Assessing students with significant cognitive disabilities is not an exact science, it's a bit like driving a bus backwards with a blindfold on (not that I have any experience with that). I know that seems like an out of the blue statement, but it should make sense soon. I've been reading Embracing Chaos, by Stephanie Crist, recently and came across a great post - Proof: Ben can Read!. The blog focuses on a mother's triumphs and struggles to raise 3 boys with autism, the post is a triumph - she was able prove her son could read! I applaud her and think there is more to say about it.
Stephanie's point was that she was forced to "prove" this fact to the teachers, and that is where I find some issue. Having been teaching for 10 years now, I know what some people think about "our" kids. They can't, they won't, they will never do that...but I want to know - Why Not? Who says that the child sitting in the wheelchair, unable to speak, listening to the same music after hitting a switch can't read those words too? Who says the non-verbal child sitting in front of you staring isn't sounding out a word? Why do we assume they can't? Why don't we have high expectations and figure out a way to teach it to them. One of my friends has this quote on her email:
‘If a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.’
I think it sums up this issue entirely. We need to find the way children learn and teach to them, not the other way around. We need to assume they can do things and figure out a way for them to show us they can. "Our" kids can do anything we believe they can do!
Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons: Eileen Delhi
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