Accepting a challenge, getting help

Guest blog by Natasha Berry
Middle School Math & Science Teacher
Cabarrus County, NC

With the start of the 2012-2013 school year, our district started assigning students in the Program for Academic and Career Exploration (PACE) to regular classroom settings for science and social studies. While I am usually open to changes that benefit students, I was skeptical about this one. I wondered if I had the ability to properly educate students with intellectual deficits and learning disabilities.

Despite my hesitations, I accepted the challenge when the principal asked me if I would host five young men who needed to be in a regular science class. At first, I didn’t know how far I could push the boys without going too far. Their abilities were far different from what I was used to.

After struggling for a few weeks, I sought advice from the PACE coordinator. I needed to find ways to tailor my lessons to the needs of these boys. She helped me understand some of the techniques I could use to help them learn what we were studying in class. With a little imagination, my teacher assistant and I modified lessons and materials. It seemed that we were starting to provide more opportunities for these five to learn what we were studying.

I had been presented a challenge I could not tackle on my own. I was humbled by all the assistance others were willing to provide. I also observed a transformation in the other students, too. It was remarkable to see how these five opened up to their classmates. And it was gratifying to see the other students helping them whenever they could. Their generosity rekindled a fire within me to strive to be a better person.


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