Modifications and Accommodations

A friend contacted me after dinner last night in a panic. Her son has just started 9th grade and has been failing math, in large part because he doesn’t understand the homework. He is on the spectrum, and is more than capable of handling academic work, given proper supports. But his homework hasn’t been modified, and I doubt the tests and quizzes have been either.

I don’t understand why teachers don’t do this.  Do they not realize that they have to? If a teacher saw a child in a wheelchair at the top of a staircase, unable to go downstairs, would they turn the other way and say, “That’s not my job, that’s the special ed teacher’s job”? Probably not, but because some of our kiddos on the spectrum “seem” capable, that instinct that all teachers are supposed to have to help children succeed just isn’t there? I just don’t understand.

simple modificationI still consider myself a teacher (especially with all of the modifications and accommodations I’ve been providing for my own son for the past two years), and helped my friend’s son via text. They would send me a picture of the problem, and I would set up a chart of the information to help him process it into an equation and send it back.  And guess what? They went from full-on meltdown mode to feeling much better about the math homework.

Now why in the world should this mom have to go on facebook, beg friends for help, and even offer to pay someone to help her boy with his work? No, I’m sorry. This falls in the realm of the duties of that math teacher.  She is failing at least one of her students.  That grade is not his, it is hers.  And if she can’t see that, someone needs to show her.

If you are a teacher, I strongly urge you to learn how to provide some basic modifications and accommodations (and while you’re at it, look into this thing called “Universal Design for Learning“). We’re supposed to help our students succeed, and if you are too tired or busy to only concentrate on the “normal” ones, you have a problem.

Sad to Lose My Bright Spot

My little kindergartener’s mom called today to say she won’t be coming back to me for tutoring.  She’s not verbal in the same way The Boy is not verbal, and her mom said she didn’t really know me, and you couldn’t be too careful, when she can’t tell her parents about anything that happens to her.

I get it.  Believe me, I do.

But I can’t deny that it hurts, and it makes me sad.

Once, when I was still doing my teacher thing, I was accused by a parent of putting my students in danger of heatstroke by having them march in a parade in 80 degree weather.  I’ve been called a lot of things over the span of my career, but that one really, really hurt.  That someone would think that I would ever harm one of my students was so wrong, such an unwarranted injustice to me…  Needless to say, it stayed with me.

As does this.  I looked forward to working with her, because I saw so much of my son in her, and she was a joy, a JOY, to work with.  I wish her well, and hope she gets every support she needs to become as independent as she can possibly be.  I hope she is able to advocate for herself someday.

Teaching can break your heart sometimes.

Broken heart symbol