Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Interview with a Special Educator: Part 7 of the Blog Chronicles

I have been eagerly anticipating the responses from this phenomenal special education teacher! Hot off the presses!

How do you see a true multidisciplinary team functioning?
The reference makes me think most of our evaluation process in which a team gathers with experts in a variety of fields. Working together, we listen to the struggles a classroom teacher may have with a particular student. Each expert offers their interpretation based on their field and through listening to the variety of perspectives we come to an understanding of how to help a student.

What message do you have for the powers that be (administration, DOE, elected officials, etc. Your choice).
I wish that those in power would stop pushing a competitive, business model onto education. I do not believe that the model is working nor is it appropriate to the education of children with such a wide range of needs. Yes, we all want students to be proficient readers and critical thinkers but in pushing for educational performance over and above all other economic, environmental, physical, and cognitive factors we ignore the larger issues that are oppressing our children. With investments into neighborhoods, we can build up the structure within which schools function and stop asking educators to be parents, counselors, nurses, nutritionists, etc. The burn out rate in our profession is high and even higher in charter schools, where the structure is intended to be independent of neighborhoods. Where neighborhoods are neglected, children will require more support from the school to compensate and educators will be spread too thin.

What do you see as the most pressing issue impacting our students today? Why?
I believe that school should be a place where children are excited to learn, create and explore. As educators we need to fiercely protect this directive and the biggest threat is over testing. Data from independent activities is essential but when so many stakeholders want data in their own format we begin testing more in order to accommodate. It will be a good day when engaging assessment activities that teachers design are the methods that administrators and DOE’s use to assess proficiency. For this to happen, the DOE needs to trust teachers to be responsible to honestly assess their students. The over-testing is a direct result from a lack of trust in teachers.

What energizes you to come to work everyday? What keeps it "fresh" for you?
My students are my focus. I could care less about paperwork, deadlines, or meetings. Even paychecks are not that motivating. If I have an opportunity to plan, teach, and assess great lessons, that is a good day.

Describe your dream work environment? How does your dream compare with your reality?
How can you make it a reality?

I have a dream work environment at this time. After 15 years, I actually believe I might be good at this job, but I want to be great. I believe that my community supports education, but I wish my state supported those in poverty better. I believe that my colleagues are brilliant but I wish that we had more time to truly collaborate. We can always do better but I am so thankful for feeling like I can be successful.

I wish you saw yourself the way I see you; YOU ARE GREAT!

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