VIEWS: 1 PAGES: 11 POSTED ON: 9/16/2012
1 What advice would you give to a 1st year teacher or 1st year special education teacher? Teacher is to be ready for all the ARD (Assessment, Review, Dismissal) meetings you will be involved in with parents and administrators. Be confident in what you are doing in your classroom or therapy with the children. ????, Special Education 3rd Grade Teacher, Round Rock School District. From Anita Tansil. Always ask questions. I recommend that a teacher get to know the child on their own terms without preconceived notions first then go back and review all relevant information. A teacher who spends time with his/her students is able to observe and reflect so that an assessment can be made using the latest information. A teacher should also ask questions or seek assistance from another teacher who might have had a similar experience (someone with at least 5 years experience). There are also many resources and support available (the principal, facilitator, or coordinator, and others). Finally, a teacher should be an advocate for each child. You are that child’s lifeline. Go to bat for them, even put your life on the line for them!! Ms. Sherry Summers-Anderson, 30+ year, with 10 years in Lockhart ISD and currently an ESL teacher. From Lydia Nava. My advice to first year teachers it to NEVER TAKE IT PERSONAL! When a teacher has a student with behavioral issues it can get very frustrating when they act out against you, but the best thing to do is not take it personal. Ms. Lindsey Hintz, Hays ISD, 4 years SPED teacher and 2 years as a behavioral specialist. From Michelle Broussard. Make sure you make time for yourself. Don’t think you are going to solve everyone’s reading or math problems. Do what you can and don’t try to do every strategy you have learned in class. Pick a few and do those well. Ms. Amy Scott, special education teacher, Lehman HS, Hays ISD. From Logan Pearce. The advice I would give to a new special education teacher: get to know all the teachers you will be working with. It is very important that you, special education teacher, and the classroom teacher are on the same page. I would also advise that you become very familiar with the state law and Admission, Renewal, and Dismissal (ARD) meetings. Ms. Stacy Tarry, special education teacher, Berkman Elementary, Round Rock, TX. From Olga Negrete. 2 In working with students, try to determine what the needs of the students are and be sure you are working to meet the students' needs and not your own. Mr. John W. Tiffee, special education teacher for 9 years, Kyle Elementary. From Stan Vinet. Honestly, It’s the paperwork. At my school we have additional students to the ones we have in classes. We have to make sure they are doing okay and make sure they are doing good in their classes. This is a lot of additional work and paperwork to keep up with. So, have enough time in the day to get everything done. Also, having all the necessary materials that are needed. Ms. Amy Scott, special education teacher, Lehman HS, Hays ISD. From Logan Pearce. Don’t give up! Your first year is suppose to be crazy and it gets easier with time. The best thing you can do is to use your support system, such as team members, mentors, and counselors. Do not hesitate to go to them with your questions. You should use the advice and guidance they give you. Ms. Mendiola, special education teacher, 2 years experience, Pecan Springs Elementary, Austin ISD, Region 13 certified. From Laila Nabi. The first year is the roughest. Don’t give up and quit the profession. It is an extremely rewarding career. Find someone you respect and want to emulate. Go to them for advice. Observe quality teachers and try their techniques. Carol Wilson, special education teacher for 8 years, speech therapist for several years prior to special education status, Grisham Middle School. From Margaret Matchett. Plan to work at home on weekends and over “breaks,” as there is way too much to do in our 7.25 hour school day (6.5 hours teaching and 0.75 hour break/lunch). Plan on working through your lunch or break. Then there are the many required meetings. We have 30 meetings in a 10-month school year. These meetings take time out of your schedule as well as before and after school time. There are also IEP (Individual Education Plan) meetings, which add another 40 more meetings 1 to 2 hours each before/after school. Almost forgot to include about 25 hours of “adjunct” duty (time we are required to do for PTA, ice cream socials, open house days, committee duty etc.) by year’s end. There is a saying that when people hear the word “teacher” they think vacation, vacation, vacation. Well, you will need those “vacations” to finish up your work, prepare for another school year, and then relax. In addition, we do not get paid for any of those “vacations.” Our work year has 187 days. I have been worked 3 summer school since I started teaching 14 years ago. It is hard to spread out a 10 month paycheck over 12 months. Yes, teaching can be rewarding, but very exhausting and not many people outside of education know this. So remember