Thursday, March 22, 2012

Don Peek - Is Your Tool Belt Missing a Few Items?

This post is authored by Don Peek, a former educator and past president of the training division of Renaissance Learning. He now runs The School Funding Center, a company that provides grant information and grant-writing services to schools. To learn more, or to subscribe to the School Funding Center Grant Database, go to schoolfundingcenter.

Is Your Tool Belt Missing a Few Items?

I don’t know how handy you happen to be around the house.  I’m not exactly a master carpenter myself.  I do like to fix things when I can.  One lesson that I’ve learned repeatedly over the years is this:  You have to have the right tools to do a job properly.

And it’s not that you just need a screwdriver.   You need the right size and type of screwdriver for the particular screw you’re using.  You can use a manual screwdriver, but sometimes it takes as much as 10 times as long as it would with an electric one.  Putting up curtains can be a real chore.  If you have the right tools, the job is so much easier.

I’m not a professional carpenter.  Can you imagine the number of specialized tools real carpenters need to do their best work?

Now, let’s go to the classroom.  You’re not working in wood.  You’re working with the hearts, minds, and hands of students with learning disabilities and physical disabilities.  Having the right tools is absolutely essential.  A concept that might take days to grasp can sometimes be grasped in minutes if you’re using the right materials.

Let’s take reading.  You’re teaching an LD reading class with 12 students.  Only 5 of those students are on the same level.  You may need books on 7 different levels.  Some students may require large-print books.  One needs an audio book.

 You may be teaching one 4th grade LD reading class, but essentially you need the right tools for 7 different jobs.  Do you have the tools you need to teach your students the skills they need?

Since I’ve started writing this blog, I’ve spent some time studying the various types of materials and tools available to special education teachers.  I’d have to say, I’m amazed.  Proper tools are available to teach almost any skill at any level these days.

I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to write this blog for  I’m even more pleased when I look through their offerings and see essentially every tool, every type of material, every piece of equipment you might need in your special education classroom.

Does your budget allow you to purchase all the tools you need for your classroom?

I know budgets are getting cut right and left.  It may even get worse before it gets better.  That’s why I am also pleased to include a grant opportunity each time I write this blog.  Some will apply to your school and your situation.  Others won’t.  You should always take a look at the grant, however, to see if your situation is a fit.

Getting the exact tools you need to do your best job with every student is essential.  I hope you let this blog, the grant postings, and help you to get those necessary tools.  They won’t make you a better teacher, but they will certainly make you a more efficient one.

Grant Info:

Grant Name:  Let’s ALL Play

Funded By:  National Inclusion Project

Description:  Let’s ALL Play brings an inclusive recreational experience to children with disabilities. Through training, staffing, and scholarships, Let’s ALL Play gives children with disabilities the same experience as those without. Children with disabilities and their peers who are typically developing come together to participate in recreational activities such as swimming, arts and crafts, community service, physical fitness and more.   

Program Areas:  Disabilities, Special Education

Recipients:  Public School, Private School, Higher Education, Other

Proposal Deadline:  9/15/12


Availability:  All States


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