Too often, independence is an elusive concept in our schools.
Because we believe we are accomplishing more when we provide students on IEPs with one-to-one adult supports who scribe for students and read the grade level material when the student is unable. What results? Unfortunately, learned passivity and DEPENDENCE.
Is this FAPE, Free, Appropriate Education? If a student doesn't get it when the adult reads the material to him, how likely are they to ask the adult to repeat it? How appropriate is it when a student never has the opportunity to produce written work independently?
How can we overcome this? A paradigm shift in how we view disability and accommodation must occur:
1. It is time to end the remediation vs. compensation battle and declare a truce. The emphasis on remediation at the expense of accommodation must stop. Instead, remediation MUST be COMBINED with compensation to accommodate for learning challenges if our students are to feel a sense of competence, mastery and independence.Hand your students the brass ring of independence. There is no better time than today.
2. Recognize the inherent disability that exists in the curriculum and instruction when students with learning struggles can not access the curriculum using traditional methods. Although no research exists that supports the superiority of textbooks, lecture based and paper based methods, the majority of classroom instruction depends upon these methods of instruction. Time to stop blaming the student when our methods disable their performance and participation.
3. Recognize that there is no better time to be an educator. Access to the tools and strategies are readily available as never before. Tools exist that remove the obstacles to learning, many are free, others are commercially available.
4. Understand that students learn differently, that a one-size-fits all approach does NOT work. Instead, incorporate Universal Design for Learning principles. UDL which proproses that learning occurs when there are multiple methods of engagement, representation and expression. Excellent resources are available at cast.org including the UDL Curriculum Self-Check that helps you apply principles that engage and support ALL learners.