Author Archives: spedadvisor

About spedadvisor

College instructor in the college of education, supervisor for student teachers in early childhood and special education. Devoted mother to a kindergartener and advocate to all children.

What is a “social story” for students with Autism?

Social Stories are another great visual support and intervention for students who experience Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Visual supports are valuable in helping students structure and understand communication and social interactions.

  • Social Stories were developed by Carol Gray in 1995 as a way to teach children with ASD how to read the intricacies of the social environment and to teach new skills.
  •  These techniques use a brief narrative that describes a situation, relevant social cues, and responses.
  • They can teach multi-step situations. Similar to “Task Analysis” a skill is broken down into smaller steps for a student to learn and understand.
  • There are a variety of social skills training programs available, but Social Stories can be created by anyone including teachers, parents, speech language pathologists, and they can be used with all ages of students.
  • Read and review the social story when the student is calm to teach the behavior or social skill. Review the social story often and reinforce positive student behavior related to skills in the social story
  • Social Stories are simple narratives, written in positive language that support a student’s communication in a way that makes the new skill or social environment more personal and concrete
  • For more specifics on Carol Gray’s system of creating social stories please check out Carol Gray’s Social Stories

 

What is a first/then schedule for children with autism?

Please check out my youtube video where I share a first/then picture schedule.

In a previous post, I shared about picture schedules for children with autism Visual Support : Picture Schedule For Students With Autism.

Picture schedules provide supports for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) which are part of the environmental supports many students with ASD respond well to. Some students with autism may need a schedule that is paired down a bit and a first/then schedule is ideal for them.

Picture schedules help students with ASD understand what is happening during the school day and is a tool to help them navigate successfully through their day.

Some things to think about when using a first/then schedule:

  • materials needed-file folder, laminator, velcro, picture icons
  • this low tech first/then board can be created with a file folder. Laminate the file folder so it can be wiped clean if it gets dirty. Set velcro strips on the outside and long strips inside to store the images
  • create images that reflect all parts of their daily school schedule
  • create images to reflect referred activities and reinforcers
  • real photo icons may be needed first for younger students or students with ASD who are level 3. Ideally all icons should contain a picture and a word so students will get exposure to written language. Pairing a picture with a word will help a student eventually transition to only using words for their schedules.
  • focus on a work task or non-prefered task for the first item on the schedule and a preferred task or reinforcer for the “then” item on the schedule
  • complete “reinforcer assessments” often to insure students with autism are motivated to complete the work task or assignment
  • first/then boards are portable and you can keep all picture items you need inside the schedule
  • this schedule is portable and should be taken with the student as he or she navigates around the school
  • higher tech options are available through apps if a student uses a tablet
  • if you put the first/then on the white board or smart board for all students, then it can become a universal support and many students can benefit from it
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    First/Then schedule on the board 

     

  • this visual support may be part of a student’s IEP What is an IEP? but it is OK to try this strategy to provide more structure doing any student’s day
  • communicate and collaborate with the student’s IEP or 504 team to let them know you have started this visual support
  • encourage and support parents to use a first/then picture schedule at home if they are needing more structure in the home environment

Have first/then picture schedules been helpful to your students in the past?

What To Wear As A Teacher

Professional Attire for Pre-Service Teachers

Talking about professional dress and attire can be a tricky issue. A principal I had one school year, spoke at a staff meeting and asked all of the teachers not to wear short mini skirts to work but only because one teacher routinely wore them. I think having a one-on-one conversation with the teacher who wore the mini skirts was too much for him so he addressed the whole teaching team. He was turning red in the face as he was talking about this issue in the staff meeting. We want our time together as teachers to be about collaboration and learning and not about what we are wearing.

The bottom line was a parent called him and said “I don’t think the skirt my son’s teacher is wearing is appropriate because it is too short.” As an instructor who guides new practicum and pre-service teachers, I want to advise you NOW so you don’t run into someone telling you that your attire is not appropriate.

I don’t want anyone to think that I am taking away their sense of personality, gender identity or sense of style.  I simply suggest taking what you currently have going on and elevating that look to be professional, well-groomed and put together for the classroom.

One year job interview: We often tell our student teachers that this school year is essentially a one year job interview. We want you to not only represent the university in a positive light but most importantly yourself. You are your own personal “brand” and the way you present yourself will reflect upon your “brand.” Even if a veteran teacher wears casual clothing, they have a contract and you at this point may not. It is important to dress professionally even if those around you are not.

Outfit Ideas: Here are a few ideas for outfits that are professional for teachers to wear.

  •  button down shirts with collars
  • slacks
  • khakis
  • black trousers
  • (modest) length skirt or a dress
  • long skirt
  • tie

What about Jeans? Check with your specific school to see if it is ok to wear jeans. I know this might sound odd to most people who live in jeans, but some principals do not want teachers to wear jeans.

Check the handbook: Most of the employee handbooks for schools will detail what appropriate dress will look like and if anything is off-limits.

Well groomed: One workshop I went to in Texas urged teachers to look in the mirror before leaving the house. This may sound obvious but this last check will make sure the buttons are straight on your shirt, that food stains aren’t on your shirt and that your general look is professional. I would recommend not using scents such as perfume and cologne because some students are very sensitive to scents.

