I spent one week in Charlotte, five full days, in the Schools Attuned Subject Specialist course. I need to complete a practicum and portfolio in order to earn CEU credit, which will be quite a few credits. Plus, I can do this online, so that works out great.
My first thought on completing the course is that I wish I’d had it as part of my teacher ed training or had taken it earlier. Some of my peers were somewhat daunted by the terminology that Dr. Levine uses, but it didn’t really bother me much. Basically, Levine breaks down learning, or neurodevelopment into the following constructs:
- Social Cognition
- Spatial Ordering
- Temporal/Sequential Ordering
- Higher Order Cognition
- Neuromotor Functions
The first thing I wanted to do after completing the workshop was “attune” (evaluate, figure out areas of strenth and weakness) myself and my daughter. It was kind of like after I took psychology and wanted to figure out what my loved ones’ mental issues were.
I noted that all of the participants were from private schools. Most taught at schools that specialized in students with learning disabilities. It seems to me that it would be easier for a private school to implement the Schools Attuned program across the board, but I don’t think that individual public school teachers would have much of a problem trying it in their own classrooms.
One of the things I really liked about the program is that you have a handy glossary that gives examples of what students who have strengths or weaknesses in each neurodevelopmental construct look like. It’s like having a mini-rubric. I think it will help me pinpoint students’ strengths and weaknesses much more quickly. I also think it will help me better help students, as I can locate management strategies in my notebook that will work with students’ specific weaknesses.
I should back up and say that a lot of the strategies are things that good teachers already do. However, I think it is handy to have the notebook of management strategies anyway. For one thing, it will save a lot of time.
One of the things our facilitator said is that most teachers don’t learn how people learn in ed schools; rather, they learn theory. She’s partly right about that, I think. This class would have been great to have in ed schools.
I know that Levine’s non-labeling approach is not exactly practical in a school system that requires labels in order to help students; however, in my school, I can very well see how a smaller private school could make this work. I do think Levine’s system makes sense. Often times, a student’s problems are much more complex than ADD. If you used Schools Attuned to evaluate a student, you might learn more about his/her strengths and weaknesses and be better able to help him/her.
Frankly, if I may level with you, I think it will be extremely helpful in terms of talking with parents. I can foresee being able to use the information I learned to explain what students’ particular problems are. I will admit to not always being able to do that. I can tell, for instance, that there is an attention problem, but not necessarily what kind or where the breakdown occurs.
The course’s pricetag is quite hefty. I do not know that it is practical for most people to take it for that reason alone. However, if the tuition is not too daunting, I have to say I recommend it highly.
If you have questions about it (and I am able to answer — I did sign an agreement with regards to copyrighted information), then please leave them in the comments and I’ll respond.