7. Families and Community – The teacher communicates and collaborates with students, families and all educational stakeholders in an ethical and professional manner to promote student learning. As a new educator, every day that I am in the classroom is a new learning experience. Working in a special education classroom, I have learned that effective collaboration with a student’s family can more than benefit that student’s learning outcomes. The family is the first to know that student. They know what may trigger that student and what may work best for them. They know their likes, dislikes and everything in between. Teachers can use the parents as a resource to better determine what the student’s needs or modifications may be.
Beyond the family is the student themselves. Special education students are often overlooked for having less than average intelligence and therefore are not able to think clearly. While some may struggle with a more difficult time for understanding, most students always know what they are thinking. They know what they like, they know what the dislike and they want to be heard. I have learned the importance of helping my students create their own voice. Student voice is the term used to describe students’ expressing their understanding of their learning process. Student voice involves reflective self-assessment expressed in the words of the learner for the purpose of improving teaching and learning (Overview of Student Voice). What this means is that students use methods such as writing, using reflections or self-assessments to express their thoughts and understanding of content knowledge.
According to Dr. David Denton (2013), student voice is expressed in the words of the learner for the purpose of improving teaching and learning. To me, this means that teachers communicate and collaborate with students to better promote student learning. I think that there are a lot of opportunities in a special education classroom to help my students find their voice through reflection and self-assessment. Last school year, in the transition classroom where I work, my students used daily self-assessments to self-assess their performance at their internship site each day. The student would assess themselves by circling their level of participation on a 1, 2, 3 scale. Their job coach when then assess the students level of participation grading them on the same 1, 2, 3 scale. I noticed that many job coaches were not communicating with the students about why they scored them the way they did. The student simply circled a number, then the job coach circled a number then that was that.
To me, these assessments were beyond beneficial and a great way to open up a dialog with the student about their work performance. For instance, if the student scored themselves a 3 (the highest possible) but I noticed they did not meet all of the criteria for a 3 and instead scored them a 2, I would use that opportunity to go over the assessment to compare our ideas about the scores and then create goals for the next day. I think it is so important for special education students to be able to speak their mind and be involved in every learning process. It is true that the self-assessments are a way that we track progress and later use to collaborate with parents but they can also be a valuable tool in helping our students express themselves by using their voice and as a learning tool.
My goal as a future teacher is to create open dialog with parents and students about learning goals, expectations and concerns. I will need to attend many IEP meetings in order to get a better understanding of how the communication and collaboration process works. I will need to meet with administrators, counselors and those involved in the students education and learn how to collaborate as a whole and not just from my perspective. I want my students to be involved in their own learning processes and be able to use their voice to not only reflect on what they have learned but to speak up for themselves and gain autonomy. One thing I look forward to during my internship next school year is getting the chance to meet with parents about their child’s education. I plan to make myself available for questions and comments and hope that I can create a healthy and supportive learning atmosphere for my students.
Overview of student voice. Retrieved from https://bbweb03.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-1072657- dt- content-rid-259355_1/courses/XLST_B2_201560/Overview%20of%20Student%20 Voice.pdf
Denton, David. (2013). Student Voice for EdTPA. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2- HISj1LoOk&feature=youtu.be&list=PLrT_L5VnPkReCn1RobiUBcs-fIjzUTpgU%20