Friday, February 21, 2014

It's the Language

As I return from my latest two day workshop, I am continually impressed with the need to address instructional language.  When I completed my teaching degrees, I received no instruction in identifying and dealing with learning differences.  It was assumed that if a child were not in special education he or she would be able to learn in my class.  That was many years ago.  Within the first three years of my teaching, all teachers were required to take a special education class or some in house training in special needs.  That is when I first received training in multisensory methods as part of a public school O-G based program. 

Now teachers are expected to teach inclusion classes and sometimes work with another teacher to support special needs students in blended classrooms.  There is lots of talk about differentiation.  What I find in the field is that teachers are not always given sufficient professional development to feel confident in addressing the myriad learning differences that can occur in the same class. 

One of the simplest vehicles for addressing the needs of all students is clear, precise, concept oriented language with a rate of speech that does not race of some student's heads.  A well articulated lesson delivered at a moderate rate of speech is more apt to reach a greater number of students. 

Yes, there are times when a faster rate of speech, emotion and excitement should infuse the classroom with urgency.  These are moment which inspire students and engage them in questioning and analysis.  However, when a new concept is being introduced or sequential directions are given, the rate of speech should allow for processing speed deficits and be delivered in such a way to meet the needs of all students. 

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