I Remember…

Just a few days ago my dad, David White, passed from this earthly realm into eternity.  I wandered through my mind and memories and penned some of those here in his memory.


I remember…

I remember snooping through some papers, finding an address, and sending a letter, sure that it would never reach its final intended destination, and not knowing if I really wanted it to or not.

I remember getting a life-changing phone call on a Wednesday night, while my parents were bowling and my grandmother was watching the kids.  A man on the phone with an unusual accent.

I remember exchanging letters and calls and pictures.

I remember playing basketball at the corner hoop when a huge station wagon pulled up and five familiar faces piled out for a surprise visit.  The first of many “Ice Cream Road Trips.”

I remember the turmoil as I sought to figure out who I was, and whose I was.

I remember that life, my life, began to make more sense, but also became more confusing.  I had found answers but still had so many questions.

I remember meeting the love of my life in the midst of the chaos of my life. Another stabilizing force, but an equally confusing development.

I remember how well everyone fit together when all sides of the family gathered.

I remember the questions that continued gnawing in my mind, and the pain they caused.

I remember the years of wandering as I ran from everything, running toward nothing.

I remember the letter that dissected my heart and life after years of trying to shield it.

I remember that you didn’t give up, even when I thought that was what I wanted, needed.


I remember the birth of my son, named in honor of the heritage, and confusion of my past.

I remember another “Ice Cream Trip,” to meet grandchildren, and my in-laws.

I remember our first trip to “home” and discovering more than a slight connection.

I remember the decision to uproot from all that had become familiar and comfortable.

I remember the challenges and difficulties of making our way to where we belonged all along.

I remember hunting trips, and fishing trips, and rides through the mountains.

I remember long talks, and quiet walks.

I remember praying and praising together.

I remember projects and the smell of sawdust in the building.

I remember the head shake when I was messing up, and the smiles when I repented.

I remember football on the tv and food on the table, and laughter in every room.

I remember the pride when I began to follow God’s call in ministry at last.

I remember the sorrow when following that call meant leaving “home” once again.

I remember the church doors of various churches opening more than a few times on Sunday morning at the end of another “Ice Cream Road Trip,” leaving me flustered at the pulpit.

I remember toolboxes in the back of your truck, “Just In Case” — it was almost always the case.

I remember playing “Papaw Truck” with my kids as we traveled the interstates in search of Overnite Trucking rigs.

I remember cards, letters, calls, and pictures, all eventually giving way to digital media and computer e-communication, perhaps for the better, but sometimes at a loss.

I remember advice, assistance, and affirmations as life changed and I faced varied trials.

I remember celebrations, baptisms, graduations, weddings, anniversaries, joy.

I remember illness, cancer–touching so many seemingly all at once in my life.

I remember the assurance of prayer, of faith, of families who love and care.

I remember waiting for word following surgeries and treatments.

I remember calls to Lewis Gale, some answered, some not.

I remember the victories after each battle, and the faith to face the next one.

I remember your hugs, though you could barely get your arms around my at times, you always managed to.

I remember the call that your days were numbered, and the greatest victory would soon be yours.

I remember the sound of your voice, the grip of your hand, and the smile on your face less than a week ago.

I remember the call that you had left this earthly dwelling, bound for something indescribable.

I remember, and those memories bring smiles, sometimes tears, but always gratitude.

I remember, and I thank God for those memories.

Dave Bentley's portrait.

I will miss you Pops. I will still wait for the doors to the church to swing open on Sunday.  I will still wait for the warmth of that loving embrace in your hugs.  I will still wait for the wry smile to cross your face when you got one of those ideas. I will still wait for morning coffee, and trips to the store together before anyone else was up.


A poem for Easter 2019

by Dave Bentley

He spoke of His Body in the bread

Broken before their eyes

He spoke of blood, crimson red

Shed before their eyes

They jockeyed for position

They fretted over promotion

While He lived before their eyes

He prayed for a different way

While they closed their eyes

He sought a way of escape

While they closed their eyes

But He would yield to His will

The promise of God would be fulfilled

He was seized before their eyes

He bore the stripes of every lash

Beaten bloody before their eyes

The cross lain heavy on His back

As He was led before their eyes

To a hill outside the gate

The price of sin would now be paid

He died before their eyes.

