Demystifying Education: A bridge between home and school
RTI, Danielson's Framework, pedagogy, scaffolding, differentiation, FBA, PBSP, LRE, rigor, grit, formative and summative, SAIP, flexible seating arrangments, SDI, learning to proficiency, multidisciplinary teams...and on...and on...
After nearly a decade in the classroom as a special education teacher (learning, autistic and emotional support), I am fluent (nearly) in "Teacher Speak." My bilingual abilities were hard-earned. I remember my first year nearly drowning in a sea of alphabet soup. Special education, in particular, is rife with enough legalese and acronyms to rival nearly any government agency. I can remember nodding my head as these terms flew around faculty meetings as if I understood. Then, from the safety of my apartment, I would turn to Google and try to figure it all out. I recall a specific conversation with a trusted colleague after Google had failed me:
Me: "Humor me. What's with all the 'scaffolding' talk? Google tells me it's a temporary structure on the outside of buildings. I feel like I missed a course on teaching."
Colleague: "Oh, it doesn't really need a fancy name. It's common sense. Give a kid a lot of help at first and then gradually pull back until they can do it on their own. Hopefully, by the end, they are doing it all on their own without any help."
This interaction epitomizes many subsequent interactions. What sounds daunting and complex can often be explained in a simple, straightforward way. That is my first aim of "From the Teacher's Inbox:" present you with actionable, straightforward information that can put your child on the path to a successful school year.
Secondly, I find parents are often reluctant to approach teachers and other school staff with questions and concerns. I knew this hesitancy existed with my students' parents, but I didn't fully understand it...until I had my own kid.
I am the proud dad of a preschooler. The rewards and challenges of parenting are endless. I have been moved to tears, felt barely contained rage, swelling pride and total bewilderment within the span of a few short minutes. "Dad" is the most important job title I will ever have. Given the importance of parenting, it's frightening to think how utterly unqualified I am. There is no Owner's Manual for children and there are no clear-cut answers. We all will make countless mistakes and our children will end up teaching us way more than we are ever able to teach them. As a dad, I rationally recognize the nature of parenting and accept that I am "learning on the job." However, I feel an emotional reluctance to ask for help. In my psyche, asking questions about parenting is akin to admitting ineptitude in the most important realm of my life. While this is an exaggeration, I suspect some version of this thought process inhibits parents from approaching school staff and teachers with questions and to enlist their support.
This is my second main aim in "From the Teacher's Inbox." It is my sincere goal to bridge the gap between home and school while demystifying public education. Children do best socially, psychologically and educationally when their family, community and school work together.
I welcome and encourage your questions--judgment-free! Simply post a comment or send an email my way!
Stay tuned for the next post "From the Teacher's Inbox!"