ASCD, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, has a lot to offer teachers as well as administrators. The organization was founded in 1943 and has continually provided high quality professional development, current research and issues, along with a commitment to improve education, one child at a time.
How does this play out for special needs kids? ASCD supports a positive approach to neurodiversity, which means celebrating learning differences and improving students’ ability to understand their unique strengths. This also means less emphasis upon labeling/pathology, less test-driven assessment, and more technological support for struggling students. With state and federal monies dependent upon labels, is this possible? Certainly! Most elementary students are oblivious to the behind-the-scenes labeling process. As they mature, students can participate in that process with a secure awareness that there is no average learner.
Check out the membership options for ASCD. You’ll be glad you did!
In the latest edition of Stanford, an alumni publication, atomic physicist Carl Wieman examines the differences in student performance between sit-and-listen versus hands-on, problem solving. (Sam Scott writes the article entitled “Should We Lose the Lecture?”) No question about the results. Students who actively participated in classes FAR outperformed their peers, even when the teacher was much more highly qualified.
So here’s the kicker: These studies were conducted at the graduate level of education! Research at the elementary, middle, and high school levels confirms that our brains simply can’t absorb such lengthy chunks of information. And we also need to actively interact with information (and our peers) to get the most out of instruction.
As teachers and students, we intuitively know this to be true. Yet in our practice, it feels expedient to lecture, lecture, lecture. Unless we are quite deliberate in structuring short chunks of information followed by authentic student interaction, we will overload our kids’ brains. Being a highly qualified teacher means losing the lecture.