Starting, did you feel like you knew nothing?

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by pete2770, Jun 20, 2011.

  1. pete2770

    pete2770 Comrade

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    Jun 20, 2011

    I'm just curious how all of you felt when you started in SPED (pref from the start, and not switching subjects) when you were done with your course work.

    It just seems like I'm reading pages upon pages and nothing is internalizing. Taking two graduate summer courses at once, this weekend I read 240+ pages of dense material on assessment, RTI, pedagogy, etc.

    I feel like I'm going to finish everything and know nothing.

    I want to be effective, how can I remember all these pedagogy techniques and use them?

    I want to know the paper work inside and out.

    Will this understanding come after student teaching?

    I'm lucky, I'm doing dual certification so I'll student teach for exactly one year, because my state's decided that LD and EBD certification each require their own student teaching experience.

    Let me know how you felt. When did things click?
     
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  3. chicagoturtle

    chicagoturtle Fanatic

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    Jun 20, 2011

    We don't have separate certifications anymore here. The only people who get separate classifications are Preschool, Hearing and Vision. Everyone else teaches under a "cross-categorial" certificate essentially.

    For me I learned a lot once I got a classroom of my own- then again I student taught in a different state than I work in- so while the meat of the paperwork was the same, there were many differences between the districts.

    I learn a lot better through hands on and experiences than reading. I often skimmed articles in college and went above and beyond by reading articles and journals about particular topics that interested me- so I had a solid ground, but not everything memorized by any means.

    As far as techniques- I find that each of my kids is different and needs something different. I change and "tweak" solutions for each child.

    I get kids in the preschool for their first school experience ever, so I have a very different role than a K-12 teacher in many aspects.

    Plus you may find that your districts curriculum counteracts (not sure if this is the right word choice) but anyway counteracts what you learned in school and vise versa.

    Also- if you have a good cooperating teacher and the ability to observe other teachers in your student teaching experience you will have many experiences and scenarios under your belt to take and make yours.
     
  4. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Jun 20, 2011

    Yes, I felt exactly like that! I did dual certication so I could be certified in elementary ed. and special ed. My program prepared us SO well for elementary ed. We took tons of useful classes where we actually learned and practiced practical things like classroom management, making learning progressions, and even things like how to run parent-teacher conferences. I did 9 field experiences (practicums) and taught in every grade of my elementary ed. licensure for at least 10 weeks. I student taught in my gen. ed placement for almost a full year. I felt SO ready to teach gen. ed. after all that.

    In comparison, I took 2 1/2 classes that were specifically related to special ed. (plus 2 sort of general knowledge classes based on disability categories/differentiation/laws like idea that everyone had to take for any education major), and did only 1 field placement. I was placed in a full-inclusion middle school and my co-op teacher literally stood in the back of the room and chatted to me the whole time. The only other experience I got was student teaching, and for special ed. I only got 8 weeks of full time teaching in. It was also full inclusion, and with the exception of 2 30 minute reading groups, I was mostly expected to just go into classrooms and walk around and help the students. My special ed. co-op teacher knew I was more interested in gen ed, so she wasn't very forthcoming with info. That school also did all of their ieps/meetings in May at the end of the year, when I had already graduated so I missed all of that. When I got this job, I was happy to be employed but terrified! I kept second guessing myself for taking the job, and I was so nervous that they were going to find out right away that I really didn't know what I was doing.

    Once I started teaching, I found out that I knew a whole lot more than I thought I did. A lot of my gen. ed knowledge transferred over- as far as how to teach groups, etc. I'm currently in a pull-out program, so I get to plan and teach my own lessons however I want, and all of my gen. ed. experience helped with that. I found I was really good at knowing what the gen ed teachers wanted/needed because of my dual background, and I was able to really effectively collaborate with them. I had to work extra hard to quickly learn things like meetings and IEP paperwork. Luckily, our speech pathologist was a 2nd year and our psych was also a 1st year, so I felt really comfortable with them and didn't mind asking them all my silly questions- they have helped me out a TON with all the IEP stuff. Other than in front of those two, I made sure to just act confident, and that really worked too. Even with so little special ed. preperation people in the building were always telling me they couldn't believe how much I knew considering I was a first year teacher. Even simple things like really being organized and on top of everything really impressed people. After being so nervous, my year was GREAT! There were definitely some times when I sort of freaked out because I didn't know something, but overall I felt a lot more prepared than I thought I did. Since you'll have so much background in special ed, I bet you'll feel the same way. Make sure you're constantly paying attention to what's going on around you and reflecting on it. I'm a really reflective person and that has helped me a lot with sort of figuring things out.
     
  5. pete2770

    pete2770 Comrade

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    Jun 20, 2011

    Thank you, both of you.

    I'm trying to pay as much attention as I can, and when I student teach I will definitely be active, not passive, from day one.

