Friday, February 20, 2009

All in a Day's Work... of Teaching

I am a 7th grade special ed teacher in a public school. This makes up a huge part of who I am, what I think about, how I view education, disabilities, teenagers, parents, math, writing, etc. Oddly enough, today I realized that I don’t think I’ve ever made a blog post about my teaching. Most of the blogs I read are of my friends from college or seminary and since most are my age(ish), most of them are moms that are posting pics of their kids, their thoughts on parenting, etc. Since we don’t have kids yet, I guess I don’t normally think I have anything post-worthy unless we’ve been on a trip, had a special occasion, or have pics to post.

As I think through my day today, though, I realize that it is post-worthy. I need this outlet for reflection and for my own reference. I also desperately need input from other Christians who are special education teachers! So here is the first post of what will hopefully be many others related to my teaching.

Today I:

-helped students cut out “nets” of graph paper to cover plastic boxes as they learned about surface area & volume – the curriculum we use has the kids use manipulatives and hands-on activities to learn the concepts behind things rather than just giving them formulas. I was SHOCKED by one student in particular who I never knew had such poor fine motor skills. I had to help him trace and cut each design. I wonder why this student has such difficulty in this area? I wonder how I can help him overcome this? A 7th grader’s cut-outs should not look like a 2nd graders!

-had my summative evaluation w/ my supervisor and she gave me “proficient” in all categories of my job w/ 4 “superiors”!! (No “needing improvements”!)…This after praying for some affirmation in my job at community group on Wed. Praise the Lord!

-encouraged students in their writing as they responded to the prompt “What is the biggest problem teens face today?” I was amazed at their insights and honesty as they wrote about bullying (including cyber bulling), stress at school, peer pressure, and drugs/smoking. I helped students w/ disabilities in written expression get set up on the laptops to type their essays, prompted students w/ severe ADHD to take drink breaks then come back and re-focus, encouraged a student who has autism who was having a “meltdown” to go talk to the guidance counselor, and told several kids that I was proud of their “voice” in their writing (“It really sounds like you talking!!”).

-I encouraged a student who was having a bad day that he can make changes to his behavior. He feels like the other kids always tell on him and that I automatically believe them over him. I told him he needs to prove to me that it’s not him, but that when 5 kids that I trust are all telling me that it is him making faces, throwing things at them, etc. that I have no choice but to believe them. I reminded him that he is a good kid and that I really like him, and that other students will like him too, but that he needs to stop the behaviors that are annoying the other students! I told him that that’s hard to hear but it’s just part of growing up and maturing, and that I knew he could make positive changes.

-I talked several students through their mistakes on their math test over linear equations. I really enjoy this individual time w/ students and the opportunity to help them succeed in the general education curriculum. I like that I can advocate on my students’ behalf to the general education teachers that they are legally entitled (due to their IEPs – Individual Education Plans) to make corrections on their tests and that it’s an opportunity for re-teaching and finding where their patterns of errors lie.
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