Observations at PGMS!

By: Kristen Incorvaia

Observation of a Reading Lesson in an Adapted Setting

During this observation, I sat in an 8th grade ALS English/Language Arts class. The class had a total of nine students (seven boys and two girls) and there was a special education teacher, a special education intern, two interpreters, and one additional adult assistant. The class's objective for the day was that students will analyze text to compose an objective summary. The students were asked to write an article about Little Rock Nine and use three worksheets to help get their information. The worksheets were previously completed by the students and included significant events, several quotes with explanations of each quote, and other facts and details the students felt like they needed to help write their objective summary. There was a lot of one-on-one time with the adults and students in the classroom. The adults helped with spelling questions and one student needed help with reading the prompt and writing his response, which the intern took him aside to do.

Observation of a Math Lesson in an Inclusion Setting

The class I observed was a 7th grade PreAlgebra who's objective for the day included simplifying fractions and adding integers. The class has a total of 30 students and about half of them have Individualized Educational Programs. The general education teacher lead the class and the special educator was clearly just aiding the general education teacher. Both of the teachers gave positive remarks to students who volunteered or answered questions throughout the lesson. The lesson was on Safari Montage and the students used counters as manipulatives to help visualize integers. During the lesson, the general education teacher asked questions while the special education teacher sat on the side grading papers. All of the students participated in the lesson and as the lesson continued several of them stopped using the counters but they were still available for the students with IEPs.

Observation of a Social Group with a Speech Pathologist

Every Tuesday, two of my 8th grade students who have hearing aids have speech class with a speech pathologist and their interpreters. In the class that I observed, they were talking about articles of speech (A, At, and The) and when they are used with a noun. They were given a worksheet where the students had to fill in the blanks of several sentences and decide which article to use. The students alternated reading the sentences aloud and figuring out if A, An, or The went in the blank. After the students had to write two sentences for each type of article. The speech pathologist reviewed word endings because one of the students struggles with pronouncing them. To end the class, the students reviewed vocabulary from their other classes.

Observation of a CALS Classroom

The Community and Learning Support classroom I observed had seven 6th and 7th grade boys present who all are students with Autism. The classroom had one special education teacher, three instructional assistants, and one intern. When I was in the classroom, I got to see the end of a Reading lesson and a complete Mathematics lesson. Both of the lessons were set up in the same style. There were four stations around the classroom with one or two adults at each station and the students rotated after about seven minutes. One station was direct instruction with the special education teacher using the ActivBoard and iPads. Another station was a review station with one or two Instructional Assistants where the students worked on packets. The third station was an independent station where the students worked on worksheets or activities alone. An instructional assistant stood close by to keep an eye on the student working. The last station was leisure time which gave the students time to play educational games or read educational books alone.

Observation of an IEP Meeting

The IEP meeting I got to observe was called a review IEP for new entrance student. The new student on my mentor's case load is in 8th grade from North Carolina and the team met to review and update the North Carolina IEP. The student's mom and step dad were present as well as a general education teacher, head of special education, school psychologist, and the case manager (special educator). The IEP was extremely outdated so the team and parents wanted to make more appropriate goals and accommodations for the student. The meeting went smoothly and the parents were very vocal with what they wanted for their child and even asked what they could do at home to help.

Common Threads in My Five Observations

In all five of my observations one main thing stood out to me; the students matter the most. Whether it was in an inclusion setting, adapted setting, or pull out the students strengths and needs were met and the teachers provided all they could to help their students succeed. The teachers made the lessons engaging and provided accommodations for their students to succeed. In the IEP meeting and speech class, the students' success was the focus of both. The teachers at Pine Grove know that without their students they wouldn't have jobs so it is clear they all put over 100% effort into their lessons and the success of their students.

What I've Learned from my Observations

Being able to observe these five different settings this semester has provided me with a lot of great ideas that I can use to support my future students learning and well-being. I've now seen first hand that students' benefit from engaging lessons, having multiple ways to complete assignments, and having manipulatives and other helpful tools to help them succeed with their assignments. Creating a safe environment for my students is going to be necessary for their well-being in my classroom. Making sure all my lessons are planned out so there is limited downtime will help reduce off-task behaviors and support my future students' well-being. To make a successful classroom possible, it is extremely important to form positive relationships with not only my future students but also with my future co-workers. Collaboration is key in making schools run successfully and by forming relationships with my co-workers and students I can make that possible. Through my observations, I learned that working with the other teachers in my subject-area team or grade-level team makes everyones jobs easier and creates a positive school environment.

My future classes success truly depends on my classroom management skills, my relationships with my students and co-workers, and my abilities to provide my students with the necessary tools and accommodations they need to succeed. All of this is easier said than done but I know that collaborating with my co-workers can be the first step to make it all possible.