I realized that the first years of teaching in the fab lab were very difficult for my students with special needs. I struggled to provide the extra help that some of these students needed while also teaching the rest of the class. It was frustrating for everyone involved. However, as I worked to make my class more accessible and helpful for these struggling students, I noticed that it also had a positive impact on the other students in the class.
This was a surprise to me, as in my previous experience as a science teacher, I had found that making the material more accessible for struggling students did not necessarily benefit the rest of the class. In contrast, as a maker teacher, I found that focusing on the needs of struggling students actually improved the class for everyone. The impact was greater, at the very least.
To achieve this, I had to start from scratch several times, trying out different approaches and adapting them based on what worked. While I was able to create a class that worked well for most of the students (several times over), I refused to give up on the small number of students who were still struggling. I believe that it is important for all students, including those who struggle in school, to be able to get something meaningful out of Innovative Arts class.
It turns out that the changes that benefit struggling students also benefit the entire class much more than I expected.