Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Everyone Gets to Play

baseballIn The Visually Impaired Kid in the Outfield from Special Education Law Blog, Jim Gerl writes,

“My Dad organized a league so that I could play.  Pretty cool, huh?  He was the coach of our team.  One of the rules he established was that anybody who came to the practices and followed the rules got to play in the games.  It seemed fair.”

This made me think about my classroom and the students in the class. In my special education class, my students had good attendance. I didn’t usually have the truancy problem that many of my colleagues had. Since some of the students rode the special education bus, they were less likely to be absent. Other students were driven to school by their parents so they tended to be at school regularly.

Coming to school regularly was just like showing up for practices and playing in the game. I needed to make sure that I gave each student the attention that they deserved. I heard other teachers commenting about students who slept in their class or did not participate and the teachers just ignored them. I feel this is just another way of not letting them play the game. I need to engage these students in learning the best way that I can.

Many of my students told me that when they are in general education classes, they are treated like they are invisible. Since many times my students would have the wrong answers, they did not try very hard in these classes. Even though many teachers felt like they were being sensitive to my students by not calling on them, my students felt like they were being excluded. When I heard about this, I decided it was time to call a meeting. Both sides needed to communicate better in order for my students to be more successful.

When I called the meeting, I explained the situation from both sides to all of the participants as best as I could. Then I would let each side expand on my explanation if they needed to. Since the students didn’t tell how they felt to the teachers, how could the teachers know this? And since the teachers felt like they had been doing the right thing, how could they know that the students felt invisible?

Now that everything was out in the open, we needed to discuss what to do about this. We needed to come up with a plan of action for the student. Input from the student was very important at this stage so the student wouldn’t feel invisible during the planning. First we needed to find out why the student had difficulty learning the material and see if we could come up with strategies to help the student. We also needed to help the teacher find ways to assess the student’s knowledge and still be sensitive to the student’s disability. The teacher needed to be commended for trying to be sensitive to the student and not be put on the defensive.
I think this communication and team planning would really help the student be successful in the classroom. Once everything is out in the open, everyone would be able to be a team player. Since the student and the teacher “show up for practice,” it is only fair that both get to play the game!

How would you handle this situation? Please share.

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).
Original image: 'Ball Impact. UNF Baseball vs. Florida Gulf Coast University'

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