Advanced research in learning differences, whether it’s a functional MRI or a behavioral genetic study, is only valuable when teachers can actually use that knowledge. So what’s changed? How can teachers stay abreast of current research to make sure that they support every student in the classroom?
Here are a few suggestions from Dr. Michael Hart, a psychologist dedicated to addressing the “gap between what we know about research and how we actually diagnose and treat people.”
- Arm yourself — In order to reach all your students, you will need to stay abreast of current findings. You could go back to school and get a Ph.D. in neuroscience, or you could simply follow a few blogs of cutting-edge researchers. The choice is up to you, but keep yourself in the loop.
- Keep an open mind — Research may contradict previously held ideas you considered to be true, even sacred. Dyslexia, for example, has been shown to affect students’ executive function capacities in domains outside of reading, a finding which surprised many. Our ideas will need to evolve in order to keep up with the latest research.
- Keep your eye on the prize — It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of supposedly ground-breaking research; however, as educators our goal should always be on securing the best outcomes for our students. Watch out for fads and pseudo-science and only select interventions that are evidence based.
These are only a few strategies for applying current research to day-to-day practice. To learn more, come see Dr. Michael Hart at this year’s Learning Differences Conference, March 10–11 at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
- Michael Greschler, M.Ed., SMARTS Program Director