however they also had full access to a challenging curriculum.
They made sure that some of their academic load focused on their strengths such as the arts, writing, oral debating, or athletics.
They developed strategies—how to effectively organize their writing; using text-to- speech technology; coping skills for anxiety; organizational tools.
They understood that there would be highs and low in their educational career but they set the bar high.
This four-page article just summarized the finding of the work done by Thomas Hehir. I am going to add his entire book to my summer reading list! I look forward to finding additional ways in which, even at the elementary level, we can have all of your students set their goals high no matter the obstacle!
Have a great weekend!