that when you put in all that extra time and effort you are helping to shape the future of America! A very noble job! Lara Husting (aunt), special education teacher 14+ years experience, San Jose, CA. From Carrie Lewis. Be flexible. My first day I showed up with a schema of what school teaching was all about (teacher in front of the class going through the lesson). I quickly realized that it was not anything like I had thought. New special education teachers will most likely not use my original schema. You get into teaching because you love kids. What you don’t realize at first is that you’re always with adults, especially in special education. You plan meetings, do parent involvement, interact with instructional assistants, diagnosticians, and specialists. All this can be overwhelming at first. It is important to work in teams and foster a relationship with a mentor. Finding someone who will help you with all the paperwork and other ins and outs can allow a young teacher to really focus on the major things like developing a teaching style and getting to know your kids. Keep your sense of humor. The job is too much fun not to smile. Cathy Hill, Life Skills teacher, 28 years experience, several years at the Travis State School and a hospital school. Rosedale School. From Matthew Armstrong. Organization is critical. You will need a spot for everything. You will need access to your student’s information at a moment’s notice. You will need access to your students’ information at a moment’s notice. For instance, I keep track of testing requirements and special needs for my students on a spreadsheet so that on the day of testing, I am ready to go and the students don’t have to wait for me to figure out what to do. Ms. Bard Looney, special education teacher, Jollyville Elementary. From Carrie Lewis. I would advise a new teacher to be organized–to find a method of organization that best suits you. Doing so will help you stay ahead of the paper work. It is also important, especially for a SPED (special education) teacher to be accepting of the differences in learning among children. SPED kids often have low self- 4 esteem, which affects their work. It is ESSENTIAL to encourage and motivate them and to help them feel successful. Pam Tome, special education teacher, 29 years experience total in both regular education and special education classrooms. Pond Springs Elementary. From Lalitha Shetty. I would strong advise to the first year teacher to have a lot of patience with the children. It is not the children’s fault they sometimes misbehave. We have so many different special education kids: autism, bipolar, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), and others. All of them are precious and talented kids and special in their own way. We have to have a great understanding towards them because their minds do not function properly like normal kids. I would give them lots of love and caring and the comfort that they need. Mrs. Roya Tabrizi, former special education teacher, Roseville Elementary School in Sacramento, CA. I know I made a difference in my students when they demonstrated growth and academic gains, showed willingness and readiness to come to class, and had fewer absences. Once the year was done they would come back and visit. I also know I made a difference when I would receive positive feedback from parents. Diana Rodriguez, Retired 3rd and 5th grade teacher (10 years) and administrator (8 years as vice principal and 7 years as Human Resources Superintendent. From Veronica Rodriguez. Always, always teach to their strengths NOT their weaknesses. You must really know your students in order to accomplish this and so must observe closely. Teaching to their strengths is a sure way to open them up and have them trust you and at the same time, allow them to take small steps to believe in themselves as well, because SE (special education) students need to experience small successes more than regular kids. So if you really know your student, he/she will feel that you care about them. And once they know this they will work very hard for you. They don’t want to embarrass themselves in front of you. You must have stuff for them to do, use props and anything you can to help the child learn. Don’t give up and eventually they’ll get it. Remember: know your objective, create the tasks toward your objective, and keep breaking down the tasks to smaller steps as needed. It is very rewarding. Ellen Kallman, special education teacher, retired. From Mercedes Newman. Be on p’s and q’s. Keep up with the paperwork and lesson planning. Don’t be too ambitious and fall behind. Focus on the minimum and do more later. 