Alright, so I’m going in a different direction for this third blog post and I’ll admit I took this idea from many of you in class based on your blog topics from last week. I was reading Jackie’s post on special education and thinking about the clinical project that we have coming up and I agreed that I wasn’t nearly versed enough in the field of special ed. So, as an emerging teacher leader I chose to find a blog that focused on teaching students with special needs. Where was I going to look for this blog? I took some advice from Chelsea’s blog post on an amazing woman who was blogging and creating podcasts and started there. Low and behold, I found a great post titled “Creating a Welcoming Classroom for Students with Special Needs” by Jennifer Gonzalez. I have attached the link for anyone who is wanting to take a look! https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/welcoming-special-ed/
Teacher leaders need to be able to recognize where their own learning is lacking. Teacher leaders need to be able to self reflect and take action when needed. Teaching students with special needs is a topic that I have never received PD on and quite frankly I’m not sure if anything like that has ever been offered in my district. So, I’ve used this opportunity to research the topic through teacher blogs! Special education and teaching students with special needs is an area that I know I could grow in. In the blog post, Jennifer admits that her first time working with special ed students was when she had 12 students with IEPs in her classroom and she was at a loss of how to manage a room with such diverse needs. The one 3-hour college class that was devoted to special education was not sufficient training for her to succeed. Jennifer interviewed Jam Gamble, a special ed teacher, in a podcast and Jam had some great ideas for regular ed. teachers to use.
One of the suggestions that stood out to me was for teachers to express their fears and concerns. Jam suggested emailing parents right at the start of the year. “Ask them about their child. How was their summer? How was school last year? What were goals that you wanted to see manifest last year but didn’t manifest that we could focus on this year? What are things they’re doing outside the school that we could incorporate into their lessons?” These are questions that I will be asking at the start of next year. This would help build that connection with parents before the year even starts. Asking for help and acknowledging that you may need help isn’t something to be ashamed of. In fact I would hope that parents find this type of communication refreshing.
Teacher leaders need to be involved with all stakeholder groups. Building this communication with parents at the beginning of the year would ensure that teachers, parents, and students are all on the same page. Jam goes on to talk about including culturally relevant lessons, consulting with building specialists, reading books that promote diversity and inclusion, and recognizing parents struggles and fears as other helpful suggestions for working with students with special needs.
I look forward to continuing to look into teaching students with special needs as this is going to be my focus for the clinical project.