Something keeps popping up from time to time, which after its most recent occurrence, reminded me of something I can do to improve my own collaboration with teachers regarding my language teaching. I was told something like this again: “I don’t think (the student) is ready to learn prepositions. We’re just working on what nouns and verbs are, and even that’s difficult for a lot of the kids.”
Many professionals do not understand that when we are teaching a language skill, such as prepositions, we are not teaching metalinguistic skills. We are not working on knowing the different parts of speech. Many teachers, as well as parents, think that our goals toward specific deficits are that we are teaching kids to understand what prepositions are, for this example, and not as is actually the case, using prepositions as a grouping for kids that have difficulty with specific types of words that their peers normally don’t have. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to explain that I am not teaching a child what prepositions are, or what pronouns or adjectives are, but rather I’m teaching them to be able to use and understand these groups of words as well as their peers can. But, this is something I need to improve. Too often, I’ve just assumed they know this, when I should instead be assuming that they don’t.
So, my plan is that in the future whenever I mention to anyone what specific language skill a specific child is working on, I will try to automatically include that we are working on things such as following directions with the target and using the target in conversation. I will try to include examples. And although I may include a bit about how it may be helpful to explain to the student what these types of words do, that is not the goal.
Using the example of prepositions again, I’m thinking it will sound a little something like this: “We’ll be working on prepositions, such as in, on, above, and below. Although we may try to increase his understanding that we’re working on ‘where words,’ I will not be working on him knowing what these words are. Rather, I will target the specific words themselves which he has particular difficulty using in his conversation and understanding when others are talking and giving directions.”
Maybe this is another one of those cases in which a little bit of extra work now can not only benefit the kids and teachers, but also save me from doing more work in the future.