5 Tina Waddy, special education teacher, Pecan Springs Elementary, Austin ISD, 4 years at Elgin HS and 1 year at Pecan Springs Elementary. From Erica Poole. Take it one day at a time! The paperwork will get done. Being a positive influence on the students’ lives is more important, but knowing the curriculum you are teaching is a close second. Carol Baber, special education teacher, 26 years experience (22 in special education and 4 in regular education). Bethel Middle School, Bryant ISD. From Lara Huff. I would advise a first year teacher to take every opportunity they can to learn from a few well-respected teachers. Try not to sign up for too much (coaching, cheerleading, club sponsoring, etc.). You might burn out too fast. Plus, your first year is your biggest learning curve. Take your time to perfect your technique. Be careful who you trust because teachers gossip just as much as students do. Create your class management ASAP!! Although its repetitive, go over it every day for the first 6 weeks and every day after a holiday or long break. Rebecca Garza, Richardson North Jr. High School, first year special education teacher. From Lara Huff. Patience. Also it is important to expect mistakes and don’t think that everything will work according to what is planned. It’s a learning experience. Our mission statement is “Make new mistakes everyday.” Tracy Word, special education teacher, Hays ISD. From Yolanda Argueta. Documentation and modification are two key components of Special Education. There are many legal requirements in the public school system, especially regarding life skills and special education. It is clearly important to document a student’s progress (list what works, what doesn’t, and methods that have been tested). Merit Phillips, high school special education teacher, 10 years experience, Westlake High School, Eanes ISD. From Katherine Irvine. I would recommend keeping up with codes and laws for special education. Know specifics of each individual students and record everything. Norma Schendel, special education teacher, 10 years experience, Yorktown Elementary School. From Danielle Lassmann. Be PATIENT and don’t try and implement every new thing that comes along. Start slow and do what you do well. Build a relationship with the kids. It is 6 crucial for them and believe in them. Half of the battle is getting them to think they can do things. Love them and hold them to high standards also. Don’t dumb down the curriculum. Millie Canty, Interventionist. Callison Elementary and Yolanda Crawford, 5th grade, Callison Elementary, Round Rock ISD. From Braulio Gonzalez- Alvarez. The best advice I could possibly give a first year special education teacher is to realize that it will be a year with a huge learning curve. Just as a medical intern learns more during their residency period via hands-on procedures and attending lectures, a teacher will learn by doing hands-on teaching in their own classroom. Be patient and realize that it will take at least one full school year to learn how to approach each and every student in one’s class because each student will not respond to one universal approach (academically and behaviorally). One example is the autistic student who gets upset often. If the teacher uses a stern voice with the student to fix his behavior, the student reacts in a negative way, making behavior even worse. Then there is another student with a severe case of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Using a stern voice to correct this student’s bad behavior is very effective. In other words, I advise every teacher to realized that their first year will be difficult and take a lot of patience in order to see what works with each student. Eric Jenne, 4 years experience, Blanton Elementary, Austin ISD. Advice 1: Anxiety and worry are a common and perfectly healthy occurrence among new teachers. After all, you are doing something for the first time and while you are doing it, many people are going to be watching. One of the best methods of managing nerves is to do adequate preparation. Ensuring you are fully prepared gives you a sense of confidence and “back up” that is likely to absent should you try to “wing it” with your new classroom. If you know the material and have thought about how you will share it with students, you are much less likely to feel nervous before or during your class. “Even very experienced teachers and presenters ensure they are prepared thoroughly before they start and instruction!”New teacher might want to visit the room where you will conduct your class. Have a good look around, stand at the front and imagine the students in front of you. Pace around and sit down. Of course, even though it is likely to help do so, adequate or even thorough preparation may not put you completely at ease. You may have to consciously manage your anxiety as the time for the first class approaches. Advice 2: Go over the assessment. Inform explicitly and go over clearly with students to make sure what they will be graded through the semesters. Students will be very interested in how they are going to be assessed in each subject. Do allow opportunities 7 for students to ask questions about the assessment. Aspects which are usually useful to discuss: the overall assessment schedule and due dates for assignments, departmental policy and process for getting extensions and/or special consideration, weighing of assessment tasks, and how students can access past exam papers. Advice 3: Set the ground rules. A group or an institution function better when