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Amy
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Sigh. "Paperwork specialist." This is something I'm trying to embrace. I am a fairly organized person thanks to my "J" personality on the Myers-Briggs scale, but in terms of data collection and accurate recording I flounder. I also tend to view things more philosophically than quantitatively, embracing the story and image (my undergraduate degrees are in English and fine art) rather than the numbers. What I need to do is persuade myself to see how the numbers can help me compose a more accurate story. I related to all of your comments but am reminded too of things I've seen that work effectively in classrooms I've been placed in. I do like the binder for each student idea with sample academic work. When I had to write a re-evaluation report for one of her students, the teacher simply handed me a binder of their work and let me explore. To address the far more difficult behavioral goals, my current mentor keeps a record of when students' names move colors and the reason why they moved. When she was recently writing a new IEP for one student, she was able to look back on the data and realize that while he still exhibits aggressive behavior toward other students, the severity and frequency of the attacks has decreased. I also enjoyed reading through the ideas Daniel Dale offered. I hope you keep your philosophical bent. I think creativity and a desire to see underlying causes behind student struggles is equally if not more important than meticulous daily records.
I'm looking forward to the photos! In the meantime, I enjoyed visiting JennyLU and 3E Love via the links you posted. Thanks for the reminder about video modeling. It is something I have never personally tried but believe would be effective based on my current students' interest in iPads. At least two of them enjoy filming themselves on the iPad while giggling and then playing back the video. How much more powerful it could be if they were watching themselves successfully complete an academic task! Not only would watching themselves be intrinsically reinforcing, it would also provide a higher "teacher"-student ratio as they could learn without support. I was asked about video modeling in a recent job interview, and I think it will be something I definitely need to try out, especially since the job I accepted as a higher-than-usual number of iPads.
I am a strong proponent of integrating the arts into education for all students. Before beginning student teaching, I researched how others have previously included individuals with disabilities in arts education (http://peelingtothecore.weebly.com/creative-arts.html). Now, as a student teacher, I have the privelege--and responsibility--to test the evidence for myself. In my mentor's classroom, we use music not only as a reinforcer for students to work for (e.g., CDs, favorite songs on a paraprofessional's phone, etc.), but also as a way to teach concepts. I particulary enjoy songs by They Might Be Giants (TMBG). Their albums Here Come the ABCs and Here Come the 1,2,3s are particulary helpful for building letter and number recognition; they are also more clever and catchy than the standard early elementary music fare. This week I showed TMBG's music video for "E Eats Everything." The whole alphabet is reviewed with particular emphasis on the letter "e", who eats everything, and the letter "z" who only eats "e"s. This offered a perfect segue between our current letter ("z") and our next letter ("e"). My favorite use for music, however, is seeing shy students become engaged. I am now a huge fan of "Pete the Cat" simply for the positive impact he has in one student's life. Watching my students get in the dancing groove at an assembly this Thursday made me consider branching into movement. For now, I'll be happy to sing my song, because, as Pete would say, "it's all good," especially with art.
I appreciated reading your post with its optimism for your daughter--and students'--end results, combined with a pragmatic awareness of the necessary steps needed to reach those points. It makes sense to avoid drowning students, but that should not mean we avoid exposing them to water. The part of your post that struck me the most, however, was the eighth paragraph: "One of the rules of thumb I learned last year when working with students with intellectual disabilities is 'You never put anything in place- a behavior plan, a modification, a support- that you do not already have an idea of how to take away in the future.'" It is incredibly tempting after finding a successful accommodation (especially for behavior!) to maintain support without regard to its ultimate impact on the student's ability to act appropriately for intrinsic reasons rather than the extrinsic rewards we offer in the form of token economies, high ratios of praise, etc. Though prompt fading is difficult for students who have come to depend on our support and for educators who enjoy being needed, the outcome all parties should rejoice over is when our high expectations for student independence and self-advocacy are realized. Transferring autonomy to students and asking them to reflect on what they need to succeed is a crucial first step. Thanks for the important reminder!
I am experiencing my own period of unsustainable burnout in late March. I am currently balancing the rigors of student teaching with the concern of quickly completing job applications. All of this is further compounded by my recent transition from a 10-week student teaching placement in a self-contained third grade gifted classroom to a 6-week placement in a functional academics class for first through third graders. My personal teaching proclivities perfectly matched the first environment, while my teaching weaknesses are exacerbated in the second. I struggle with the increased structure--both in the curriculum programs and the day's schedule--, the linear sequence of instructional programs, accurate and detailed data collection, and how to respond effectively to more extreme student behavior. The things I cherish most about teaching seem absent, or at least overshadowed. I plan to apply the "mental health advice" the veteran teacher gave you to my own daily reflections to "generate positive energy" rather than focusing on all the unmet student needs and my personal imperfections.
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Mar 22, 2014