12 May 2010

Teaching Style: Stick to my Guns

I have been told by people that I would make a great teacher.  The question in my head is are they just being nice? And why would I?  Consider the following post a mission statement of the kind of teacher I will be.  I am smart enough to know that this post can be taken in a negative way.  I do have a stubborn streak in me, but I am willing to indulge both sides and points of view as long as others are willing to see mine as well.    Please read the whole post and even the other post that is referred to at the end, it will give you a clearer idea of how I am focused on student success.  The following is a discussion question for my LAST MAED class! 

Provide an example of ineffective instructional decision-making.  Using your example, describe what you would do to make it effective.

I would have to say that I experienced this in a situation I had earlier this year.  I have only been working with SpEd kids since 2005, and as I've learned more and more and worked with them more and more, I have had a knack for not diagnosing their disabilities, but creating a plan of action to head them towards their IEP goals.  I had an administrative/logistical mind.  Anyways, a new student arrives to the self-contained SpEd class at the HS, and I am hired earlier this year to help work with him; me and another lady.  We don't have much info on him, and he's from out of the district.  We did not have a lot of information on him, and the information we did have on him, I was unwilling to take as completely true; if the program he was in was so good, his single-mom would not have moved him to my district for our schools.  So, we were told that he does not walk, he may not walk, and he has a short attention span.  The scientific side of me wanted to test to see if these statements were true, but only one was.  That statement was that he does not walk. 

So what was at the root of this student's disabilities, and what will it take for him to be successful?  The teacher I work with (who is younger than me, but I didn't see that as an issue) felt that the important thing was to get him heading towards his academic IEP goals.  She and the other lady that worked with the student spent time trying to get him to write, and count, and stay on task, but he would not; he would hit them and pull their hair.  I didn't see this student as a case for academic growth... not yet.  He was a behavior student, and I treated him as such.  They told me he does not walk, but that didn't mean he couldn't.  We started going on walks in Oct, and I wouldn't let him fall to the ground and crawl like he's been used to.  By November he was walking upstairs by himself, after Christmas he was walking down and upstairs by himself.  In January he was out of his braces and in tennis shoes, in February we were walking around the track, and before I left in March to do my student teaching we were walking with 15 and 20 pound weights.  Now he does not bring his wheel chair to school, and rides the bus in a seat, and the other lady still working with him said he's much easier to work with. 

Where is the ineffective instruction decision-making?  It was how to get this student to be successful.  The teacher disagreed with me, and she and the other lady tried to get me to deviate from what I was doing with him.  I'm not trying to say I was right and they were wrong, but I think my process was more effective, because I saw behavior issues that they did not, and I chose to address those first. 

Here's a posting I put on my blog from back in January: http://lifeonsped.blogspot.com/2010/01/he-just-responds-to-you.html

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