For this interview, I chose to interview one of my good friends who teaches 3rd grade. She has been a mentor to me and leads by example, showing me the ins and outs of teaching. She has been a great help to me since I have been back in school myself! For the purpose of this discussion, we will call her “S.”
S has been teaching for 4 years now and has been employed as a long-term substitute just this past school year in a 3rd grade classroom. When talking with S regarding students with exceptional needs, she was very knowledgeable. When asked how she modifies lessons for students with special needs, she replied with saying that she refers directly to their IEP and plans accordingly. She also mentioned that her favorite way to modify her lessons to reach each of her students is to use manipulatives in the classroom because it has benefited all of her students. When working with children with emotional needs, she offers many brain breaks and time throughout the day to get up and move around! She also mentioned a modification for gifted students. She said that she provides her students with an “unfinished work” folder that consists of assignments and for her gifted students, more challenging work that goes beyond what the whole class is learning.
Regarding parent communication, S says it is “huge!” She starts each school year off with sending a letter home to families over the summer, introducing herself. She keeps in constant contact with parents through the use of technology, especially through sending pictures home to parents of assignment, projects, and fun activities. She mentions that for her students with exceptional needs, it is important to keep an open line of communication with their parents, so that, as a team, everyone can work together to provide the student the best education possible.
I had the opportunity to interview two teachers, which are employed with same public school system. The first teacher is a second grade seasoned teacher, who will be currently moving from this particular school for a new job position. As a licensed teacher she has worked at this school for over 14 years, with numerous administrative change. In conducting my interview, it seems to be a bitter sweet moment for her! When she first arrived at the school, she worked in the Exceptional Children department, and then later to become head of the IEP chair. In which, she had to conduct all meetings, attend county wide meetings, and responsible for the up keeping of documentations. It wasn’t until about 2 years ago, that she began feeling overwhelmed with the amount of children enrolled in her class with IEP’s. The work load was becoming to be intensive. The way she adapted her lesson plan, was always having a back up plan. If one actvity did not work, she implemented the other. But, by knowing the IEP’s of the children, the teacher would first know how to plan activities on the lesson plan! Develop activities, that involves hands on, gain their interest level with limited features. For example, limited sound/ noise, and textures. Know what and how the environment should be, when lesson plan is implementing. Have materials in place, so that you do have to search, stop. The length of time and the overall activity, in the lesson (will it be beneficial, to the diverse learner/ adjust time). The teacher also, mentions how she sometimes work with students in smaller group. Most of her materials are teacher made, for the activity teacher.
The preschool teacher, on the other hand adapts her lesson plan for children with exceptional needs learn by having materials on the carpet in a basket, that surrounds the lesson at hand. The basket is a clothes basket, that has things such as book, toys, puzzles, soft plush animals, writing utensils and paper, pictoral cue, and communication boards. In her program, their lesson plans has to be approved by administrator weekly and then a parent signs it and another staff member signs off. When developing her lesson plan, she mentioned she always think of the pros and cons. Many people think that teaching children with special needs, requires expensive things but actually teacher made things are good, to helping diverse learnings. Time, and the process of the activity in the lesson plan factored too! So, just like the 2nd grade teacher, !
Read the next two posts of the peers below and compare your personal understanding of the dispositions.
I believe Ms. S displayed a great understanding in these dispositions. From the kindness she treats her students with, to the aggressive manner she approaches education, all are fulfilled. Ms. S is willing to adapt and explore new technology with her students, even if it does not apply to all. She has gone above and beyond to make herself available to parents, students, and other staff at her school concerning student’s learning needs. Every day in Ms. S’ class is a new adventure, getting exposure to new materials and new learning methods. However, these new materials and methods do not come without trial and error, which she also takes in great stride with her students. Her commitment to lifelong learning herself is evident, as we had to conduct our interview over the phone because she was at a special education conference to discuss new ways to assess student learning.
Currently I demonstrate an understanding of these dispositions by looking at every one of my students as a child first. I treat them with kindness, fairness, and I also allow my student to freedom to lead conversations, and to attempt new (safe) tasks on their own. Within my lessons, I allow for individual student modification by allowing students to complete tasks in their own desired material or style, when appropriate. Technology is something that was every changing as I was on my own education journey, and I do not see that changing for today’s students. Being able to adapt and utilize new technology with my young students is one of my favorite things to do with them. I am expanding my own professional development and lifelong learning by being enrolled as programs such as this. However, when this program completes, I do plan on attending teaching conferences and such to better understand the evolving world of education.
Based on the interview with Ms. F., I think she followed majority of the dispositions given. I thought when she modified her lessons, she followed the dispositions, “Is committed to fairness” and “Persists in helping students achieve success by applying different approaches until they achieve that success.” She checked to see if students understood the content and then if they didn’t, made the best accommodations possible. I’m sure that she has used technology, but she didn’t discuss that with me. I also know that she believes in children learning at high levels. She wants to give the students the best resources possible to help them achieve, whether it be at school or at home. Also, she is committed to being ethical and respectful towards parents. She likes to communicate and inform her parents on a consistent basis.
When looking at if I am following the dispositions, I think that I am. If I am not following them, I will do so in the future. I feel that I am fair to all students, wanting them to achieve and learn at high levels. With that, I believe that all students should have a chance to learn the same content, but in different ways. If some students are struggling, it is best that I accommodate lessons and make it easier for them to understand. Also, we like to use technology throughout the day. Whether we are watching a video on turtles or are doing math, we make sure that we use the smartboard every day. Lastly, I have always been respectful to others, both professionally and personally. I work well with my colleagues and listen to any suggestions they may have for a child or a lesson. Professional trainings too happen weekly, so I can learn new strategies from different teachers in our district. Also, I communicate openly with my parents, whether it be through notes or face-to-face encounters every day.