Figuring out HOW to teach in special education

Go back to that first day in your classroom with students.  Remember how excited you were?  You just knew you would make a difference.  You knew you could take your students who were often 3 or more grade levels behind and catch them up by the end of the school year.  After all, you spent 4 years in college learning all there was to know about how to teach students with special learning needs.  You had all the tools, and you could feel the excitement like electricity coursing through your veins.

Then the students started arriving.  Some walked in.  Some came in wheelchairs or walkers.  Some may have even come through the door like a ball of fire.  It felt like a lot, right off the bat.

You gave yourself some grace and time to get adjusted.  In your mind, you were thinking, okay 2 weeks, and I will get this running smoothly.  Then 2 weeks became 2 months in the blink of an eye, and you were completely, and utterly exhausted and disenchanted.

Sound familiar?

Since leaving the classroom, I have taken what I learned and used it to craft very specific resources for teachers to use in a self-contained, multi-grade level classroom.  My focus is that 1% population.   Those students who are the most severely impacted by their disability, and they are often all grouped together in the same classroom. 

So, here is the bottom line.  I have figured out the tools that work.  I have been creating them and providing them to teachers in my store on teacherspayteachers for more than 5 years.  But, just like in the classroom, I have come to realize that simply providing those tools to teachers is not enough. 

Teachers absolutely need those tools.  There is almost no content out there that is curriculum based for our severely impacted students.  Tons, and tons, and tons of file folder games… YES.  But not true curriculum.  Don’t get me wrong I LOVE file folder games as a tool, but not as a curriculum

So, here I am 5 years later asking “How can I help?”  And what I hear is:

  • I need more lesson plans
  • I don’t understand how to make this work
  • I love this unit, but I need more support

Thus, my idea for a community to support one another and teach the HOW was born.  I want teachers to walk into their classroom so excited to teach that day. I want them to wake up before their alarm, not hit the snooze button.  I want teachers to exude so much excitement for what they are about to teach, that it is literally contagious to the students and other adults in the classroom.

But for that to happen, I have to give them more than just tools.  I have to show them HOW to use the tools.  Let’s say someone gave you this tool:

They even told you the name, it is an extractor.  They told you it was a great tool and would make your life so much easier.  But, then they walked away, and you were left with this amazing new tool, an extractor, but had absolutely no idea how to use it.  Worthless right???

The same thing can happen when we find a really cool resource on google, or Pinterest, or even teacherspayteachers.  We think, oh my goodness, I love this.  This is perfect.  But, then you find yourself sitting in front of 5-10 kids, all with issues too difficult to name, and you have no idea how to make this amazing resource work for them.  No matter how great it seemed, it was a total waste of time and money.

So, as I start on this new journey, answering the question, “How can I help?” I heard you.  You have told me how much you struggle to maintain control of your classroom.  You have told me how your principal just does not understand what you are doing or why.  You have told me you are at the end of your rope. 

I now realize that just giving you more tools is not the answer.  You need to understand the HOW.  And not just how for a few kids.  You need to understand HOW to use these resources for a wide range of learning levels and challenges.

Do I have all the answers?  I wish I could say you bet.  Just sign up, and I will tell you all you need to know.  But, I know we are all smarter than that.  Every student is unique.  Every challenge feels new.  So, I may not have all the answers, but I do promise to figure it out with you.

As we build a community of teachers with the same passion and interests, we can all work together to support one another and find that best path through the chaos. 

So, let me be your guide.  Let me be the person who can provide not only the tools, but the instruction manual as well.  So when someone gives you a tool like that extractor, you will know it is just the right thing for pulling those pesky weeds out our your garden and yard.

Click on the button below to come on a journey with me, as I explore creating an instruction manual for teachers, so the tools I create are more powerful and can make more of an impact for our students.

But don’t wait, membership is only open for a short time, several times a year, and I wouldn’t want you to miss out.

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