One teacher’s strategy for reaching all learners.

The beginning of a school year is filled with “get to know you” projects, routine building, and understanding the school culture. Once those activities take place, it’s time to get down to the standards and skills to be mastered this year. You open the roadmap and begin to dive into all the lessons, topics, skills, supporting skills, enrichment ideas, projects and so much more. It can feel OVERWHELMING. You’ve probably already given some placements tests or your first academic test and realized they were not as focused as you thought and there are skills you need to reteach. 

Maybe this isn’t you and maybe it is. You are bound to feel overwhelmed at some point this school year, especially if you are new to teaching, at a new school, or other life factors. It’s important to keep track of where your students are so you can make sure they are moving towards mastery. One stressor that always hit me diving into a new school year was, “ How will I make sure they ALL find success?”

I have always worked with under-performing scholars as well as scholars with accommodations and have excelled with scholar growth throughout the year. I am frequently asked, “How do you do it?!” The simple answer without much detail is A LOT OF WORK. A more detailed answer would go into the depth of cooperative learning, various learning representations, and data tracking. 

The ONE strategy with the biggest impact though, is working with all levels of scholars in a systemized manner. I begin with my scholars that struggle the most with learning. This often tends to be scholars that fall under the Special Education umbrella and scholars that haven’t been identified yet. 

Why start here? Because the strategies I use with these scholars HELP ALL STUDENTS! It might be a review for your top learners but it might also present a different perspective for them as well helping their critical thinking skills. It also helps in a cooperative learning environment to provide support with each other. Understanding how these scholars learn and what supports they need in a lesson benefits the entire classroom. 

So this is where I start each new school year. If you’re not fluent in working with IEPs or accommodations I STRONGLY urge you to reach out to your special education department in addition to the paraprofessionals working in your classroom to begin forming your team to support these new scholars coming into your classroom. 

Another resource would be to attend the Learning Disabilities Association of Wisconsin’s Fall 2022 Conference where Robert F. Newby will be speaking about scholars with learning disabilities. He will be covering some amazing topics to help parents and teachers connect to help promote scholar success. Check out the details here to learn more about it.

I wish all teachers, new and seasoned, success in this new school year!

Jodi Birch
Middle School Math Teacher