Skills teacher seeing benefits into boosting student progress

Skills teacher Katlen Bolger has 12 years of special education experience with six years dedicated to specific skills with Peet Junior High. When it comes to helping skills class students keep up with other non-skills class students, Bolger said she believes the supplemental curriculum is helpful because it “fits the student’s individual needs so if they have a writing need I can pre-teach whatever writing concept will happen in their general education English class so they feel more confident, they better understand the skill.” 

That extra instruction ahead of time gives them a boost of confidence and “makes them more on an even playing field,” Bolger said. 

As students work in a skills classroom that is separate from their peers, their attitude toward the extra help can change. In Bolger’s experience, “It depends on the grade-level. Seventh graders really like being in skills; they like one-on-one attention. As soon as they get older I think they don’t like the idea of skills because it looks like a different classroom,” Bolger said. 

Throughout the years that she has taught skills students, Bolger has seen them reach their goals on a consistent basis. “I’ve definitely seen the writing improve just based upon their prior writing, but I definitely see progress, and they do improve,” she said. 

Unfortunately, she said there is one negative downside to the skills program, “Sometimes if a student has a lot of needs like reading, writing and math, they will need skills class time for all three of those. They won’t be able to be in a bunch of electives or at least two electives if their everyday classes are taken by the skills class,” Bolger said. 

Even with this drawback, she said parents are supportive when it comes to skills classes for their children because “it’s a smaller classroom size, normally three to five kids, and they like that their student is getting that individual attention in the area that they need to work on,” so Bolger would recommend putting a child into skills. She said it helps to “re-teach any concept that they are confused on and kids feel more comfortable in the smaller setting with peers.”

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