Have I ever written that I absolutely LOVE what I do? That the ability to impact students through the use of technology is the greatest job ever? That effective technology implementation removes the obstacles to academic success and promotes independence? That it doesn't matter what a student's evaluation scores show, we still presume competence and can change lives through technology?
I love my job.
Two IEP team meetings this week highlighted what I continually experience.
During the first meeting, the excellent special education teacher shared the results of the implementation of a recommendation I made in the AT Evaluation she had received two days earlier. (She is that good; she wanted to try it BEFORE we discussed the recommendations in the IEP team meeting!) The student struggles with pencil control, letter and number formation and often dictates to a scribe. He completed half the math worksheet using pencil (putting random numbers in correct order). The result was illegible and incorrect. She then gave the student the shared classroom iPad, as she had installed SnapType. He took a picture of the worksheet, cropped it, added text boxes and correctly completed the rest of the worksheet. It was beautiful and CORRECT. Removing the difficulty with number formation reduced the COGNITIVE LOAD and the student completed it CORRECTLY! Not only that, he didn't need any prompts, something he needed constantly to complete his work.
Technology made an instantaneous difference!
The second student I evaluated is a high school student who scored poorly on cognitive testing. With assistive technology, it doesn't matter where evaluation scores fall. Instead, what matters is, what is it we want the student to do but they are unable? How can we use this student's strengths to promote success and independence? This student is highly motivated by and exceptionally proficient with technology. He told me, "Technology has changed my life!" He is so confident with his use of technology he stated, "I could definitely help my ELA teacher with technology because she doesn't use a website." Not only that, he has his own YouTube channel and uploads self-made videos daily!
So let's capitalize on his technology proficiency and confidence and help him use that skill in his role of a student! Fortunately, there is an AT Specialist who works full-time at the school who understands how technology integration strategies promote learning and academic success.
Technology makes a difference!
Are you offering technology to your students with special needs? Or are you withholding it with the belief that remediation is more important? Please reconsider your position - it is essential that accommodation (with effective technology implementation) and remediation occur simultaneously. Help me work myself out of the job that I love, because AT Consultants/Specialists will no longer be needed!
Until that happens, I will continually strive to ensure all students have access to the technologies they need.