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ERIC Number: EJ906284
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Nov
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 6
ISSN: ISSN-0013-8274
Finding the Will to Individualize Instruction: How My Son Made Me a Better Teacher
Merritt, Tonya
English Journal, v100 n2 p49-55 Nov 2010
The beauty of American public education is that the potential of every individual is acknowledged with the clear expectation that each person should receive a high-quality, academically focused education. The challenge, then, is how to achieve that goal when students come with a variety of backgrounds, talents, interests, limitations, and motivations. Currently, federal mandates tell that no child is left behind when all students perform at equally high levels on a formal test, and while the author can appreciate the need to quantify evidence of educational equity, it concerns her that homogeneity is the only way deemed fit to measure parity in the current system. In this article, the author describes how her experiences navigating the Early Intervention program and working with her son's therapists to help him acquire skills that come naturally to many children have allowed her to reexamine the way she views her role as a public educator. As her understanding of the need for truly individualized education (for many students, not just those with documented disabilities) has developed, she has made significant changes to her classroom practice and philosophy. She now focuses more on what students should be thinking than on what they should be doing. She still uses her carefully designed step-by-step instructions to guide complex procedures, but she tends to teach by modeling metacognitive processes with think-alouds and by questioning students about how they determined that an answer is correct. She teaches them patterns of response and talks to them about strategies for remembering content by actively building connections to images and prior knowledge. Many students with special needs lack the academic skills to know intuitively how to navigate a rigorous activity independently, so she designs instruction with bridges to help those students demonstrate their knowledge and meet the academic expectations. She now takes responsibility for structuring the content so it is more accessible to students by making abstract concepts more concrete. (Contains 1 figure.)
National Council of Teachers of English. 1111 West Kenyon Road, Urbana, IL 61801-1096. Tel: 877-369-6283; Tel: 217-328-3870; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A