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It's Not On The Protocol
Here goes another rant about education.
I was in a meeting today. A representative for a very useful computer learning program was there. This program was designed for children with learning disabilities, especially dyslexia. This program provides personalized learning that goes at the student’s own pace in all six areas of reading instruction. It has done so well that it is now being used for common core in many schools throughout the country. We use it at our school, in our district. Except there is a condition. We can’t use it for children with special needs….
That’s right. Our district – in its infinite wisdom – has decided that a learning program that was originally designed for children with special needs can’t be used by our students with special needs.
Why? It’s not on the protocol.
That’s right. Not on the protocol.
Are THEY on the Protocol?
The program IS on the program for children in tier 1 – those students who do not need any extra help at all and can do work on their own. And that is the justification. No one has to explain the program to tier 1 students. They would have to explain it to tier 3 students – those students who need extra help, including those with special needs.
This program that is specially designed so that teachers can differentiate instruction in the classroom with its research, data-driven action plans – cannot be used to differentiate instruction in the classroom. This extra tool that I COULD be using, I am not allowed to use – simply because it’s not on the protocol for my students.
Doesn't Make Any Sense
This just doesn’t make any sense to me. One more thing that CAN benefit my students with special needs that I am NOT allowed to use. And for no really good reason. There are more programs that I am not allowed to use, as well. There are research driven, data-based math and language arts programs that were designed by experts in the fields of special education that I just can’t use. Just because a bunch of people sitting in a room decided that my students couldn’t use them.
Years ago, I could teach my students the way I wanted to. I could teach them using this computer program that was specifically designed for them. I could use the language arts program that was created and scientifically proven to work. I could create my own social stories and teach behavior lessons as needed. I could stop in the middle of a lesson that I saw was not working and change it up and make it work.
Now – I can’t do any of that. It’s not on the protocol.
What About Him?
Who Does This Protocol Fit?
A protocol that was made by a bunch of people who have not been in a classroom in a very long while – if at all. A bunch of people who haven’t worked with the children of today – children with today’s problems. Children who were born with drugs and alcohol in their systems. Children who are raised by television and video games. Children who are often left alone to care for themselves. Children who have no idea what a two parent family is like. And children who come from affluent homes with parents who care. Healthy children who are ready to learn. Smart children who can learn easily just by reading a chapter once. And all those children in between.
But this protocol is supposed to fit ALL of those children. Yes, the protocol puts those children into three tiers. But let’s face it; all children don’t fit into high, medium and low. There are many gray areas that aren’t addressed in this three tier system. What about the student who is gifted in math – yet is dyslexic and can’t read? Or the student who can read at a high school level – yet can’t comprehend at a first grade level? These students exist! There is at least one in every classroom. Then we have the ones who have learning disabilities or intellectual disabilities and those tiers don’t even begin to cover the things they need to help them learn. That protocol does them no good at all.
This protocol that I am supposed to depend on to teach my students is causing more harm than good. It would be okay if it were just a starting point. Something for beginning teachers to use to get an idea of where to start to help students. Or something to give the experienced teacher some new ideas. But it should not be the end all and be all when it comes to a student’s education. As an experienced teacher, I should be able to judge what is best for the students in my classroom. I should be able to help them the way I see is best for them. But I don’t have that option.
It’s not on the protocol.