He breathed his last hung on a cross

Suffering there before their eyes

His life would satisfy the cost

Sacrificed before their eyes

The crowd would turn away

As darkness covered the day

It is finished before their eyes

The tomb, the guards, the heavy stone

Sealed before their eyes

The body lain, cold and alone

Dead before their eyes

The garden laying still and quiet

The fading sounds of the crowds and riot

As everyone departed with tear filled eyes

The day of rest had ended

As they opened in their eyes

The stone had been upended

As they saw with their own eyes

And the tomb was cold and bare

The broken body was not there

And they would see Him risen with their own eyes

—“Eyes Have Seen”

Dave Bentley (2019)


Image from IRIS Module (2010)

For all students, typical or disabled, differentiation involves process, the teaching, and product, the pieces of assessment that demonstrate  proficiency. In looking at this over the past few days I found copious resources in a variety of formats. One particularly useful items is the powerpoint linked here (Differentiation Slides).  It is concise and informative and provides examples of differentiation for a variety of subjects.

Interestingly, our PD for the school year has been focused on PBGR (Proficiency Based Graduation Requirements) and I have been part of the team looking at differentiating instruction and assessment.  As a Special Educator working as a co-teacher, this training has been more informative and useful that other PD I have been part of in our district. Between the PD, the IRIS module, and the other resources I’ve been exposed to recently, I feel I have a much better grasp on differentiation in the classroom.

Preparing for Differentiation

Preparing students for differentiation means gradually introducing the process, teaching and learning practices, and providing scaffolding as they learn the system.  Most of what I have read and heard relates that a key part of the process is getting to know the students in the class. What do they possess for prior knowledge? What are their learning styles? Where are their skills and challenges? What is their level of interest?  These steps take time and effort, and in a field where both come at a premium, it is easy to try to shortcut and skip steps. The result of effective planning for differentiation is the potential for successful differentiation. Failing to strategically plan will result in a failure to effectively differentiate.

All it Takes is Time

As a co-teacher in ELA and Math classes I realize that the one thing that I can never seem to have is time.  I have resources, information, texts, and the availability of technology and applications, but carving out time to plan with the content teacher is next to impossible.  We have had to sacrifice and deliberately set time aside to do this effectively. Even with that, however, we still struggle to be as strategic as we would like with differentiating in the classroom.

What does Differentiation Look Like for LD?

I know what differentiation is not, that is the addition of novelties to the classroom intended to substitute for systematically and strategically planned instruction and assessment.  Several years ago I was observing a class as part of my teacher coursework and was very interested in the number of ways technology was used in the classroom. At the time it seemed that the teacher had found ways to keep everyone in the class engaged.  Later, however, I learned that it was frequently done in that class to substitute for poor or absent planning. The philosophy was that keeping the kids engaged on devices at least looked like learning.

This is not to say that a differentiated classroom would be absent of technology, on the contrary the devices may be an integral part of using assistive technology for learning.  However, without meaningful inclusion they are little more than window dressing intended to mask a lack of differentiated instruction.

One class that I observed had students working in stations.  That class provided differentiation through a variety of activities.  There were students working with their hands, students listening to the teacher, students writing or drawing responses to a story, and students talking to each other in a lit. circle.

In the slide show I referenced earlier the presenter shows what differentiation in Math and Reading would involve.  In a nutshell:

  • Variety of Materials (based on level and learning preference)
  • Variety of Levels of Support and Scaffolding
  • Variety of Sensory Opportunities
  • Variety of Interaction Opportunities (Inquiry, Sharing)
  • Variety of Means to Demonstrate Learning


The IRIS Center. (2010). Differentiated instruction: Maximizing the learning

of all students. Retrieved from https://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/module/di/

What If

“What If”

Dave Bentley (1967-)

What if all the stories we’ve been told

Fairy tales and nursery rhymes

Were played out on the world stage

Not just imagined in our minds

And the characters, heroes, and villains

Lived among us every day

What a remarkable world we would live in

It would be a wonderful place


There’d be star crossed lovers

Holding hands across the street

Kissing beneath the moonlight

Whispering words that are so sweet

While evil henchmen hunted

For some treasure they could steal

’til the brave hero captures them

A life of fantasy, a life that’s real.


The eyes and ears of little children

Stirred by those Once Upon a Times

To envision worlds of wonder

To transcend the bonds of time

Gazing ahead unto tomorrow

Leaning back toward yesterday

Resting still within the present

Living their story out today


There would be the swoosh of dragon wings

Cutting the silence of the night

And a princess trapped in a tower

Awaiting the arrival of a brave knight

Enchanted mirrors reflecting faces

Of the folks who search for fame

WHile sorcerers and witches gather

In a secret hidden cave


The things that dream are made of

Could be the things that life becomes

If imaginary creatures

Made our world their home

And the cheerful glee of children

Would be heard near and far

As fantasy meets reality

To see things as they really are.


“What If” by Dave Bentley (2016)

A Note Home from Mr. B.

