“Accommodation as the process of teaching itself”

Womack’s article shamed me–in a good way. I loved the way that she called attention to the language and stances teachers often take that make accommodations sound like a burden and a threat rather than something students deserve.

One of my favorite nuggets of wisdom from Womack’s article was the notion that learning strategies become not-an-accommodation once they are so common as to be normal. She uses taking notes by hand in class as an example of a learning method that became normalized through frequent use. I also liked her point that “the way to teach difficult material well is always to make it more accessible” (497), so the rigor/accommodation dichotomy is inherently false.

Another section that struck me was Linda Feldmeier White admitting that she “saw [her]self as the pedagogical authority in the classroom, and making changes felt threatening to [her] too-narrow definition of best practice” (496). I wish that didn’t resonate with me, but it does. I wonder how teachers can overcome that feeling of accommodations as a threat. I remember the Special Ed Coordinator at my school in Boston showed us a picture of different animals all trying to scale a tree. The monkey and cat and squirrel could do it, but the frog couldn’t, unless the tree was tipped sideways. It was hard for me to see scaling the tilted tree as an equally challenging activity, so it automatically felt like the bar was being lowered for the frog, even though I understood the concept that frogs have many skills, but asking them to climb a tree is impossible. I wonder how I can better come to accept the idea that there is no normal way of learning, but rather normalized¬†methods made primary through frequent use because this latter understanding of learning allows for changing methods without feeling like it is a sacrifice.

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