Our school utilized the Schools Attuned management binder resource to help us in coming up with strategies for students who were sent to the Student Assistance Team. As our school switches over to more research based interventions that must be documented and graphed to show growth or not, we are using the interventions in the binder as Tier I strategies mostly. I believe that the lessons and activities related to the constructs should be taught regardless of whether or not children are sent to the SAT. These interventions are not brand new. They are things we should be doing anyhow, as educators, to teach our students about how they learn best. At that point, then the interventions could be added to strengthen one’s teaching.
During our last week of school the third graders put on the Schools Attuned Fair for the upcoming second graders. Although this is usually supposed to be presented to parents, we decided to try something new. We learned about the constructs throughout the year and then spent the last three weeks reveiwing and learning the specific lessons for the fair. It was a huge success. The third graders were able to take it very seriously and station managers knew their roles. We had several children “floating” around to help if anyone needed it. The second graders enjoyed the morning as well. They enjoyed the lessons and learned about their learning. Next year, we hope to continue working with the second graders and find a night to invite the parents. Diane Childress
Last week I completed the exam accommodation schedule for our students at Forman School. It was enlightening to see that students who were once resistant to taking an exam in the library for a distraction free environment or in the computer lab where they would have access to a word processor to compose essays were now readily signing up for the services they needed. Students are no longer ashamed to ask for accommodations or deny they need them. In our Learning Center, Learning Specialists begin the school year planning demystification sessions for each of their students. Following discussions of a student’s strengths, the Learning Specialist leads the student into understanding his neurodevelopmental profile and its impact on school performance. Gradually the student becomes comfortable talking about his learning profile and acknowledging the fact that he may need accommodations in the classroom and when taking examinations. It may take some students longer than others to understand and accept the nature of their learning problems, but with careful guidance and support of their Learning Specialist, most, if not all, students learn and apply strategies to perform better in school and will advocate for needed accommodations without fear of being ridiculed or “different.” Acceptance is the key.
As our school year closes and the seniors graduate I ask the question “What’s next for them”. Having been taught to advocate for themselves, and with the majority of them being demystified, I ask if the college world will understand that students with learning disorders still require support. Fortunately the majority of the senior class members have chosen colleges and universities that have specific programs for students with learning disorders. At Forman using the AKOM language enables our students have a much clearer understanding of their own learning process. They are constantly told that it will be important to contact the college early and discuss their individual needs, seek out resources, clearly articulate their strengths and challenges. I recently spoke to the senior class about their legal rights under The American with Disabilities Act and what they can and can not expect from colleges. There are many misconceptions that students and parents have about a students rights once they graduate high school. My message to them was to understand the basic abilities of their mind (Neurodevelopmental functions) to the best of their abilities because this will be a life skill.