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Hi All,
Once in a while, I feel the need to send a note reminding parents to be aware of what kids are watching and doing at home.  This is not intended as a judgment of your family values, but as a caution related to how those influences translate into behavior at school.  Please believe that I want the best for your student and their experience in our school.
That said, there are two particular things that are showing a significant influence on student behavior in the classes where I co-teach and in the school as a whole.  The YouTube sensation Jeffy the Rapper shows up in phrases and gestures by students as they mimic his behavior.  I encourage you to read the attached webpage (linked here) related to how Jeffy’s influence has a negative impact on students.
The second is the uber-popular video game Fortnite.  Here is a link to a page related to FORTNITE PAGE.  The challenge is something that becomes so consuming for students it that it tends to monopolize their thinking and leaves little room for effort related to learning and academics.
I would not presume to tell you what to do.  I simply want you to be aware of the influences of outside elements within the school.  There will always be something, PopCulture will filter in somehow.  The more adults are aware of these things, the better prepared they will be to guide students through those influences.
Enjoy the Journey,
Dave Bentley (dbentley@ssdvt.org)
Teacher on 6th Grade Team
Riverside Middle School
Springfield, Vermont
(802) 885-8436

Make Mistakes

If you have made a mistake raise your hand.  That’s right, all of us should have our hands up, perhaps with some enthusiastic waving because we have all made mistakes, and some of them have been doozies.  Let’s explore a few other questions.

  • Has a mistake ever made you quit?
  • Has a mistake ever cost you more than you expected?
  • Has a mistake ever hurt yourself or people you care about?

It’s likely that we all answered in the affirmative with those questions.  These and other reasons are why we fear making mistakes.  We don’t like to be wrong.  We don’t like to feel as if we have failed.  It can be embarrassing.  It can hurt.  It can cost.  As a result we may avoid situations where we could potentially make a mistake.  We are particularly wary of circumstances where mistakes might be public.  It might be that we don’t raise our hands in class.  Perhaps we avoid volunteering for committees or teams where we work or worship.  Maybe we have refused to host the annual family reunion.  Fear of mistakes and failure can keep us from a number of things.  It may be that avoiding mistakes and the possibility of failure has cost us opportunities.

Let’s explore a couple of other questions:

  • Can you think of a way that you learned something from a mistake?
  • Can you think of a time that a mistake lead you in different, and ultimately better direction?

A few years ago we were traveling through the Smokey Mountains on a family trip.  I had taken a wrong turn, and ended up well off course.  However, we found a number of interesting things along that accidental detour that made the mistake worth making.  Another mistake I recall is a dish that my mother once made with or Thanksgiving leftovers.  It was supposed to be soup, but she had accidentally doubled parts of the recipe.  What resulted is a delicious casserole that we dubbed Turkey Mistake.  To this day it remains one of our favorite post holiday dishes.

The challenge for us is to view mistakes through a different lens.  To see them as opportunities and not as endings.  The clip below of an acronym for mistakes gives us some sage advice for positive ways of viewing our missteps.

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The difference is determined by whether we will permit the mistakes we make to stress us or strengthen us.  It’s not that the mistakes will become less painful, costly, or embarrassing.  Rather, it is that we would recognize mistakes as a natural (and intended) part of learning and growing as human beings.

Don’t be afraid to mess up, you might discover that the mistake you make leads to even better things than you initially planned to accomplish.

Emotional-Behavioral Resources

Dave Bentley – Emotional & Behavioral Issues in Special Education

Fall, 2017

This blog post contains resources related to Special Education and working with students who may have emotional or behavioral challenges.  The resources are intended to provide teachers and other staff with links to sites and information that assist in meeting the needs of students, establishing supports for students, and tracking progress of students.  If you are a teacher or administrator please leave a comment with other resources that you have found helpful. 


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Positive Behavior Intervention and Support

The Website indicates that PBIS intends to improve the effectiveness, efficiency and equity of schools and other agencies by improving social, emotional and academic outcomes for all students.  While there are benefits for students with special needs, there are also benefits for the school as a whole.


PBIS WORLD – http://www.pbisworld.com/

PBIS World is a comprehensive and invaluable resource of forms and information related to MTSS and the implementation of a PBIS strategy for classrooms and schools.  I encourage people to spend some time exploring the site and learning how to navigate through the materials available for the three tiers of support.


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Responsive Classroom – https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/ 

Responsive Classroom is an evidence-based approach to education that focuses on the strong relationship between academic success and social-emotional learning (SEL). The Responsive Classroom website provides links to training, information, and resources for implementing the strategy in the school and classroom.  While primarily employed with younger students, middle level learners also can benefit from the structure and practices of Responsive Classroom.


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A Site for Behavioral Forms

 Documents for a Systematic Behavioral Analysis (FBA)

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Articles Related to EB Issues:

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  Dave Bentley is a Special Educator in Springfield, Vermont.