When I first tell people that I am a resource teacher and teach a class called learning strategies, I sometimes get the famous comment, “Oh, is your class really a homework hour?” “Is your main focus to help the kids graduate? ” My responses are no to the first and partially to the second.
Our program does support students in their academic classes, but our first and foremost goal is to teach the strategies for success, not just support them to get a diploma.
We are doing a disservice to students, especially struggling learners, if our focus in high school is just to help them graduate. Sure, the content is very important, but if students don’t have strategies to implement to tackle new content, they will struggle immensely as the content requires higher orders of thinking beyond basic understanding.
I have had the privilege of working with many amazing students as a teacher. One particular student comes to mind as I think about what a huge impact strategies have on student success. Student A, was diagnosed with dyslexia as well as a learning disability in the areas of reading comprehension and math problem solving. But through the use of exposure to varying strategies, and finding which ones worked best for her, she moved out of resource English and Math classes as she progressed through high school. She found she learned best through color coding, reviewing material over and over and staying extremely organized in order to be successful as well as integrating technology supports. This August, she began her second year of college and has made the dean’s list during her freshman year. Through hard work and determination, she has taken what she learned in high school and has applied it to her entire life. Had we only helped her muddle through strictly the content of high school material, she would have been at a huge disadvantage once she left our doors.
Life is about learning different strategies, finding which one(s) work best for you, and implementing them. Let’s make this year about preparing our students for the challenges they face beyond strictly content.