there are clear understanding of “the rules,” especially in school. This is because school consists of diverse perspectives, beliefs, and cultures in and out of the classroom. If this shared understanding is not established in a classroom, students can become very confused about boundaries and can affect their decision to participate. Establishing clear ground rules or expectations for student behavior is therefore very important, and may prevent classroom problems later. It might even be possible to negotiate some or most ground rules with the group. Discuss expectations about what will go on in the class. It is a good idea to record the agreed upon ground rules for later reference. Advice 4: Be skillful when dealing with offensive students. This is best avoided by including something in your ground rules or expectations that proactively discourages such contributions. However, if a student does say something offensive, the best thing to do is to immediately make a statement that indicates you will not tolerate such comments. You must ensure that you do not engage in a debate with the offending student or in any way further inflame the situation. Be polite but firm. For example, while you are entitled to your opinion and we live in a country that allows free speech, I cannot allow comments like that in this class. Some students find your comments very offensive. Please respect the views of all students when you make a comment here.” Move on quickly. If the student protests, tell him/her that you are happy to discuss the situation further after class but that you don’t want to take class time away from other students. Seek help from a senior staff member when necessary. Anney Kao. Working on her master’s degree in special education, University of Texas-Austin. Will intern in Pflugerville ISD in February 2009. From Wan Sin Lim. My advice to any first year teacher is patience! Lots of patience! No matter how much you have prepared it is going to be overwhelming at first. Just keep forging ahead and remind yourself that it will only get easier over time. Have the patience to remember that this is your first time. You will learn and grow as the days go by. Brenda Gillen, special education teacher, Arlington, TX. From Lauren Field. 8 To meet the individual needs of the students with the current staffing and funding. Ginger Turner, special education teacher with 15 years experience, Murchison Middle School, Austin ISD. From Raini Lott. I would recommend a book entitled “How to Talk so Children Will Listen and How to Listen so Children Will Talk.” This book is an excellent teaching tool on how to interact with children which is one of the key components in teaching. I would also let them know that it does get easier the next year because you are familiar with what is expected from you from the school. However, teaching is never easy because every year you get new students who will challenge you differently than the year before. But there is nothing more rewarding than when a student who struggles does well on a test. Ms. Ana Garcia, 7th grade math teacher, Dripping Springs Middle School. From Miriam Lee. My advice for first year special education teachers is to keep the lesson plans simple. Think about what the objectives are and pick one to focus on. Use few words and communicate very simply. Find an easy way to model/demonstrate a lesson that won’t go over their heads. Don’t expect the students to achieve all objectives everyday. Any measurable progress is still progress. Also, try not to get overwhelmed and do not be afraide to ask for help. Locate your on-campus mentor, be sure to make contact with them early on, and use them as a daily or weekly resource. Mrs. Sandy Anderson, special education teacher, 5 years experience. From Steve Anderson. Be firm with your students so that you will not lose them from the beginning. You can’t be their buddy alone or things will not run smoothly. You must stick to your rules and don’t sway from them. This will keep your classroom more in order. Mr. Meckley. From Brad Meckley. It is very important to be flexible and to shift gears quickly. You have to know what each of your students are capable of doing and be ready to move on when they have reached their limit (this will help avoid meltdowns). Each day can bring different attitudes and willingness to work. Be ready with different ideas to get the students engaged. Ms. Farra Copley, Menchaca Elementary School. From Rolando Negrete. “Hang in there!” All first year teachers will experience some rough times but it is the ones who are able to work through these difficult situations who will go on 9 to be successful. “Be flexible!” Every student and situation will be a little different. Learn to be somewhat flexible and try to do what is best for the student in each particular situation. ????, special education teacher, private, state funded and non-profit elementary school. From Kevin Brown. As a first year teacher, having a mentor or supervisor to speak with and answer questions was not only helpful but also a saving grace. I was able to ask questions and