Advent: Day 5
Psalm 18:19, Revised Standard Version
There’s probably nothing more unnerving than being in a narrow place, especially if there seems to be no way out. One’s chest tightens, it’s hard to breathe, and panic sets in.
Apparently the psalmist found himself in that kind of predicament, yet God came to his rescue and made it possible for the psalmist to breathe easily again.
What God did for the psalmist—brought him into a broad place—we special education teachers attempt to do for our students.
Most of the kids I work with have learning disabilities. They need accommodations in order to access the curriculum. They need modifications to the assessment process so they can show what they know in alternative ways.
For example, B-Boy apparently has dysgraphia, the inability to write coherent sentences—or much of anything at all. One of his modifications is to be tested orally instead of with pencil and paper.
C-Girl doesn’t write well, but she has artistic talent. Instead of writing research papers, she shows us in drawings that she understands what we have taught.
D-Boy, an eighth-grader, is reading at about a kindergarten level—maybe. Over the years he’s learned to compensate for his inability to read by listening carefully. He pays very close attention to books that are read to him, and if someone also reads multiple choice tests about a particular book to him, he can usually make a respectable grade.
Many students with learning disabilities have test anxiety, especially when it comes to taking district benchmarks or other standardized tests. To help alleviate their stress, we test them in small groups and allow them more time than other students to complete the exam.
In all that we special education teachers do for our students, our aim is to deliver them from thinking that they can’t do much of anything at all (a narrow place), and help them to discover and use their hidden strengths (a broad place).
During Advent—and beyond—God works in the world to bring people out of narrow places into broad places. May I continue to see that work in my students’ lives, and in my own life as well.