Special Education Observation

By Jessica Rodriguez

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Hours

I observed 5 hours of classes that included Special Education needs students at Pleasant Valley Middle School. I also observed 5 hours of classes that included Spec. Ed. needs students at Cloud Elementary; Mrs. Rucker and Miss Case will be sending Dr. G an email to confirm these hours (since I failed to take my Spec Ed letter with me).

Classroom Dynamic

Initially, I wasn't able to tell which students needs special education attention and which didn't. It appeared in every classroom I observed that a paraprofessional was present, and during certain activities students would either stay with the teacher, or sit at a separate table with the para. Eventually it became obvious that the students sitting with the para were doing so in order to move at a slightly slower or faster pace than the rest of the class.

As I watched the paras work with their assigned students, I expected to see different teaching methods or perhaps special activities taking place. Instead, I found that the paras were following the exact same routine that the teacher was with the other group of students; the only difference, if there was one, was the pace at which the paras went through the lesson. It became clear that while the majority of the classroom may be able to follow along with the teacher, some students may need slightly isolated learning environments to stay focused (or even just someone to sit with them and keep them on task).

The third grade class I observed at Cloud had a special education specialist named Mrs. Bailey and I must admit, it broke my heart a little when she didn't recognize me! Mrs. Bailey was my 5th grade teacher! My class was the first and last "regular education" class that she taught (maybe she didn't recognize me on purpose... maybe I'm the reason she decided to stick with Spec. Ed...) Regardless, it was awesome to see her and I was happy to see that she still teaches at Cloud.

Finally, I want to mention the 6th grade Language Arts class I observed at Pleasant Valley - it had two teachers. Mr. Welch & Ms. Orr co-taught this class, and Ms. Orr is a special education specialist (whom I plan on interviewing). It was an interesting dynamic that I hadn't seen in a classroom before, Mr WElch led the class in read alouds and reading reflections, while Ms Orr focused on vocabulary and grammar specifics.
--Mr. Welch mentioned that one of the benefits to co-teaching a classroom is that the students get to witness the teachers disagreements (and compromises), providing the kids with positive examples of conflict resolution.--