For this course, ‘Educating Exceptional Students’, I was asked to complete a peer review document (attached at the end of this post) in which I researched journals and articles around a topic of my choosing, and then summarized the findings of the texts in my own essay submission. I chose the topic of Standardization as it affects English Language Learners, and it was valuable to me in many ways.
First, I was glad for the opportunity to focus on English Language Learners in a course that otherwise mostly discussed students with behavior or learning disorders. As ELLs are indeed considered exceptional students, and are in fact a population I expect to work with significantly (being an ELL endorsement candidate), it was valuable for me to focus my research on this student population in the context of the overall general education classroom, rather than on teaching and learning strategies specific to ELLs, as most of my endorsement classes have done. Likely, I will be a general education classroom teacher with a high population of ELL students in my class, rather than a focused ELL specialist, so this assignment allowed me to explore how something that applies to all students affects ELLs more specifically. As a result, I will not only be a better teacher to my ELL students, but I will be a more effective general education classroom teacher overall.
Additionally, I found this assignment helpful because of how well it fit in with the learning I was doing in my other courses at the time. In another class I was examining the realities of ELL education in Washington state, so by diving into peer-reviewed journals and other documents on the subject of ELLs and standardized testing, my research was not only justified for this assignment, but my overall learning for my other coursework was significantly enhanced as well. This assignment stretched me as a learner, an educator of exceptional students, and as an advocate for English Language Learners. The holistic knowledge I gained as a result of this assignment will serve to help me approach teaching in a more holistic manner as well, understanding that no issue in education exists in isolation, but rather is intertwined with countless other considerations as well. Examining and allowing for these connections is what will make me the best educator I can be.