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Dr. Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Making Real Change

 Real Change / Deep Change / Lasting Change

As I inch closer to retirement, I think about my quest to be a changemaker more and more.  I feel a passion about seeing change that is:  

Real Change:  Not just surface change such as shiny technology, or cutesy boom cards, but TRUE change that leads to life changes for the learners that we serve.  Change such as:

- Helping learners develop comprehensive literacy to the highest level possible.  This must include all of the components of literacy, including generative writing with the alphabet.

- Supporting people who use AAC in using their systems to engage with the world, beyond wants and needs, sharing who they really are, and empowering them.

• Deep Change: This means helping educators, families, and learners develop cognitive clarity, so that they understand what they are doing, why they are doing it, and what the outcomes will be.  (See Erickson & Koppenhaver, Comprehensive Literacy for All, 2020, p. 20)

• Lasting Change: Education is fickle and sometimes change can be short-lived.  And sometimes that might be a good thing, such as the push for 'errorless learning' (good teachers  know that when learners make errors it shows what they are thinking, and helps us target our instruction).  But when we make some real, deep changes, we hope that they can last. Some lasting changes are about stopping practices that we have done for years.  Others are adding new practices that make a difference. Samples of change that we hope is lasting include:

- Going beyond just sight word instruction in teaching reading.

- Recognizing that hand-over-hand instruction is not good practice, and is harmful to learners.

- Acknowledging that copying and tracing are just sensorimotor tasks and do NOT lead to generative writing with the alphabet.

- Creating alternative pencils, modeling them, and using them for generative writing.

- Developing robust communication systems for all learners, including learners with multiple challenges.

The above quote by Albert Einstein is especially powerful.  Are we smart enough to change?  


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