Going into this practicum, I am faced with mixed emotions. On the one hand, I am very excited to have reached the point in my educational career to apply all that I have learned about learning disabilities through my coursework to a real life classroom. However, this is also nerve-racking for me for a couple reasons. Since I have always been under a supervising teacher, one concern I have is being solely responsible for establishing and implementing the children’s learning goals in a compressed time frame. Another concern I have is the feeling of being ill-prepared, as I lack hands-on experience in working directly with students who have a wide range of learning needs and behaviors. I quickly learned on the first day that a room with children who all require individualized help based on a wide range of needs is challenging and requires the teacher to be purposeful and strategic in differentiating instruction across representation, engagement, and expression and action.
Given the fore mentioned concerns, I was overwhelmed by the necessity to "hit the ground" running with identifying the specific areas of needs and goals for my students as the time is of the essence. Selecting appropriate assessments was challenging as I needed to ensure they were intentionally selected and could isolate the skill deficits my children required based on their identified needs provided by their previous teachers. I quickly learned that assessments are not a "one size fits all" as I had to modify and reconsider assessments according to individual student needs. The need for phonetic awareness, sight word recognition, decoding, fluency, writing skills, and math skills is a common thread for my students. I learned collecting a battery of assessments is a time consuming task, but, is absolutely necessary for goals setting as it provides baseline information and areas of need for my students. Strategically selecting assessments has provided Ms. Heatly and I a clear picture of isolated skills and specific deficits we need to hone in on in each child.
I am genuinely excited for the next month to see how much my students and I will grow. There is no doubt that this experience will provide me with a great learning opportunity that will challenge me and help me grow professionally.
1. I will strive to be confident in my ability to consistently prepare and teach intentional lessons in a timely manner. In the past, I have had a tendency to over plan and include as many activities as I can in one given lesson. This summer I will work diligently on planning effectively and efficiently so I don’t over complicate the learning goals for my students. In order to accomplish this, I will need to narrow the focus of my lessons by identifying the goals that were established for each of my eight students. The behavioral stated objectives and learning goals Ms. Heatly and I developed will help guide my planning to ensure I stay on topic and provide my students with just right materials and activities. My lesson plans will require specific considerations for each of my children’s goals and their individual learning needs.
2. I will strive to use a variety of assessment measures effectively to guide and plan for my instruction. I will use a variety of informal and formal (standardized) assessments measures during the summer to ensure the children reach their learning goals. I will also ensure I use real-time assessment in order to help me monitor and adjust as well as know when I need to review, reteach, or pull small groups.
3. In my classroom containing children with emotional behavior disorders and learning disabilities, it is utmost important I create a safe learning community that is well managed. Positive reinforcement for approriate behavior will be consistently given to all students throughout my teaching term. My goal is to ensure that students’ behavior is appropriate so that I can successfully teach lessons and that learning is occurring. If I have to address disruptive behavior, I will do so in a calm demeanor, use non-distracting non-verbal signals, and use as few words as possible to ensure I do not take away from instruction. When addressing inappropriate behavior, I will be mindful to do it in a private manner. This will ensure I do not jeopardize the student’s integrity while also not taking the whole classes attention away from the lesson at hand.