    I'm trying to set the student teaching up to my advantage. I want to do the LD in a small country school under the teacher I'm hoping I could replace (don't worry, all my eggs aren't in one basket) but just in-case that's not a good experience for knowledge/keeping busy, I want my other half of student teaching to be in a suburban/urban school where it's almost guaranteed to be non-stop.

    A large portion of my classes with in-school work are going to be this coming spring; I hope that reduces my stress a bit. I've been taking all the courses without those requirements first for flexibility. Hopefully I can get that backbone that you have waterfall. ;)

    I hope I have a good cooperating teacher (the one I know seems thorough and nice, but you never really know until you work directly with them I guess). I could be like you chicago and hop states, a certain part of rural WI is definitely my second choice if there's an opening there.

    Thanks again.
     
  6. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Jun 21, 2011

    The best thing I did while in school was keep a running list of ideas on my computer. I started multiple pages or sections for new ideas and then jotted them down.

    For example: a behavior management page and then write all the ideas for this.
     
  7. pete2770

    pete2770 Comrade

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    Jun 21, 2011

    I really like that idea!
     
  8. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Jun 21, 2011

    I'm currently a student in NJ going for a bachelors in Teacher of Students with Disabilities K-5 (I will be dual certified in K-5 and Special Education and be highly qualified in History upon graduation).

    I've only taken two special education courses so far.

    One was an introduction to special education (100% useless, I knew every single answer to every question the professor asked and then some)

    Another was Families as Collaborators in the School, Classroom, and Community. A course that really didn't do much except explain IEP meetings and tell us barebones descriptions of the laws.

    A course I will be taking in the fall is on assistive technology in the classroom.

    Other courses I have taken:
    Math and Science in the Elementary Curriculum (Didn't teach a single thing about students with math based LDs)
    LA/Reading in the Elementary Curriculum (Didn't teach a thing about students with LDs, other than a small paragraph in the book on how some students have dyslexia)

    I don't feel prepared at all for when I graduate. Although that is a year away, I do not feel as thought I have been taught enough to succeed. Although I have a feeling student teaching or my second set of observations may change that, as I will probably do well in that. I just haven't been in a classroom in a while, so I am probably underestimating myself.
     
  9. inhisgrip20

    inhisgrip20 Comrade

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    Jun 22, 2011

    You will learn the most during your student teaching experience (if you get a good mentor teacher) and during your first year of teaching on your own. Become friends with the people on your team and other special educators in the building. Don't be afraid to ask lots of questions your first year. Once you get in there and start implementing the things you've learned and figure out what works and what doesn't work, you'll realize you are alot more prepared than you realize. There are alot of things you learn in your college classes that you quickly realize just aren't practical in the "real world" and then you discover things out in the "real world" that you wonder, why didn't they teach me THIS in college! :)
     
  10. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Jun 22, 2011

    I felt like I knew enough to do a good job because I had been long-term subbing for a few years - so I got to practice what I was learning in my credential program as I learned it. You'll feel more secure after your student teaching.
     
  11. pete2770

    pete2770 Comrade

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    Jun 23, 2011

    All right, not feeling so bad now.

    Not looking forward to the debt that's going to accumulate over two semesters of student teaching. Yikes! If I don't do both now though, I never will do the second one, or it will be a lot more inconvenient. ;(

    I don't understand Minnesota some times. EBD and LD have about a two course difference and share a standards test...yet if you student teach in one you cannot teach the other, only that one, after(variance excluded). My face is in my palm.

    I'm more convinced that the person I'll student teach under in this country school is going to be A+. But I really want to experience a super busy suburban or urban school for a section of my student teaching. However the debt, because of having to live there, would be even more and it's already going to be high. ;(
     
  12. missjessica

    missjessica Rookie

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    Jun 23, 2011

    With Special Ed, I feel like my student teaching gave me a lot of experience teaching students and creating lessons, but almost no experience with writing I.E.P.s or dealing with parents. I will be teaching my first year in a really well to do area, and I know parents can be pushy. I have been warned about this, but am still feeling excited and positive about my new position. I definitely feel like I am unprepared for this job. If I could change teacher preparation programs, I would.:(
     
  13. Emily Bronte

    Emily Bronte Groupie

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    Jun 23, 2011

    You will remember more than you think you do. In my SPED program, we had to be working in the schools in order to do the program (also in MN). I think Waterfall had a really good point, it was in those general ed. type of teaching ____________ math, reading,etc. methods courses that were the most helpful in terms of actually teaching kids with special needs. It is that firm grasp of those concepts that I learned in methods that I can twist, turn, stretch and do whatever it takes to really assist my students. Being successful in teaching these kids means that I have had to take my creativity to the next level. Do the things that work in the gen. population with for these kids? Yes they do. Like manipulatives for math, would those be useful in sped too? Absolutely. Does it mean the kid in SPED might need lots more time and practice with those tools and more 1:1 time/attention...absolutely. Always remember things come with time and experience.
     
