A site to discuss better education for all.
By Diane Ravitch
January 22, 2016
"When I first began teaching, my mentor told me: ‘If there’s anything about the system that you want to fight, just make sure it’s the hill you want to die on.’”
Imagine teaching “To Kill a Mockingbird” to children who can’t read. Teachers of special education are expected to teach the Common Core to their students regardless of their ability or readiness.
This comes from Jill Cataldo, a teacher of special education, blogging on Brandin Stratton’s blog, called “Humans of New York.” (Thanks to readers for correcting me.)
“Even in special education, our curriculum is based on Common Core standards. I’ll have to teach about seasons to a child who doesn’t know his own name. I’m expected to teach To Kill A Mockingbird to a classroom full of nonverbal students, some of whom may be wearing diapers and haven’t learned their ABCs.
I think it’s insulting to tell students what they’re going to learn, regardless of their abilities and needs. But I try to work some magic and design a lesson plan where everyone in the class can take something away from the story. For the least advanced students, we just use To Kill A Mockingbird to practice the alphabet.
Then, I’m also expected to teach Algebra. I try my best using lots of velcro and lamination, but I can’t say that many of my students have ever learned how to solve for x. We spend so much energy on learning how to sit still.
I think special populations should be focused more on vocational training like filling out forms and budgeting money—things that will give them confidence and prepare them for independence. But I keep my mouth shut and do my best to work within the system.
When I first began teaching, my mentor told me: ‘If there’s anything about the system that you want to fight, just make sure it’s the hill you want to die on.’”