learn different organizational techniques. During the beginning of the school year, I was literally a mess. I walked in with a degree thinking I was ready to conquer the world or at least the students in my class and I fell flat on my face. It was not until the last three months of the school year did I finally get the hang of things. I kept my head above water but was still discouraged and decided to not come back as a special education teacher. My first year was not ideal, but I learned a lot during my seven year teaching career. I enjoy teaching, but I do not think I will ever return to teaching special education students. Ms. Sylvia Carmona, 6 years as a 5th grade teacher and 1 year as a special education teacher. From Giselda Camarena. I would tell a first time teacher to enjoy teaching the kids, embrace the accomplishments of your students, and most importantly have fun. Being a teacher is without a doubt one of the most rewarding jobs, and you will feel that every single day when you see those kids learning and having fun at the same time. Lauren Kentor, former special education teacher. From Megan Walton. I would advise a 1st year teacher to view each student and situation on an individual basis and to treat each scenario in its own special way. I believe that an educator must be aware of the diverse needs of learners in a classroom and be able to identify students with disabilities or special needs. In order to identify each student’s disabilities a teacher must be knowledgeable about special education. Consequently, the teacher needs to develop skills and strategies that benefit disabled and special needs students individually. Albert Chapa, Barbara Jordan Elementary, Austin ISD. From Emilce J.P. Perez. Be organized and have info prepared and ready for progress reports for parents. Understand that these parents are often trying to do their best. So keep in touch and have things ready when you have parent-teacher conferences. Ms. Martha Hernandez, special education teacher, retired. San Antonio ISD. From Daniela Hernandez-Mena. 10 Stay calm. You can’t expect to be completely organized the entire time. You can’t do everything and be everywhere at once and no matter how much you try, things will happen beyond your control and you just have to learn to take it as it is and don’t let it get to you. Ms. Suzanne Wallis, Andrews Elementary School. From Alexandra Becker. Be really clear and explicit and be really, really consistent. If you can do these two things, then you will do well. Ms. Heather Hatten, Martin Middle School, 3 years resource language arts and 8th grade inclusion, and 2 years general education in Washington state. From Julie Edgeworth. I always found if I spoke in a somewhat lower voice, it kept the entire (classroom) atmosphere calmer and they (students) kept quiet (enough) to be able to hear. Just never loose your cool. They may enjoy that, especially in the beginning. The advice someone gave me once: be an actor, it will make your lectures fun and they will pay attention. Don't be afraid to act out to make it more understandable for them or compare things to every day things in their life. Have fun with the kids and you won't have problems. ????. From Zoe Howard. I would tell you to keep an open mind and don’t go “by the books” with everything. I promise that not everything you learn in college today will be right tomorrow; that’s how fast things are changing. Figure out your own way to do things that are best for YOUR students and not what somebody else thinks is the best practice. ALWAYS, ALWAYS put your students and their needs before all else. Remember that they are human and most of them deal with a lot outside school walls. Be compassionate, first as a person and then as a student. Thins will aways fall into place a lot better for them and you. Make sure your kids know that you believe in them, and you want to get them to believe in themselves!! Michelle Holler, special education teacher, 2 years experience. Pflugerville Middle School, Pflugerville ISD. From Vernonica Rodriguez. You really must keep your sense of humor!! Know that change is coming. You just don’t know when. Just love your kids. There’s really nothing more… Mrs. Tiner, special education teacher with 20 years experience. Kelly Lane Middle School. From Pam Brown. In my opinion, the biggest challenge for a first year teacher is having confidence. You work with everyone from other teachers to parents to principals. You have 11 to be able to believe that you know what you are doing and when you don’t know. Its okay to ask. It is always okay to ask! Better to do that than really mess something up. Jacob Thomas, 3rd year special education teacher, grades 10-12th. Round Rock High School. From Kate Moorhead. Take time to set up the environment that you want at the beginning of the year. Even if it takes a month to get class rules and procedures done. It makes learning later on easier and more manageable. Lauren White, 4th year special education teacher, Williams Elementary, Austin ISD. From Amrit Ramos.
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