Our Most Valuable Resources
by: Esther Tarkieltaub MA. Ed
Needless to say, our children are our most valuable resources. When a child has learning challenges, they often learn a different way or thrive best when learning in a different setting than the regular classroom for a period of time during the day. Visiting a resource room gives children with learning differences the ability to learn according to their unique needs and receive the individualized, differentiated instruction they require.
Several years ago, I took a student that I was tutoring for ice cream at an outdoor ice cream café. A former student who is now married, holds a prestigious job, and has a beautiful daughter approached me. Immediately I recognized the little boy I knew from years ago who had found comfort in the resource room at the age of five. “Mrs. Tarkieltaub, we love the gift you gave us for our wedding. We use it every Shabbat,” he said.
His wife joined us and asked, “Why is it that every time your name is mentioned [my husband] goes wild over you? What did you do for him?” I related to her in ear shot of my current student that when he was in kindergarten, his family was going through a challenging time. When he had difficulty focusing in his mainstream class and became disruptive, he was frequently permitted to visit the resource room to do some work, have quiet time and receive positive messages. “I made him feel safe,” I explained to his wife.
My little second grade student who had overheard the conversation chimed in: “You did the same for me.” I responded to him that I thought I taught him reading skills. “Yes, you did. But whenever I had problems with another student … you took care of it. You also made me feel safe.” His words reminded me how critical it is for children to have a safe, judgment-free space where they learn the tools they need to grow.
Resource rooms provide a safe haven where students can make mistakes safely and without fear of judgement; learn to their strengths; and make slow and steady progress. Students in these safe spaces often feel comfortable enough to show vulnerability and share their struggles. Resource room teachers have the ability to make a difference, help children build self-confidence, and empower students to understand their learning style so they can develop their strengths in all areas. For resource rooms to be effective, they require educators who can connect with each individual student, see their unique strengths and challenges, and facilitate their academic and emotional growth. Successful resource room teachers focus on every child’s strengths – what they can do – and celebrate every milestone with them.