Teaching & Instruction
Teaching and effective instruction for students with learning disabilities requires specialized knowledge in the areas of spoken language, reading, writing, and math. This section contains readings that reflect knowledge of best practices and evidence based instruction within each area.
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A nueropsychologist and former middle special education teacher lists the qualities of an ideal teacher for kids with learning disabilities. "I am optimistic," he says, "for I have been to the classroom (hundreds of them, in fact) and there is light."
Thanks to all our readers who responded to the question; "What makes a good teacher?"
This month we change course as we learn more about teaching students with LD and ADHD. There are not enough special education teachers to meet demand. We wondered what a student whose goal is to become a special education teacher thought about her goal after working in a school as an intern for one semester. We also wanted to know more about special education programs in an inner city school. We contacted a supervising long-time special education teacher from Washington, D.C. Public Schools. She suggested we inteview Rachael, an intern who "has excellent classroom rapport with the students and whose goal was to become a special education teacher." Our interview with Rachael follows.
Special education students need to be convinced often of their capabilities and need to try out new skills with the benefit of a safety net. The greater their belief in the likelihood of their success, the greater their effort is likely to be. That increased effort generally will result in greater success, leading to greater effort. Once that cycle can be established, student achievement is more likely guaranteed. Following are two of the student success stories from this year.
As the parent of a learning disabled student, I want to share my experiences with you. Sometimes I would be very unhappy with my son. He would not attend classes and would not complete his assignments. We always seemed to be arguing over his school work.
A quality program is so dependent on the excellence of the teaching staff…that really is the key. It is important to hire really good teachers. Fairfax County hires high need teachers, such as special education teachers, under early contracts to make certain they get excellent teachers. Fairfax County also has a good track record in that our students are doing well compared to national standards as well. This helps attract great teachers.
Motivation is key to school success. Just as the actor asks a director, "What is my motivation, for this scene?," the child turns to teachers, parents, and peers to discover the "why" of learning. Motivation is often defined as a need or drive that energizes behavior toward a goal.
Dr. Edwin S. Ellis is a professor of Interdisciplinary Teacher Education at the University of Alabama. He teaches graduate courses in special education and undergraduate courses in the Special Education Collaborative Teacher Program and the Multiple Abilities Program (MAP).
This article addresses issues associated with common pedagogical practices that impede effective development of adolescents with learning disabilities. It also outlines goals, principles, and techniques for "watering up" curriculum and instruction so that intrinsic motivation, internal locus of control, academic and social self-concept, self-esteem, a sense of competence and confidence, an "attack" attitude about challenging tasks, willingness to take risks, and sense of personal potency are fostered.
Many accommodations, though designed to ensure success of adolescents with learning disabilities in content area classes, water down the curriculum by reducing opportunities to learn and emphasizing memorization of facts. This article explores how watering up the curriculum to create "thought-full" classrooms can facilitate achievement of learning and development of deep knowledge structures.