Is the resource room a waste of time?
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Recently, I read a Facebook entry written by a parent of a student with learning disabilities. The parent said, "The resource room is a waste of time for my child."
I was taken aback by the parent's comment. I began to internalize the comment and wondered if my work with students was a waste of time.
I thought about my resource room and the students I have served there. I questioned the curriculum and teaching methods I have chosen and used. I thought about the years that some students spent in the resource room, as well as the students who have been successful and left special education and my resource room.
I decided that I agreed with the parent.
The resource room is a waste of time if the special educator does not invest her time reading and practicing current research and learning best practice for instruction, while honing her craft. She must be flexible in her approach and know when to change her tools to try another way to teach a concept.
The special educator is wasting her students' time if she is not engaged in her own professional development, choosing to strengthen her own pedagogical weaknesses. The special educator is wasting her students' time if she does not get to know each student's educational and personal goals for success in the resource room and in the general education setting.
The special educator is the conduit for the student who engages in the various educational settings he encounters in his day. The special educator must invite the student to join her in a collaborative teaching-learning setting in which the teacher learns from the student as much as the student learns from the teacher.
The student is wasting his time in the resource room if he does not come willing to try, expecting the special educator to believe in and plan for his success. He should enter the resource room each day with confidence, knowing that the special educator is guiding him toward the completion of his IEP goals.
The student should expect the teacher to use multiple ways to teach him concepts that are difficult for him to learn. The student ought to expect the teacher to evaluate his learning and understand his unique thinking and processing.
The parents of the student with special learning needs are wasting their time if they do not actively become a part of the special education team for their child. They should learn about special education and the IEP process. They should read and research information to understand the way their child learns, putting that knowledge into practice to help their child.
The parents should ask questions of the teacher in the resource room to better understand the choices being made for and with their child. The teacher and parents should find the best way to communicate with each other, for the benefit of the child.
It is my responsibility, as the special educator, to make my resource room a place of great transformation instead of a waste of time. The special educator in the resource room must guide the expectations of each stakeholder — the student, the educators and the parents — using open and consistent communication. It is essential that a collaborative effort occurs for the common goal of individualized special education for the student.
Each stakeholder must take a step in the direction of another stakeholder to make the resource room experience one of success. Each stakeholder must define his or her role and choose to step away from what might be perceived as wasting time and toward progress.
There is no time to waste.
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