As many of you know, I am the Director of Loose LEAF Learning Center in Rockville, MD. Loose LEAF provides academic interventions to youth ages 5-21. One of my students is the subject of this note this evening. I have been working with him for about 2 months now. His family is from Egypt and they moved to Maryland because of its reputation in education. Montgomery County, in particular, is known for the schools and resources available to youth with Autism. My student has picked up on the English language very quickly[they have only been in the states for about a year and English is his third language; Arabic is first and then French]. He of course still struggles with comprehension in many areas. It is no surprise that this affects his academics.
Many times when working, he will stop me and ask me “why does the teacher give me so much work” or “why is this so hard”? When he first asked this, I simply told him because you are in the 8th grade and as your beautiful brain grows, so does your workload. As I worked with him longer and heard these questions more often, I really began to think about what he was saying. Here we have a student that is learning the English language, has a learning disability, and has Autism, yet the school continues to give him this large load of demanding work . I have been being the “family’s voice” and sending notes to the teacher to ensure that he is being accommodated appropriately. On one occasion, we asked if we could know what information would be on a test because the study guide was 8 pages long [front and back] and well…..there is no point in me forcing him to write all of this when only 15 questions would be asked. I also asked that he have multiple choice questions or given a word bank because he has a hard time recalling facts. He does wonderfully with prompting, however. I was provided with a completed study guide [how thoughtful of the teacher :/] and told that the test could not be changed. This sent me into a rage because this student has an IEP….what do you mean it can’t be changed. It then occurred to me that this must be apart of the Common Core instruction & assessments being provided.
I could go on about my newfound opinion of the Common Core Curriculum, but I shall save that for another day. My thoughts are now entangled with discovering when do we stop trying to bring students to a level of some fancy curriculum and start meeting them where they are. Everyone learns differently…..everyone learns differently…….EVERYONE LEARNS DIFFERENTLY!!!!! What part of this does the school system not understand. We as educators go through soooo much training in order to provide a proper education to each child, but we are still held responsible for their success. I don’t have a problem with being held accountable for a child’s progress……unless I am forcing that child to learn the way I have to teach it. This family looks to me daily and asks why is everything so difficult. Why is their son having to learn ten steps in order to answer a simple division problem. Why are they giving him such hard work knowing he can’t complete it. My student asked me, “do they want me to do bad”?
Well, you tell me dear reader………do they?