If we as teachers truly want to help ALL of our students learn, then it is pretty clear that it is a teacher’s responsibility to seek the means for accomplishing such an objective. It is so easy for teachers to hide behind a front of excuses that supposedly inhibit them from taking extra measures to ensure all of their students are having an equal opportunity to succeed. It is easy to implement a content-based classroom and maintain an annual routine of regurgitating the same material and lesson plans. What is not easy is going above and beyond for our students, taking the extra time to come up with new lesson plans that encourages a student-based classroom, taking the extra time to come up with innovative assessments and differing assignments, taking the extra time to grade for student effort and progress rather than simply completion and content. What is not easy is stepping out of our comfort zone and inserting ourselves in a role in which we try to take the time to study our students and attempt to understand the underlying causes for their behavior or undesirable habits in a classroom. Not to be cliché but it is pretty simple, yet complex. Teachers simply need to constantly be evolving, changing their methods, and finding new means to engaging their students. We need to be able to accommodate them and encourage true learning as opposed to simply giving them a grade. An article written by Christina Samuels discusses how teachers are trying to help students with ADHD succeed in their classrooms, and some methods for accomplishing this are actually giving students Individualized Education Plans or 504 plans. Other means, even though evidence illustrates that this support applies for only about 25 percent of all high school students, are taking the extra time to help students with learning strategies and study-skills.
In order to better the experience of our ELL students and accommodate all their needs, practical methods need to be considered. In an article, it is revealed that the Jefferson Parish public school system spent 5.6 million dollars specifically for improving the learning experience of ELL students. While simply throwing money at a problem is obviously not the solution, effectively using that money to provide ELL students with proper materials so they can be integrated into a normal classroom setting is a practical method that can help accommodate all ELL students. However, if school budgets cannot allocate sources towards providing ELL with more resources there are other practical measures. Another method schools can undertake is attempting to hire teachers that are bilingual or have some proficiency in a secondary language in order to better connect with ELL students. Other methods can be simply implemented in everyday instruction. Teachers can use graphic organizers to help their ELL students by making note-taking exceptionally easier and giving them a device to remember the big themes of a lesson, as opposed to suffering from sensory-overload by attempting to take unregulated notes on all the content that is covered in a given lesson. Another method for everyday classroom instruction is purposively using imagery in lessons. The use of lessons allows ELL students to form a tangible understanding of a concept by associating an image with a word or phrase. Depending on the class, the use of kinetic movement can also be effective for accommodating ELL students. For example, during my freshman year of high school my Pre-AP World History Teacher would have us as a class reenact or ‘play’ certain events in world history to understand concepts such as ritual sacrifice in the Inca Empire, or the baby selection process in Sparta. Engaging in physical movement is a means that, again, allows ELL students to create a tangible understanding of a concept by associating that activity with a word or phrase.