I had the pleasure of meeting Christopher‘s 4th grade teachers during the first parent-teacher conference this year. The students in his class work with one teacher for language arts and another for math. Both his teachers are currently reading books on autism with a desire to better understand his special needs. They obviously LOVE this kiddo! No wonder he still has energy for tutoring after school.
The conference was memorable because of their openness to strategies which have proved effective with Christopher. As an “outsider,” I am sensitive to classroom teachers’ uncertainties and (too frequent) reluctance to accept advice. Often, I find myself in the midst of a balancing act between the special needs student and the classroom teacher’s rigid adherence to “the way we do school.” I am loathe to share my qualifications, as I’ve found that makes some folks wary or defensive. I’m aware that a classroom teacher has her hands full with 22+ students. The class cannot revolve solely around Christopher’s needs, but unless he is provided some key modifications, his needs will start to usurp effective instruction. What a huge relief when regular education teachers are genuinely willing to listen and accommodate special needs kids. It’s a balancing act for them, as well, and I am grateful for Christopher’s special classroom teachers!