Sunday, April 28, 2013

Daily Assignment #132: Creating a Partnership with Parents of Students with Special Needs

"When parents and teachers work together, children do better in school."                            Janet Vohs, Director of Publications, Mass PIRC

I think we all know this, it just doesn't always translate into the parent-teacher relationship.  During the best of times communication can be difficult.  It can be even more of a challenge when a child has special needs.

For me, recognizing that I am not an expert on how to address all learning issues was the most essential step in working with parents of special needs students.  I believe letting the parents know that you are open to learning, understanding and working together to support their child is the next step in opening lines of communication and developing a productive, supportive relationship.

Now, having said that, I understand for some teachers it is very hard to let parents know that you have deficiencies in your skills and knowledge, especially if you are a new to the profession.  So, educate yourself, i.e., read the I.E.P. and understand it, speak with the previous year teacher and any specialist that worked with the student, list effective strategies that worked for the student in the past.  (These recommendations apply to season teachers as well.)

Let the parents know that you are both in this together.  Keep the parents informed. You will need to figure out how best to communicate with each other, e.g. emails, phone, notes.  Most importantly, be honest with the parents.

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Best Effort,

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Daily Assignment #131: Pygmalion Effect

A teacher asked me if I had written a blog on the Pygmalion Effect.  In checking my archives, I discovered this Daily Assignment in drafts.  I hope I'm not repeating myself. 

Often teachers have an expectation, and a belief, as to how students will perform or behave.  It is called the Pygmalion effect, named after a Cypriot sculptor from Greek mythology, who fell in love with a female statue he had carved out of ivory, also known as the Rosenthal effect, after  psychologist Robert Rosenthal who studied this phenomenon and published a report in the 1968.
The Pygmalion effect is a form of self-fulfilling believe/perception, by a teacher, whether negative or positive, which impacts student performance.  
In Rosenthal's study he predicted that when given information that certain students had higher IQs than others, teachers may unconsciously behave in ways that facilitate and encourage the students' success and the inverse for lower IQs.
In the study, a number of teachers were informed that certain students in their class had scored higher on academic and intelligence tests.  The teachers were asked to track the progress of those students through the school year.  Not surprisingly, those students performed at higher academic levels. 
There was one snag in the experiment: The students that Rosenthal had said were academically gifted actually weren't any different from the rest of the students in the class. 
James Rhem, executive editor for the online National Teaching and Learning Forum, commented:  "When teachers expect students to do well and show intellectual growth, they do; when teachers do not have such expectations, performance and growth are not so encouraged and may in fact be discouraged in a variety of ways." 

Teachers send expectations and their beliefs about student learning through their words, actions, lessons/assignments, body language, attitude and responses to students' answers and questions.  Teachers must be vigilant in regard in all these areas and some I haven't mentioned. Please refer to Daily Assignment #97.  
  1.  Rosenthal, Robert; Jacobson, Lenore (1992). Pygmalion in the classroom.
  2. ^ "Pygmalion In The Classroom". Retrieved 18-Oct-2010.
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Best Effort,