I walked into this practicum very nervous and unsure of my ability to make any impact professionally and in the lives of my students. However, I am walking out a completely changed teacher and individual. This experience has changed me in countless ways, but most importantly, it has reconfirmed my commitment to teaching and working with students with special needs. I feel all of us coming out of the program are forever changed by our students we have had the pleasure of teaching, and realize how “special” these students really are.
· I learned the goals I set for my students were too lofty and that I overestimated the amount of trials I could complete given the timetable I had. I learned that students learn at their own pace. Therefore, students need time to build their skills before I could assess their mastery of those skills according to their goals.
· I realized my goals should start small and build upon each other. I now have a better since of reality in understanding how much can be accomplished and how age and developmental level needs to be factored into setting goals.
· I really struggled initially with honing in on what prerequisite skill set my children are coming into the program with and knowing what assessments to use to provide information about the areas of need my students require. I feel more specific information across math, writing, and reading from the students previous teachers is necessary and essential to ensure we as teachers can best hit the ground running.
· Teaching this class exposed me to how important daily progress monitoring is for lesson planning and working towards goals. I was able to teach my students necessary skills based on my assessments I gave throughout each lesson.
· Even though I wanted all my students to reach and exceed their goals, I know Ms. Heatly and I were able to provide our students with a positive learning experience and social growth that goes way beyond the goals we set out for them. Our class had such a strong sense of community. It was great to experience how much all the students cared for each other and bonded inside and outside of class.
· Phonics instruction was a common thread for all my students. I wish I would have spent more time on phonics instruction as it is an essential skill for reading and writing.