Resource teacher by weekday, lazy butt by weekend. Special education is not a joke, but sometimes humor can be used to get a point across. After a week full of problem solving, I sit here on this lazy Saturday morning wondering how I can make things better or easier for students, teachers, and parents. I really don't know if there is a one-size-fits all solution, but I do know of some resources that may lesson the burden.
At a recent meeting of the minds, the question came up regarding who was really responsible for providing accommodations. When hearing this, I wanted to say "Have you not been listening or paying attention?!" But at the same time it made me wonder what was wrong with the message that had been delivered to our site teaching teams, as well as why didn't the message come through clearly on our munis training system. I believe it was the same problem we see in our classrooms. It's the expectations of our delivery. We expect that whatever comes out of our mouths the hearer will learn, apply, and understand. We use EEI, DI, PBL, UDL; all acronyms that are at the core of our teaching, but still the translation gets confused.
Is there a solution? Maybe, but first I need to go back to my training and remember to monitor and adjust my own teaching. I do believe, all people, learn differently and have different interests, so we get excited about those things that we are familiar with and are of high interest and could care less about the unfamiliar and those things that are of low interest. This may hinder understanding when a issue is being presented or a point is being made.
My answer to the question about who is responsible for providing accomodations is its the entire IEP team; Parents, general education teachers, special education teachers, service providers, LEA reps, and interpreters of testing results.
Using UDL and Direct instruction may help the team provide a well designed program and accomodations for all students.
So my solution is to provide resources that describe and discuss accommodations, using both UDL and DI so others can have a resource that's fits their interest.
My weekend was not entirely spent reclining in my easy chair, here are some resources I hope you find useful.
Universal Design of Learning
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Yes, I am an Appoholic. If you have attended any of my workshops you are well aware of my problem, and how habit forming it can become.
So I entered the room, admitted I was an APPoholic, and the support group greeted me with "Hello, Tracey". (I love hearing my name, and I could get used to this). The best part of being a presenter is being able to interact. I always come away with more ideas as well as get confirmation that what I am sharing is helping others help their students. The group seemed quiet this year, but also seemed comfortable in their environment. The sleeper returned from last year, who actually stayed asleep when we had group discussion. I guess he did not want to participate in the 12-step program. Fortunately, my new fellowship caused some to admit the need of a mentor, and I was able to reconcile with those who influenced me. I have been know to pull people into this addiction, and was sent a email that stated "darn you Tracey, You caused me to download more apps!" So glad I can influence those from our state department!
So those of you who are wondering what in the world I'm talking about, I teach workshop where I take on the role of an APPoholic, and use references from the AA program. Some of my participants have caught on to my antics, and begin to participate in the fun. I am fortunate to have a wonderful husband who helps me self reflect, but encourages me to just be myself. If you are thinking of ever sharing your knowledge in front of a group, I suggest the same. Add some of your own personality to your presentations to help become real to the people you teach.
Today I came away with new knowledge by attending workshops I had no real interest in, but discovered some fascinating new technologies and advancements in the field of assistive tech. I made new friends, was able to collaborate and network with others, opened myself up to being willing to co-teach a session, and allowed God to work in my life at His will.
I think I might be becoming a conference junkie. I wonder if there is a 12-step program for that?
So as a first time blogger, I thought I might have time every evening, while attending ISTE2014, to post my learnings and my thoughts. I was dead wrong! I felt like "That Girl" during the shows playing of their their title song. I practically was running and spinning in circles as I entered the convention hall. The building was filled with energy. I felt like a kid at Christmas unwrapping the gift I always wanted, only to find it was better than I hoped! My time was quickly snatched from the moment I arrived, till the time I left.
The registration process was quick and easy. I just stepped up to a computer screen, typed in my name and all my information was instantly printed, bar code included. They handed me my bag, and off I went.
I then saw a crowd gathering in an area, so I figured I would just follow. I was overwhelmed with the crowd of 17,000, and was still trying to get the feel of the convention centers setup. I was not the only one! As I followed, I found my self standing on the down side of an escalator, but what was in front of me could have been diasterous. The crowd was asked to stop, and the amount of people at the bottom of the path was thick. I had to visually scope out my emergency escape as to not be crushed by the people who were coming in behind me. Fortunately people began to shout out and the crowd parted just enough for most of us to narrowly escape a close pounding. A few had to jump the rail, but fortunately no one was hurt, and the staff immediately made sure from that point all escalators were monitored during high traffic times.
I did not allow this event to steal my joy, although I will never look at escalators the same. I next entered the theatre where the keynote was being presented. I was welcomed by the smooth brass notes of the Young Fellaz Brass Band. Our crowd was being escorted to an area a distance away from those New Orleans sounds, so I snuck away from the crowd, dodged past the theater host , and then found myself a seat between two strangers near those young musicians. Not only did I get a seat up close and personal, I was able to conquer my fear of strangers, loud noises, and tight places. Yes, we were shoulder to shoulder. I enjoyed talking to woman on my right who was a doctoral student at a local University. I learned that when you travel alone, you meet some very wonderful people.
As for the keynote, Ashley Judd gave herself permission to tell her testimony to a bunch of teachers, and strangers. She began with prayer, and a moment of silence. Her main point was we need to listen to children when they have something to say. We need to connect more with each one of them. What we don't want to do, is blow off a tale as if it didn't happen, and then that child continues in a string of unfortunate events. I'm curious as to how a whole school of educators never picked up that she was living alone, had no guardian, and was fending for herself over a year!
So that is day one. Well except for my hotel experience....let's just say I now know how to connect a disconnected air-conditioner in a hotel room, rewrite a TV center that had been disconnected, and problem solve a no-dial tone telephone. Glad my tech skills were in gear!
Note for the day: Keep Connected
Its the day before I hop on a plane and go on an technology adventure. Never thought in my life technology would be part of my career, but here it is. Im nervous, but excited. These next 4 days I will try and journal in my thoughts and share with you my adventure. Here I go to wild blue yonder!