Do Resource Teachers Have the Right Resources?
Here are some statements we’ve heard from real resource teachers:
“I tell my middle-school students that they will learn to read and be fine when they get to high school. I’m tired of lying to them.”
“The system enables education professionals to be only charged with ticking boxes and paper-trailing their compliance and due process. I’m tired of it. I’m exhausted from the lack of outcomes. I’m leaving K-12 teaching, because of the lack of outcomes, and looking to enter a different realm where my time is not wasted.”
“I came to a point where I really had given up hope. I felt like I was spinning my wheels. I really wasn’t making much of a difference, especially in the long term.”
None of these teachers started out with these feelings. But there are only so many boxes anyone can tick, and only so many struggling students one can watch being demoralized and failing year after year, without becoming emotionally drained.
The system that is supposed to help students get supports often doesn’t work because the goal changes from having a real impact to checking off boxes and focusing on compliance. That is, did we provide one-on-one instruction rather than did the one-on-one instruction help the student catch up? The systems that were designed to make sure that students get the support they need too often become compliance for the sake of compliance.
And why would that be? What we see repeatedly are resource teachers who simply don’t know what to do, other than teach and reteach and hope for a different result, or don’t have the resources for anything else. And then there are the teachers who have gotten to the point of what one of them calls “mastering the psycho-babble,” without understanding how learning works and what happens when it breaks down, and without having actionable strategies and tools to address them.
What are the resources these under-resourced resource teachers need? Based on our experience, here are some things that can really make a difference:
- An understanding of how the brain learns, not from pop-culture and movies but from educators who have studied the neuroscience research and can explain how to apply it.
- An understanding of the cognitive skills that are essential for learning.
- An understanding of an individual student’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses and easy and immediate access to evidence-based strategies to support that student.
- A tool that can help strengthen the cognitive skills needed for learning.
- A tool that makes learning to read English easier.
- A tool that helps with the development of number sense.
All of these resources exist. For two of the three teachers quoted above, one or more of these resources arrived in time before they left teaching. When students need the support of resource teachers, those resource teachers need to be aware of and have access to resources that make a difference. Neither their students nor the teachers themselves benefit from ticking boxes.
What is your experience with resource teachers having the right resources?