3 Steps to a 504
Implementing with Purpose
(first in a 3 – part series)
I know what you’re thinking. Kim, why did you need to put purpose in your title? Quite honestly because I have been to too many 504 meetings where the adults disagreed on what we can and can’t do rather than what we should do and need to do with the purpose of, creating a happy and successful school experience for everyone.
Step 1 – Identify the Purpose
If we start each meeting not with just the purpose of the meeting but the purpose of each particular course or grade and focus on the learning that needs to be conveyed, in a way the child can access it and in demonstrated is a way the child can perform, we can create successful learning, experiences.
See that isn’t so hard. If a child is blind no one worries he doesn’t track with his finger , or if he is follow along in the book while he is listening. So, let’s agree if a child has a visual processing problem, tracking with a finger really isn’t necessary to hear and learn new content. Let go. That was easy, wasn’t it?
For every expectation we must know our purpose.
This will allow us to drop the draw bridge to the content allowing all to enter at their own pace in their own way. It is important we don’t ask them to climb the ivory tower on the way to our content. But work on having them lift their thoughts to the top of the tower once inside.
By identifying the purpose, aka objective, we can better identify what really needs to happen from what is “usually” done.
Step 2 – know the disability
Only when the team knows the disability . . . can we offer the correct accommodations.
Only when the team knows the disability and how the struggles present themselves in a learning environment can we offer the correct accommodations and modification. This is not a one size fits all type of meeting.
If a child has work completion issues, for example, offering a longer deadline is the last life line I would suggest as an accommodation. This child might need a more focused burst of effort to complete a simplified task more quickly, before the excitement and interest have worn off.
Often in a classroom, students can hide their disability as it is their nature as a human being. But, we can observe triggers, then list and avoid them. One child I taught hated watching movies in class. He felt that was a waste of his time. So, he would act out and cause everyone to lose focus and waste time.
Students with fine muscle motor issues write less not because they think less but they will avoid writing at any cost. Therefor, if we in step on decided our purpose was to teach and measure his ability to connect past historical archetypes with a contemporary, we need to be open to the idea that his disability (fine muscle motor delay) will direct us to ask him for an output other than a 5 paragraph essay.
Step 3- connect your expectations to life
Yes, this is a dip into my personal struggles, so pardon me if the passion reads strongly. Since the first day of 1st grade, or before, all student are told spelling counts. Well, you know what, not so much. Pretty much never on a first draft. In real life I see checks with spelling mistakes that get cashed all the time. Spell check is now on almost every personal electronic devise. Voice commands keep me from even having to type my own text messages. Not everyone will be good at everything. So everything, can’t count all the time.
In real life, there are not spelling tests. In real life if you are good enough at what you do, you can hire someone to do the things you can’t. My brother the welder, doesn’t do laundry. My sister the secretary, doesn’t change her oil. My friend the website developer doesn’t teach reading. My friend the reading teacher, doesn’t do algebra. I could go on.
There are many skills the 504 team might consider to pass on. A good 504 team will tear down every barrier to the content or skill that is the purpose of the lesson. Eventually we do need to select the skills the student will need as an independent happy successful adult. Writing vocabulary definitions and sentences are not part of my adult life, outside of teaching. Learning vocabulary is important but do all students need to do the same things to learn new words? Do all students need to be tested in the same way? No.
As you move forward in writing, participating and following 504 plans, be kind. Be kind to the student who struggles with something you may not understand. Be kind to yourself. Give freely your knowledge in what ever way your students can learn.
Consider how the skill or concept will be practiced in real life. Learn and practice it in that manner.
While I am writing this I have two third grade students whose content objective is to find the parts of a whole, aka fractions of a number. They are making copies of my pre-algebra pages and having to solve the problem of how many copies to make.
Good morning girls. I have 32 students in my 7th period. 1/4 of them need page 181 copied. Another 1/4 need 181 and 182 copied front to back and the remaining 1/2 need page 224 from the second book. Please copy, clip and label with a post it, how many copies you made. Thanks for helping, see you tomorrow.
The ease of attending, facilitating or implementing 504 plan is not a mirage. If you know the purpose of what you are asking in your lessons, the disability a child copes with with, the accommodations needed to meet the objective will be clear and purposeful. The gates can be dropped and the fortitude it takes for a child to reach the goal can be focused on needed outcomes and rewarded with success.
If you have any questions about a child, or situation, please ask. There are so many ways to contact me. email firstname.lastname@example.org Comment here or join my online community as a member of 4thekids.net I officially invite you to join and I will immediately send you my Accommodation Toolkit outlining supports I use every day for 16 of the most prevalent struggles students have today. Just click on the Yes, image below and let me know where your inbox lives.
May happiness be with you,