Tag Archives: Collaboration

Reflection: The New Age of Professional Practice

           8. Professional Practice: The teacher participates collaboratively in the educational community to improve instruction, advance the knowledge and practice of teaching as a profession, and ultimately impact student learning. To me, this category represents the importance of utilizing and going beyond the use of typical professional seminars, workshops and conferences by enhancing professional development through the creation of collaborations with other teachers, school administrators, highly qualified mentors and professional partnerships. This greater range of development contributes to our collective goal of setting up our students for optimal success. According to Desimone (2011), over the past decade a more broadbased view of teacher professional development has emerged, treating teacher learning as interactive and social, based in discourse and community practice. In this view, formal or informal learning communities among teachers can act as powerful mechanisms for their growth and development. I really like the idea of collaboration and find that in my internship, working with state agencies involved with transition is an invaluable tool.

            I feel so very lucky to be endorsing special education because the community of teachers that make up our department are a very close team of individuals. I never imagined that teachers would work so closely together, supporting each other through the good, the bad and the in-between. Beyond the amazing support system that has built up around me, I continuously have been afforded opportunities to further my career through professional collaboration. I recently was asked to help facilitate an amazing opportunity for collaboration between my school district’s high school special education teachers, a non-profit called Open Doors for Multicultural Families and many state agencies directly involved in our student’s education and transition. As a group, our goal is to help multicultural families with children with disabilities plan for transitions and help them better understand why interventions are important. This experience is significant in my development as a teacher because it gives me the opportunity to work with numerous multicultural families, an array of special education teachers and state agencies that help support the student population that I am endorsing. I feel so fortunate to even be considered to participate in such a unique professional collaboration and know that the outcome will greatly benefit my student’s learning. At the grade level I am interning in, 18-21 year old special education transition, it is beyond important that we teach our students the importance of what transition means. It is just as important that we also help the families understand what transition looks like so our students will continue to be successful once they leave our program. These professional collaborations afford me that opportunity and equipped me with the knowledge and support that I need to teach my students successfully.

            For the future, I will continue to network and collaborate in ways that will better facilitate learning. I also plan to join the National Association of Special Education Teachers because I believe that they are a wealth of knowledge. They offer trainings and supports in regards to IEPs and transition that I am just now starting to use in my internship. Their website offers ideas on different community based outings which is something I have struggle to plan for my students. These outing need to be educational and relevant to young adult life and it has been difficult to plan field trips that are engaging and appropriate. I was thrilled to find many different examples of community based outings and am looking forward to implementing them into our lessons.

Desimone, L. M (2011). A Primer on Effective Professional   Development. Kaplan Magazine, 92(6), 68-72. Retrieved November 28, 2016, from https://bbweb03.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-1068143-dt-content-rid- 2249919_1/courses/EDU6134_10240_201561/Desimone2011. pdf

Webquest Chart of Professional Organizations

EDU 6150 – Course Reflection: Communicating with Students and Families

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