The word “ownership” always comes to mind for me when I think about how we identify and support the learning outcomes for EVERY student in our classrooms. Who “owns’ the responsibility of supporting those learning outcomes? As I shared in What is Equitable Teaching?, I am of the opinion that the learning outcomes should be met through the accessibility of the general education teacher.
Given this perspective, it becomes crucial that the general education teacher be a major collaborative partner in the process of identifying learning outcomes for EVERY student in their classroom. This includes students that have an Individual Education Plans(IEP), a 504 plan, or any other individualized learning plan. Collaboration of this nature is key to Equitable Teaching as it promotes the development of learning outcomes that are reflective of both the students skills and how those skills can be supported in the general education environment. A perspective that requires the general education teachers expertise.
In the current system a general education teacher must be present during the development of learning outcomes for an IEP, 504, or other individualized learning plans, yet often the determination of learning outcomes has been primarily driven by the specialists (special education teacher, social worker, speech therapist, occupational therapist, interventionists, etc.) in those areas. Why? Because the specialists are typically delivering the instruction to students with individualized learning plans. They are developing learning outcomes through the lens of how “they” can be accessible to support them. It then only makes sense that the general education teacher would have little or no “ownership” of the learning outcomes for students on individualized plans.
This is where the shift in perspective needs to occur for every member of an educational team by asking the question, “What Is My Role?” in supporting the learning outcomes of EVERY student. For specialists this requires a shift in perspective from “How do I support learning outcomes?” to “How can I support learning outcomes through accessibility to the general education teacher?” For the general education teacher this requires a shift in perspective from “The learning outcomes identified would be difficult to support in my classroom” to “I am going to ensure that I am accessible to the learning outcomes of every student in my classroom.”
Once this shift has occurred, educational teams can collaborate with the lens of accessibility to the general education teacher always in the forefront of their planning. General education teachers will have intimate knowledge of student skills and the best way to promote development of those skills within their classroom environment and specialists can use their expertise to support this through collaboration and consultation. The result, an Equitable Teaching mindset.
Can You Identify the learning outcomes that allow EVERY student to have them met through the accessibility of their general education teacher?