Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Special Educator: Balancing the Equation

Sun Tzu, the author of "The Art of War," a 2,500 year old book that is a must-read book for business executives and military leaders alike, noted the following, which I have paraphrased:

To win in battle, one must know oneself, and their opponent. Yet, he also noted that if one knows thyself, yet not one's opponent, then for every battle one, he/she would lose a battle. Lastly, if one does not know thyself, nor one's opponent, then he/ she would suffer defeat every time.

Of course, as a Special Educator, the students I work with 1:1 are not my opponents, or enemies. As an Educator, it behooves me to always monitor my best way of delivering instruction. I must ask myself honest questions all the time. Its like I have an Executive Functions Coach sitting on my shoulder when I am empowering a learner. From a Special Educators perspective, good instructional delivery to an exceptional learner entails the rapid adaptation of the Teachers instructional approach and application of best methods. This means that tiering of supports and accommodations to the learner happens as organically as possible.

Moving forward, I must know my student. What are their preferred learning style? What are their stregths, weaknesses? As an Executive Functions Coach, a sub-type of Special Educator, it behooves me to monitor, and know their cognitive profile. Where do their executive function skills show stregth? Where are their perceived deficits? Has there been a diagnosis? What relevant information can I glean from the evaluation, if there is one? What do the parents have to say?

All that said, that is only half the equation. Knowing yourself, practicing excellent pedagogical application, and knowing the student will only get you so far. The denominator in this equation rests upon the Teacher-Student relationship. Creating a warm, caring comfortable learning environment is key to the success of the student, and the Teacher-Learner relationship.We have all heard that before, and it is the Truth. Their is a balancing act between knowing and practicing one's craft efficiently and effectively, knowing the student profile of the learner, etc., and them liking you.

What are the necessary ingredients for starting things of on the 'good foot,'then? I feel and think that one must love what they do, and at the risk of sounding corny, lead the life they love. At that point, it just shows through you. Others can see it, feel it. You care. You are sincere. You are genuine. You are engaged and motivated. The learner will pick up on your energy. It is positive, caring, comfortable, warm. Is that not how it is? In effect, this Teacher is then also a mentor, and a role model. There is emotional support being given. There is a feedback-loop process going on. From all this will come engagement and motivation.

Nail all these, and you both do home runs each and every time. Just like that.

Check out the following website. It is Rick Lavoie's site. He is a famous Special Educator. Definitely worth his mustard:) Forget that it is primarily geared towards children with learning disabilities, I feel that all parents, and Educators, including related service professionals, can benefit greatly from entertaining many different perspectives.

Of interest, is his dvd,

F.A.T. City Workshop: Frustration, Anxiety, Tension is a classic. Yes, you can find clips of it on you tube, but you want to see the whole video.


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