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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Neil Sturomski has worked for over 20 years in the learning disabilities field. He has taught both children and adults with learning disabilities, first as a teacher in grades K-12 and then as the Director of the Night School program of the Lab School of Washington.
It's much easier to differentiate instruction if we are experts in four areas: our students, the curriculum, cognitive theory, and differentiated instruction practices. All four must be in play if we are to teach effectively.
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.