Thinking Differently, part 3. How MI Informs Special Ed Teaching

hands_paintedThinking differently .  .  . about Special Education. More importantly, I should say, extending our thinking with MI as we teach students with special education needs. Teachers in special education have long been aware of and advocates for using MI to understand their students. But, MI gets little attention for its benefits and in some ways cuts against the grain of “behavioral analysis” that is common in Special Ed. It doesn’t have to be this way.

I recently spent two days with a group of 16 special educators at the Jackson School District in Jackson, NJ, who work in resource rooms and on inclusion teams. Under the leadership of Robert Cerco, Ph.D. they will begin to use MI to enhance instruction via strengths-based strategies. The goals of this workshop were to renew their appreciation for MI and to show them how to use my MIDAS assessment. They responded very positively to the workshop and many left with the goal of increasing their focus on MI during the coming year. It was great to see these good teachers get affirmed for what they are already doing well and also to hear them being willing and open to extend their teaching “tools.”  This is not easy for many teachers to accept and then devote precious time to doing.

It is interesting to hear what they have to say about the workshop’s highlights in their own words.

 What stands out for me is…

  •  “How MI can help the whole student.”
  •  “That MI are so important to address in lessons and we subconsiously do this on a daily basis.”
  •  “How easily I can transform MI into my lesson planning.”
  •  “How to reach students to intrinsically motivate them to want to learn.”
  •  “…the balance of the MIDAS Profile for individuals, professionals, and family members in understanding strengths and weaknesses….the importance of self-reflection”
  •  “How much we do this without thinking about it but how much more we can do with this new knowledge.”
  • “I am excited to complete the MIDAS on my students and capitalize on their strengths.”
  • “The common language that this assessment offers for all discplines, students and parents. How I can help other teachers find their students’ strengths.”
  • “We need to do this as an inservice to our regular classroom teachers.”

What I can do next is . . .

  •  “Give the MIDAS Profile to my students to help their strengths build their weaknesses.”
  •  “Learn more about the interplay between the MI model and self-management planning (behavior analysis).”
  •  “Learn more about different study strategies for each of the MI and reading comprehension as it relates to MI.”
  •  “Learn more about assessing the lower functioning student, stutdents who are considered non-readers, or with limited vocalization. I want to get parents on board and will explain to them the different intelligences.”
  •  “Implement successful, more enriching lessons to reach students’ intellectual strengths and help their weaknesses.”
    “Learn how to bridge school staff / students / parents to help students self-assess and self-manage.”
  •  “Learn how to profile students more effectively in a way for my students and parents to buy in.”
  •  “Learn about creating valid authentic assessments.”