Journal #1

Your student's snapshot

Before the first day

Teachers are often given a cumlative folder that includes previous test scores and samples of student work. There are also copies of the IEP and FBA/BIP reports. At the school I work at teachers will touch base with the special education teacher and speech and language and/or support staff about accomodations from last year that would be helpful for this upcoming year.

Communication with Other Staff

I think it depends on the staff who you work with about how much information from other staff a teacher would rely on at the start of the year. For me, I found that the previous teacher for a couple of my students with special needs treated those students very differently than I was planning on. More specifically, her philosophy of inclusion was very different than mine. I find that the older practices of teaching students with special needs within the general education classroom was pull out and seclusion rather than inclusive and the least restrictive environment that are my practices. It is hard to get to know the students truly when you might have some preconceived notions from relying upon the comments of other teachers when getting to know new students.

If a colleague, who has had the student in the past, is willing to give constructive advice and information about the student's special needs then it can be very helpful. I think it is important to remember that a classroom dynamic changes each year and the expectations of each teacher varies. So what might accommodations and adaptations that have worked in the past may or may not work for you at the start of the school year etc. I think the best type of information past on from other staff is that which comes from our student intervention team because their is more than one person (more than the general education and/or special education) teacher giving information about the student at the start of the next year. This team for my school is comprised of the principal, social worker, school psychologist, reading specialist, and other support staff. They meet monthly in order to collect and analyze student achievement data. It is a team so input and recommendations for placement and future testing are decided as a group which is very helpful.

If I could know only 2 specfic characters of each student at the end of the first day of class it woud be...

2 characteristics

Learning Style: I would want to know the student's learning style strengths and weaknesses. I think it is important for a student with and without special needs to be able to learn through the best way that fits them. In addition this gives the teacher the opportunity to differentiate instruction to accommodate these learning styles.

Motivation/personal interests: The motivation/personal interests of the student are really important when starting out the school year. It is helpful to know what will draw the student into the curriculum that you are trying to teach. Also, allows for the teacher to engage with the student on a more personal level. Motivation is key to success in school for all students. If they aren't motivated or find the content not being taught to be boring they are less likely to retain the information and content.

Alicia Gramling

SEDU 550 Student Teaching Seminar