The annual “MetLife Survey of the American Teacher” this year included a finding that I think should have gotten greater media attention. According to the survey, 91 percent of teachers interviewed said that schools need to strengthen programs and resources to help students with diverse learning needs prepare for success after high school. (See related story.)
This response resonated with me in part because it echoed a finding from an earlier MetLife teacher survey that has stuck in my head: In 2008, the survey found that nearly half of educators said that their students’ learning abilities were so varied that they couldn’t teach them effectively.
Together, these findings (backed by much anecdotal evidence) seem to me painfully revealing. You could almost see them as a cry for help, so to speak. Basically, teachers are saying they feel ill-equipped to meet the increasingly diverse learning needs of today’s students. They are calling out for more resources and support.
We developed this issue of the Teacher PD Sourcebook with that in mind. Obviously, as editors, we can’t do much about schools’ resource issues. But we wanted to provide examples of effective strategies for educators who find themselves working with high-needs students—specifically those who have learning disabilities or limited English, or who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Fittingly, our features section prominently includes an in-depth Q&A with Michelle Shearer, the current National Teacher of the Year, who is renowned for her commitment to making rigorous math and science materials accessible to struggling learners.
We also have articles on promising practices for working with special student populations, including co-teaching, ELL “shadowing,” and tablet-computer utilization. Finally, we include a Practice Briefing on ways to better support minority students who are at risk of being misclassified for special education.
We hope you find some ideas you can use to make your school, to paraphrase Shearer, a place “that really [is] for every student.”
A version of this article appeared in the October 13, 2011 edition of Teacher PD Sourcebook