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.

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!

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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…

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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.

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  • 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!

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

©SPEDadvisor.com

 

Set Up An Independent Work System At Home For Your Child With Autism

Benefits of independent work systems:  

Independent work systems are evidence-based practice for students with autism, but they are very helpful for any child who needs some structure to be able to work on his or her own.

Most children benefit from structure in their environment

My son who started Kindergarten, now has homework so I set up a structured work system so he has somewhere in the house dedicated to completing his homework.

  • Special education classrooms use a variation of these work systems and supports to help teach independence and provide structure.

♥ I want to share this technique and show how easy this independent work system is to create and use at home. Even if you don’t work with an autism specialist or have in-home Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapist, this is something you can create with a quick trip to the dollar store and moving around some furniture. Continue reading

Professional Dispositions For Pre-Service Teachers

The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education defines professional dispositions as:

“The values, commitments, and professional ethics that influence behaviors toward students, families, colleagues, and communities and affect student learning, motivation, and development as well as the educator’s own professional growth…”

woman writing on dry erase board

Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

I created this chart for my students to reflect on their strengths and goals in each area of professional dispositions:

The disposition categories include: Professional and ethical conduct, Individual and cultural sensitivity, work habits, effective communication, self-reflection, and collaboration.  The chart can be downloaded here: Professional Dispositions strengths and goals

Continue reading

Person First Language Vs. Condition First Language

 

Words are important! They hold meaning! Words have the ability to lift people up to promote and celebrate them and also have the potential to alienate and marginalize people. We must choose our words carefully so we don’t unintentionally get into a deficit mindsets with our students.

Condition First Language: This is when you put the condition first when speaking about people who have disabilities. An example of this is: A blind child

Person First Language: Put the child/person first before the condition. An example of this is: A child who is visually impaired (blind). Think of children with disabilities as children first.

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Children with disabilities have a wide variety of skills. Some children with disabilities may be gifted in some areas. It is not helpful to think of any group of disabilities as a homogenous group.

Focus on what students can do to create a strength based approach. Before an IEP meeting, create a list of the child’s strengths to start the meeting with. What is an IEP?

Exceptions: The Deaf population typically refers to themselves as Deaf because they have a stand alone language (American Sign Language). They use the capital D in the word Deaf as well. Recently people with autism have been sharing their desire to be called autistic because they acknowledge that although they are not neuro-typical. They are proud of who they are and want to acknowledge their autism.

Check with the individual: It is always best practice to check with the individual to see what langauge they prefer. When you are in a school, defer to using person first langauge unless told otherwise.

 

 

The Difference Between an Accommodation and a Modification

Students with autism or other special needs, who have an Individual Education Plan (I.E.P) or 504 plan, will have a section in the plan detailing accommodations and/or modifications. The student’s IEP or 504 team will determine what these accommodation or modifications will be and it is the responsibility of the classroom teacher (and other members of the team) to follow through on the plan in class. To learn more about an IEP check out my link What is an IEP?

The Law:

Students with IEPs qualify under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): Public Law No. 94-142

  • Laws require that students who have special needs have equal access to educational opportunities.
  • Equal access to general education curriculum
  • Schools are required to make reasonable accommodations for students identified as having a disability

Continue reading

Changes In The DSM-V For Autism

What is the DSM-V? The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (fifth edition) which was just revised in 2013 and written by the American Psychiatric Association. The diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has been modified based on the research literature and clinical experience in the 19 years since the DSM-IV was published in 1994. It is important for teachers to know this because the DSM-5 is used in part, to determine ASD diagnosis and eligibility.

Here is a quote from the DSM-5 to further describe what the DSM-5 is:

“The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is a classification of mental disorders with associated criteria designed to facilitate more reliable diagnoses of these disorders….

DSM is intended to serve as a practical, functional, and flexible guide for organizing information that can aid in the accurate diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. It is a tool for clinicians, an essential educational resource for students and practitioners, and a reference for researchers in the field.”

A full pdf link can be found here DSM-5.

Here are the major changes from DSM 4 to DSM 5 in the area of autism:

  • The APA has gotten rid of the sub-categories Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), Rett’s Syndrome and Childhood disintegrative disorder and replaced it with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
  • Another huge difference is that Asperger’s Syndrome has been removed from the DSM-5. It has been replaced with the term ASD level 1 without language or intellectual impairment. Most professionals are still referring to Asperger’s Syndrome in describing the disability because the term is widely used and understood in the general public.
  • The new diagnostic criteria for ASD have been rearranged into two areas: 1) social communication/interaction, and 2) restricted and repetitive behaviors. The diagnosis will be based on symptoms, currently or by history, in these two areas.

  • DSM-5 has also added a category under restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interest or activities called hyper or hypo-reactivity to sensory input or unusual interest in sensory aspects of the environment.

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Symptoms must be present in early childhood but may not become fully manifest until social demands exceed capacities. Symptoms need to be functionally impairing and not better described by another DSM-5 diagnosis.

Symptom severity for each of the two areas of diagnostic criteria is now defined. It is based on the level of support required for those symptoms and reflects the impact of co-occurring specifier such as intellectual disabilities, language impairment, medical diagnoses and other behavioral health diagnoses.

The DSM-5 includes a new diagnostic category of Social Communication Disorder that describes children with social difficulty and pragmatic language differences that impact comprehension, production and awareness in conversation that is not caused by delayed cognition or other language delays. This diagnosis looks a lot like Asperger’s Syndrome to most professionals.

Hopefully this brief overview of the changes was helpful for teachers and parents who are on the diagnois journey.