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Competency 4: The diversity of the student populations with whom you worked how students differed in their experiences and approaches to learning
I was exposed to a great variety of diversity in my student teaching experiences. At Matoaka Elementary, of my nine students, four were Caucasian, three were African American, one was Asian, and one was from Eastern Europe who had recently graduated from an ESL program. Four of them received free and reduced lunch. At Warwick high school, 13 out of my 15 students were African American, and the other two Caucasian. Most of these students received free and reduced lunch. In addition, they were diverse in religion, culture, learning styles, strengths, and weaknesses. It was important for me to consider each student as an individual, respect his culture and background, and differentiate lessons according to his needs.

Competency 10: Providing for Individual Differences in the Classroom
Please see this standard addressed on the Teaching Skills page.

Competency 19: Building Positive Rapport with and among students, fostering an environment that values and encourages respect for diversity.
Please see this standard addressed on the Classroom Management page.

Competency 29: Collaborating with learning/behavioral specialists, families, and/or related service personnel to meet the diverse needs of your students.
Please see this standard addressed on the Professional Dispositions page.

CEC Standard #6: Language
Typical and Atypical Language Development
Students with disabilities often display atypical language development for a variety of reasons. Some students may have a learning disability that impacts their phonological processing. Other students may have difficulty reading because of a decoding or visual discrimination deficit. Others, such as those with Down Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy, may have difficulty with expressive language, particularly speaking. Other students many have fine motor difficulties and have difficulty expressing language through writing. Students with autism may have difficulty with the social aspects of language (pragmatics). There are many strategies that can be used to aid students who have deficits in language development. For example, presenting information in multiple way, such as reading it orally, having it written on the board, and having picture cues gives the students multiple ways to access the information. Simplifying directions, breaking things down, and presenting things one at a time will prevent students from becoming overwhelmed by incoming information. This Resource Notebook, created by my classmates and I, provides many simple accommodations that teachers can use to help students with language-related disabilities, and demonstrates our understanding of how to assist students with atypical language development.

Assistive Technology
Some students will require assistive technology (AT) in order to access language in the classroom. AT includes augmented communication devices, such as tablet with Proloquo2go software, which can benefit a student with autism or cerebral palsy who struggles with oral language. Other students who have difficulty with writing or spelling could benefit from speech-to-text software. Students who struggle with reading decoding or comprehension would benefit from text-to-speech software, which will read text out loud to them and allow them to follow along. There are many AT options available to students, but it is up to the teacher to make sure it is implemented in the classroom. This AT Module demonstrates my knowledge of AT devices and services and how they can and should be used in the classroom.


Cultural and Linguistic Differences
During my graduate coursework, I had the opportunity to attend a professional development seminar led by Dr. Anne Charity-Hudley, and read her book, “Understanding English Language Variation in U.S. Schools.” Both in her seminar and in her text, Dr. Charity-Hudley discusses cultural language variations, particularly those of African American English and Southern English. It is important for educators to realize that cultural variations in language do exist, and just because a student does not speak in “Standard” English does not mean that he is dumb, uneducated, or in any way less intelligent than someone who speaks perfect Standard English. Dialect is a part of culture, and is passed on to children from their parents. I had one student in particular whose speech displayed many characteristics of African American English. For example, she would pronounce /th/ as /d/, such as in the word “dere” (there), and would often leave off the final “s” when making words plural, such as in the phrase “it’s my friend birthday.”
In this Reflection, I analyze the features of her oral language, and discuss ways in which I could improve her language skills. The most important thing I could do is to explicitly teach her the difference between “School English” and “Home English.” While it is perfectly okay to speak in her dialect at home and around town, in school (and in the future, in jobs) it would benefit her to speak in “standard English,” since society tends to assume that those who speak in standard English are more educated, intelligent, etc.

English as a Second Language
I did not have the opportunity to teach an ESL or ELL student during my student teaching experiences. I have had the opportunity to travel to Nicaragua three times on a service trip to teach English to elementary and high school students at a Catholic school in Matagalpa. There, I learned many skills that I can generalize to my future students who are learning English. For example, using pictures or other visuals is very helpful for aiding the student’s comprehension. Additionally, writing the words or directions on the board gives the students a visual as well as an auditory input. Recognizing the ways that the student’s native language is similar to and different from English, and capitalizing on those similarities is a good way to help the student make the connection between the two languages.