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There are many commonly proposed solutions to the shortage of qualified teachers for secondary students who are struggling in math or have learning disabilities. These solutions are expensive, complex, and they will take considerable time to implement. Many of them have been with us for years and have yet to be seriously implemented. So, what can be done in the short term?
At the heart of today’s challenge is finding a sufficient number of new teachers who have three distinct qualifications: 1) a sufficient content knowledge of mathematics, 2) a reasonable level of teaching or “pedagogical” knowledge of the subject, and 3) a capacity to differentiate instruction for struggling students. Finding all of these qualifications in one individual is rare, and the data confirm this.
This is my 25th year teaching. Yet, it feels a bit like my first. I am part of a small team of teachers at my school who have volunteered to pilot a mastery learning program with our seventh-grade students. Like my first year in the classroom, the learning curve is steep.
The dream of every physicist is finding the theory of everything. The dream of every teacher is discovering how to engage every student. How wonderful it would be for them...and us. There is no single definition for engagement, but it is one of those constructs we recognize when we see it. Engaged students are attentive and interested in what they are doing. They are curious, hopeful about what they can accomplish, and enthusiastic.
October is National Dyslexia Awareness Month. During this month, we celebrate the amazing stories of the many people who have overcome challenges associated with dyslexia to be more. Some of these people have gone onto to lead incredibly remarkable lives, people like Richard Branson, Pablo Picasso, Henry Winkler, Agatha Christie, Octavia Spencer, Tim Tebow and Steven Spielberg – showing that they are not defined by their diagnosis.
Whatever the reason for your leave, it’s not easy handing over your students to a new teacher. It’s even harder coming back after someone else has been leading the class in their own style. I recently returned to the classroom following maternity leave. Everyone was anticipating the transition but no one capitalized more than my homeroom students who took the opportunity to create their idea of a new normal for the classroom.
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