i have a special connection with special education kids. my sister chase was born with mental disabilities. she will always be eternally an 8 or 9 year old, even though she is now physically 27 years old. she had some very different experiences during her time in school (which was legally until she was 23). some schools were great and totally supportive of her right to a “least restrictive environment”. some worked against my family’s wishes for her to do her best at everything she was able to do and we had to push back. my mama especially became an activist for her and other special ed students.
so i know how important education and support helps special ed students. i see it through a different lens than others. i look out for them. i make sure that i follow their paperwork to a T. i ask questions because i want to make sure that those students have a shot at the best possible education. that doesn’t mean they’re perfect people. they’re flawed, just like the rest of us. but they have the right to what “regular” students have: an education in the least restrictive environment to their learning.
special ed kids will teach you a few things because…
- you will be forced to slow down – teaching something slower actually helps you catch their mistakes (and yours). you’ll have to think about a different way to explain something in real time. some kids are afraid to ask questions. slowing down can help out your whole group too.
- you’ll be more creative – they will push you forward. G/T kids will really push you to be more creative. don’t be afraid of a project. also, don’t be afraid of higher expectations. see what draws them in. it may be acting, writing, art, real-life projects, etc. it may work, it may not. but at least try it!
- you’ll have to teach in a different way – you’ll have to think outside the box. you’ll have to adapt their work (whether to a higher or lower level) to the subject matter or skill. you will have to dig deep to come up with a different way for you to assess their learn. different doesn’t always mean better, but it can for them.
- you’ll learn patience – you will have to bite your tongue. you will have to take a deep breath. but then you’ll get back into it and do what you have to do with kind words and gestures. sometimes going too slow (or too fast) can be frustrating. just know it’ll be worth it in the end.