It’s Progress Report time, which, for a special education school, means reporting on the progress of each benchmark within each goal, for each student. For me, it’s reporting on their progress towards their Receptive/Expressive Language (speech/language) goal.
And while doing that, I’ve realized how much of our data is confounded. I mean, obviously. There are a million different factors and that goes with the job, with the therapy. But I have so many students who live very much in their heads. Some who can even express what it’s like to be inside their minds and their bodies, who can explain, whether it’s through a script or a drawing, how their brain works.
And it isn’t easy for them to come out of their heads. And it isn’t easy for them to learn in the way that we teach. Easier when we modify, easier when we cater toward their needs and personalities, but still not easy.
So when I report that a student did not achieve a benchmark, did not obtain x/y/z skills, I’m struggling with it. Because I want to put in bold underneath:
-Student may know way more than s/he is able to show us.
-Student’s performance varies based on his/her internal state and sensory regulation.
Now I don’t know how much the Dept. of Ed. would like that (sarcasm) so I don’t do that. But I want the parents of my students to understand. That it’s not necessarily that their child can’t do something. Yes, there are things they can’t do, can’t understand, can’t comprehend. But I truly, firmly, strongly believe that more often than not? It’s that the world around them is not shaped in a way where they can SHOW what they know. Where they can access the knowledge that’s being taught. Where they can truly express their knowledge, thoughts, and comprehension.
I just want parents to know that. That I think their kids, all of them, are brilliant. That I understand them. A lot. On a nonverbal way, on that I-understand-him-through-my-soul way. That no matter what my Progress Report says, no matter how many benchmarks are or are not achieved, I will not give up. I will not think their child is incapable, not think that they have plateaued in development, not think that they do not or cannot understand something. I will not stop trying to meet them on their level, and I will not stop trying to teach in a way that they get. And if that means scripting back and forth with a student for 20 minutes so that I can explain a concept in a way that they understand? You bet I’ll do it.
Your kids are brilliant. All of them.
Please know that I know that.