Dress for the grade: If you are volunteering in a preschool don’t show up in high heels or a tight skirt. You will need to sit on the floor, move freely on the playground and keep up with busy kids. As a guide, look at your supervising teacher and see what he or she is wearing.

Go online for inspiration: Pinterest is one platform I know of that has great outfit ideas for teachers. No need to break the bank to create a new wardrobe as thrift stores such as the goodwill will often have everything you need to pull together a few good looks. Take a friend along to help you sort through the racks.

Here is one of my wonderful student teachers Becca in a nice casual yet professional teacher outfit. Her school is ok if teachers wear jeans and she has a great polished look.

Brainstorm some outfits in your wardrobe that are professional enough for you to wear to the classroom you are volunteering in.

Meet your practicum student

As a practicum student, you have the opportunity to be in schools and volunteer in a classroom full of children. When parents drop off and pick up their child, they may see you in and around the school.

Parents will want to know who is in their child's classroom working with their children.

Parents will want to know who is in their child’s classroom working with their children

I recommend creating an all about me page to share with your supervising teachers. They may choose to share this page with parents by posting it on the parent communication bulletin board or find another way to share it.

I have created a “Meet your practicum student” one page outline for you to use to print and use in your classroom. (see below)

What to Include: Here are some examples of what you can put on the all about me page… Continue reading

Why do you want to become a teacher?

For many Pre-Service Teachers (either in practicum or student teaching), it is good to look at why one wants to become a teacher…

In another post, we looked at goodness of fit with teaching. Do you possess the qualities inherent to become a good teacher? Read the post here: Goodness of Fit-Teaching.

Let’s take some time to reflect upon why you want to be a teacher…

Think about your educational background: What was your school experience like? was it positive? Did you have a teachers who inspired and encouraged you to be your best in all ways? Or, did you have a negative experience? What made the experience challenging?

Why do you want to become a teacher? I always knew I was a born teacher. It was always my instinct to help my twin brother from a young age and found myself naturally taking on the “teacher” role even as a young child. Do you want to follow in the footsteps of a good teacher you had or want to provide others with a better experience than you had?

Lastly, If you are a practicum or student teacher…

What are you hopeful to get out of this experience? If you are volunteering in a kindergarten, are you hopeful to learn about what motivates this age group to learn? Are you excited to learn about the curriculum or positive behavior support?

Check out this worksheet I created to reflect upon “why I want to be a teacher”

You can download the worksheet here: Why I want to be a teacher

I look forward to hearing your reflections!

Why I want to be a teacher-2

 

Weekly Self Reflection For Student Teachers

→Self-Reflection:

Why is self-reflection so important in teaching?

when we teach we learn about what works and what doesn’t work by using self-reflection. Teach a lesson, a day, a week and look back and take the time to examine what worked well, and what didn’t work.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • How did the students respond? Was the lesson too hard, too easy? How would you present the materials or lesson differently next time?
  • How are you feeling physically and emotionally? Are issues in your personal life creeping into the classroom? Are you able to leave stress from home at home?

Every facet of teaching and education including the teacher’s cognitive, psychological, social/emotional and professional characteristics can be reflected upon. How you show up in your classroom and your school matters! Every facet of you as a person and teacher impacts your students and the whole school is impacted on some level.

How you show up in your classroom and your school matters!

When we prepare to review dispositions of our pre-service teachers with self-reflection in mind, we have the following rubric and scale:

Take a look at this scale and see how you would rate yourself right now…

Screen Shot 2018-09-18 at 5.17.03 PM

We always want to see ourselves with a growth mindset and as a person who can grow and develop new skills.

Are you a person who is willing to put in the work to self-reflect so you can grow personally or professionally? If so how are you self-reflecting?

One student teacher I had two years ago said he had a long drive home from his student teaching placement. He took this long commute to run through his school day. He would think about the areas of the day that went well and the areas of the day that he would do differently next time. One suggestion I had for him is to have some type of journal or log to eventually (after he is done driving:) record those thoughts. Even though you think you would never forget them, the year is so full and there is no way to remember everything.

I designed this self-reflection worksheet as a way to encapsulate that self-reflection every week.

Think about:

  • Things that went well
  • Things you would do differently
  • Students you connected with (who and how?)
  • Questions or concerns

You can download the weekly reflection worksheet here: Weekly Reflection student teaching-2

Take a moment to fill this out each week. Create a file to keep the reflections and by the end of the year you will be so amazed at how much you have grown.

Weekly Reflection student teaching-2

  • Last night in our weekly guide meeting my wonderful pre-service teachers got into partners and used this self-reflection worksheet to reflect upon their week in the classroom. They enjoyed the chance to share with a partner and we will try this again next week.

The student on the left side of the picture, Hailey also shared her journal which she uses daily to write in. Her collaborating teacher encouraged her to use a daily journal to write notes about the day and questions that come up. I was so impressed to see this level of self-reflection from a student teacher!

IMG_2174

Two of my student teachers using the self-reflection worksheet to reflect on their week

©SPEDadvisor.com