  14. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Jun 23, 2011

    Taking it a step further (not to step on your toes, mopar ;) ) - - I'm so anal, that I actually took pictures of all the cool ideas I saw during my student teaching experiences. For example, there was an AWESOME speech path at one of my assignments. I went in her classroom/office and took pictures of her walls. Seriously. She used those clear door hanging things that you can put shoes in, and put all of her small manipulatives in it and had them labled for the kids - it was so awesome - and I knew I wouldn't remember it when I got my own classroom. So I took pictures of it and put them all in a binder with a written note next to each one so I'd remember later. Another example, I took pics of a binder with baseball card sleeves in it that a teacher had put together to hold all of her pecs pictures (and today I use that method for storing my work station chart pictures). Another thing I took pics of was another teacher's method of using personal schedules. The list goes on and on. Any idea that I loved, I took a picture of it and put it in my binder.

    I still have that book and I look through it before each new school year to refresh my memory of what really worked.

    Good luck, and btw, I think you're going to be a fantastic teacher. I truly believe that anyone that takes the time to come to this forum to gather ideas from so many people, has to have a rockin' classroom. How could you not?? :thumb:
     
  15. pete2770

    pete2770 Comrade

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    Jun 24, 2011

    It's good to know there's another person from MN on here Emily. ;) Are you teaching around the cities or further out?

    Thanks Zoom. ;)

    I'm going to make sure (if I can) to get experience in IEPs as well as meeting with parents. It might be some extra work, but that's definitely something I want to know the ins and outs of Jessica.
     
  16. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Jun 25, 2011

    During all clinical experiences ask to observe an IEP meeting. Also, when you student teach, ask right away when IEP meetings will be so that you make sure you get to run at least one meeting.
     
  17. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Jun 25, 2011

    I don't teach specEd, but I think it's the same no matter what you teach. A good base knowledge with some understanding is necessary, but until you put it to practice, you won't quite be able to make sense of it. I think that's what is so important in student teaching, but even then, until you have been doing it awhile, you likely won't be confident. And, since every group is so different and unique, you will keep having to mix up what you do, try different strategies, etc., so it really is an art, like they say.
     
  18. mdteacher

    mdteacher Rookie

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    Jun 25, 2011

    I would definetly encourage you to keep notes on what you like and what you learn, I too took pictures of everything I came across that I liked. I did a lot of searching and created a binder of classroom pictures, ideas etc.

    When I graduated college I had a degree in special education and I can honestly say I learned more in my student teaching - not that my undergrad didn't prepare me, but it all "clicked". I've been teaching six years now and honestly feel like I will continue to learn each and every day.

    You sound dedicated and your future students will definetly benefit from it!
     
  19. Emily Bronte

    Emily Bronte Groupie

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    Jun 25, 2011

    I am in the cities. When I student taught, I was involved in IEP meetings and an evaluation planning meeting as well and did the observations for the evaluation. Just let your cooperating teacher know you want to be part of these things.
     
  20. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Jun 25, 2011

    I had IEP meetings when I was in K-12 :p

    Although they weren't exactly civil.

    So I know what they are sort of like
     
  21. bethechange

    bethechange Comrade

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    Jun 25, 2011

    Minnesota represent!

    I'm in the ruralish south.

    In my opinion, my undergrad was useless. I learned the most from student teaching and far more still by actual teaching (including a lot of trial and error!) Undergrad teaching programs should be 4 years of student teaching, hah.
     
  22. pete2770

    pete2770 Comrade

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    Jun 25, 2011

    Woo, another Minnesotan!

    I had a long talk with my adviser today, and he's of the opinion that I should just do LD (no student teaching in EBD). His reasoning is that the demand for LD is greater, and I can teach EBD on a variance if that's what's open, and there's not much more work,1 course, and student teaching (which I believe can be expedited during the summer for current teachers).

    Based on that, I definitely want my only student teaching experience to be in a demanding environment.

    For those Minnesotans, it looks like the most urban (term used lightly) locations I can student teach in (as in, in agreement with my University) are Edina and Eden Prairie. I'm thinking Eden Prairie is arms and legs ahead, as the district is marked as being collaborative with the university. I don't know exactly what changes, but I assume it means it's much more involved. Something about being a teacher preparation district...

    You've all been so wonderful, I cannot thank you enough. I honestly feel that this site in many regards is a greater resource than my college.
     
  23. Barbera

    Barbera Companion

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    Jun 25, 2011

    All that reading you are doing would be easier to understand if you had class experience as well. Great reading habits by the way. Most people just blow it off. That work ethic should pay off in your favor. When you get there and do it it will all make sense.
     

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