In Curb cut theory applied to education from Blue Skunk Blog by Doug Johnson talks about how curb cuts have benefited more people than just wheelchair users. Then he asks,
“Might this curb cut theory also apply to educational practices? Might interventions we use with our struggling learners benefit every child in a school?”
My husband and I have argued about this for many years. When I talked about having IEP meetings to meet the needs of my students, he always asked why isn’t the school meeting the needs of all of the students? I didn’t have an answer for him then or now.
I was so excited when Universal Design for Learning(UDL) came out because this was something that all teachers could use for all students. But the problem I see over the years is that teachers are coming up with excuses about why they can’t/won’t use this strategy.
During my graduate courses that I teach, I’m requiring that all of my students use UDL when planning their lessons.
I hope with practice that more and more of my students (the teachers) will make this a habit. Instead of having to make a conscious decision to meet the needs of all students, it becomes ingrained and done naturally.
Growing up, I saw too many students expected to fit the cookie cutter mold. Those who didn’t fit the mold, was either ridiculed or ignored. Teachers weren’t surprised when these students failed and focused only on the ones who fit the mold. There were times that I struggled and felt bad about myself because I felt like I was the only one struggling. This meant that I wasn’t like everyone else and was afraid that the teacher might ignore or bring attention to my differences.
When I became a teacher, I was shocked to see many of my colleagues continuing this practice. I saw students in general education classes whose self concept plummeted when they didn’t fit the norm. I couldn’t be involved because I was a special education teacher and it was hard to watch this from the sidelines.
I don’t think that teachers plan on being this way but many are teaching the way they were taught. It is time to stop teaching that way and teaching the way we wish we were taught.
We shouldn’t just be meeting the needs of special education students. We should be meeting the needs of all of the students and if we aren’t trying, then someone needs to stop and ask why.
What do you do in your classroom to meet everyone’s needs? Please share.