Support all students in your classroom.

The Story: A Frustrated Teacher

Two fifth-grade teachers, Zach and Jessica, had just dropped their students off at lunch and were walking down the hall. With a frustrated look, Zach turns to his colleague: “Scott is so frustrating; he’s so disorganized. It takes ten minutes for him to find his homework in his backpack; if he does it at all!” Jessica replied: “He’s definitely a bit scattered in my class, but he usually has his homework done and is typically ready to go with the rest of the class. That’s odd that he doesn’t do your homework because he always tells me he likes math more than reading.” “Are you serious?” Zach replies. “What’s up with that?”

The Context: Sharing Classwide Support

In education, we get so stuck in our classrooms that we become unaware of our colleagues’ practices, even just across the hall. The use of appropriate accommodations to support our students is a perfect example. Action Driven Education has been working to help teachers recognize that accommodations can be used in three tiers: universally for all children, in small groups for a handful of students, then finally, as individualized support for one student. Frequently, teachers utilize an accommodation universally in their classroom to support their students. This support helps minimize all students’ needs, including those with a more pronounced need. In the absence of these class-wide, universal supports, teachers may see their students struggling to find success. By first recognizing the presence of these needs, we can begin to identify their prevalence in our classrooms. If we see many students struggling in the same area, it may be appropriate to consider implementing a universal accommodation to support all students around their needs. If you observe a need that seems to be impacting a few students, a small group accommodation may be necessary. Finally, if you observe only one student demonstrating a need, implementing an individual accommodation is the ticket!

As we discussed in our Spring 2022 Newsletter, there are two important tiers to supporting children who are demonstrating a need. First, we plan how to support a child, or even a full class, around their need through the use of an accommodation. However, we can’t stop there. We also need to be planning ways to empower the child through their need by working to build their skills. This Through-and-Around Process is how we effectively eliminate students’ needs.

The Point: Use Three Tiers of Support to Meet All Students’ Needs

Educators should remain alert to the needs of their students. By recognizing the presence of a need in the entire class, small groups of students, or a single child, we can address these needs before they reach the point of frustration. Through the use of universal, small group, or individualized accommodations, we can ensure that all our students are engaged in our class, instruction, and assessments in meaningful ways!

The Story Continues: Teachers Share Thier Practices

Jessica and Zach head to their respective classrooms to eat their lunch. As she eats, Jessica reflects on the practices she uses in her classroom regularly that may support Scott’s disorganization need. She always posts her homework assignments in the same location on her board and gives her students a minute at the end of class to record them in their assignment books. She also provides her students with a yellow folder for them to hold their assignments, and she makes a digital copy of homework assignments available in her Google Drive with details to help students understand them when they are working from home. Put together, these strategies are likely meeting Scott’s needs making disorganization not an issue in her classroom.

Lunch quickly comes to an end, and it’s time to retrieve their students from the cafeteria. As the colleagues walk down the hall, Jessica shares the strategies she uses with Zach. “My goodness, I don’t do any of those things. Maybe that’s why Scott struggles so much in my class,” Zach replies. “Thank you so much for sharing!”

After reflecting on his practices, Zach realizes that Scott isn’t the only student struggling to complete assignments consistently. He begins taking a minute at the end of every class to permit his students to record their assignments. He also starts a Google Drive to share a digital version of all assignments. Finally, he meets with Scott and provides him with a green folder to be used to keep his math papers together. These universal and individualized accommodations support Scott, and several other students, around their organizational challenges. Zach realizes that he also needs to help his students to develop organizational skills, so he begins highlighting the effective strategies he observes other students using to help them to organize their day. By highlighting these practices, he’s helping all students to become organized. Zach also begins individually checking Scott’s assignment book to reinforce and support him as he works to develop effective organizational skills.

Be Action Driven: Things To Do

  1. Learn more in our Fall 2022 Newsletter – The Shapes and Sizes of Support. Be sure to sign up at the bottom of this page to receive future newsletters.
  2. Reflect upon, and share with others, the universal accommodations you use in your classroom.
  3. Remain diligent in watching for where a need may be impacting your class, a small group, or an individual student. Plan for ways to support them both through and around the need.
  4. Schedule a meeting with Action Driven Education to discuss our Through-and-Around Process further. You can schedule this digital meeting from our Calendly link found here.
  5. Dive into Accomods to explore ways you can support ALL of your students!