Creating a more equitable classroom environment for students with learning differences can have a lasting positive impact on their educational experiences. This student-authored post is part of a series that highlights student perspectives around learning and executive function in the classroom.
Equity is a hot topic, but one group that is sometimes left out of the conversation is people with learning differences. As a student with learning differences, I know what it is like to be in classrooms that accommodate my differences and in classrooms that are not accepting or understanding.
Here are a few suggestions that can help teachers start thinking about what an equitable classroom looks like for people with learning differences.
Include All Students
Many classrooms, especially in the lower grades, separate students with and without learning differences. Some programs like this can be very beneficial, but they also have downsides, such as stigmatizing students by isolating them from the rest of their classmates. In this scenario, the social aspect is the main concern; it can lead to feelings of social isolation among students. In many cases, these programs are not the teacher’s choice, but I would encourage teachers to think about how these programs influence the students in them and the class as a whole.
Avoid Singling Out Students
Don’t make students feel like an alien just because they have a learning difference. Many teachers will make students with learning differences feel like an oddball because they give them so much extra attention and focus on them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. Most teachers do this because they want to help, but it can make students feel self-conscious. Remember to be aware of your actions and how they make your students feel.
Listen to Student Voices
Listen to your students and their advocates. Sometimes teachers may be hesitant to receive feedback about their classroom. Still, it is important to remember that every student is different. What has worked in the past may not work for the students who are currently in your class. Listening to them, their parents, and others who may know strategies that would help them can be very beneficial.
To read more student perspectives, check out the Real-Life Experiences with Remote Learning series. If you would like to hear from equity-minded educators, join us at the 36th Annual Executive Function Conference. If you are interested in building your executive function toolkit, join us for the Executive Function Summer Summit (July 27th, July 29th, August 3rd, and August 5th) and the SMARTS Executive Function Summer Workshop (August 10th, August 12th, August 17th, and August 19th).
- C. Solomon, Student Contributor
SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org
Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org
The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org