Can I Get a Tow? Relating to Students with LD

Posted on January 01, 2012
Can I Get a Tow? Relating to Students with Learning Disabilities

Photo by Flickr User 'J'

My car’s engine did not whir, approved or click, buy or do any of the other things an engine is supposed to do when the key is turned. I didn’t panic, as I learned years ago that panicking does not help an auto-related emergency.  I dialed the number and explained the problem with language a 1st grader might use. “When I turn the key, nothing happens. Well, I guess the speedometer goes up to 80 miles an hour even though I’m not moving. And I don’t hear the radio.”

As I stood in the shade of small maple tree, waiting for the tow truck, I started to realize how uncomfortable school can be for a student with learning difficulties. This is especially true in a mixed-ability classroom, where IQs and GPAs vary by two or more standard deviations. One student may have read Crime and Punishment in 7th grade, while the student sitting next to him has never read a novel in his life. With regard to writing, some students are turning in extra-credit essays about the bombing of Pearl Harbor and others are too embarrassed to place their three-sentence essay on democracy in the “to be passed in” pile. This level of discomfort does not sit well with any human being.

Those of us who teach in special education or remedial programs know the scoop: Phrases like “below average,” “well-below average,” or “extremely low” are common in our students’ permanent records. Yet we expect these same kids, when they come out of class confused, to be motivated by these kinds of questions:

“Did you raise your hand?”

“Did you ask the kid sitting next to you?”

“What about asking the teacher?”

“What do you plan to do about this?”

Author:  Jonathan Clancy, Teacher Magazine

Read more HERE>