Friday, January 18, 2008

My day job

A few other women bloggers have been blogging bits and pieces of their lives and I enjoy reading that quite a bit. What do I do? I am a little shy about my other pursuits so I don't write about them often.

However, here goes. A little change of pace for this blog. I am a resource teacher. Half of my day is spent on my Reading Recovery assignment, during which time I work with only one student at a time. It is a great opportunity to observe the strategies a child uses in becoming literate and develop the theory and practice of literacy.

I am incredibly fortunate in having a job like this and the children do well. I use the same teaching methods throughout the day with other children so the program benefits more than just the few who are actually enrolled in it. It has helped create an ethos of individual attention for each child.

I teach older children, grades 2 - 5 in groups of 4 to 8 students. If there are only 4 children, we sit at a low round table covered with colourful roll paper. Each child has a large felt pen and 6 coloured blocks. We use the blocks, letter tiles, and writing on the paper to develop sequencing and segmenting strategies for reading previously unknown words. The blocks are from the Auditory Discrimination in Depth kit. We read terribly exciting books, or what passes for that.

Several periods a week I team teach a class, either in math or language arts. We also have several mentally handicapped children, one with Down's syndrome. A couple of children have severe articulation difficulties. These children are fully integrated and sure we have our doubts sometimes, but overall I think it works well. We really do integrate them.

I would say that the distinctive of my programme is how the kids feel about coming to my room. Yes, I am the special needs teacher but most of the children - not all but most - would kill to come down to my room. They feel like it is special. Of course, these are the little ones. When I used to work with the older grades, I always had some techy sort of project to teach on the computer and give students something to feel very accomplished about.

All last term I had my two preps on Friday afternoon. Who needs preps anyway, right? So I held open house. A few former students from the high school dropped in and then they would each go and get a child who needed extra help or attention and spend half and hour with them in my room.

They could read, of course, and I have the best books, or play with the train or dolls house, or learn to make a power point, or write a letter to a buddy on the computer.

So, how does a special needs teacher make it seem like a treat for a student to come to her room. Mostly she says things like "If you are really good, you can have an extra period with me this week." Or "I missed you so much when you were away sick, honey." (I call them all "honey" cause I am pretty bad with names.)

You know, I am not kidding. If you call someone "honey" or "sweetie" or something like that, they really do like it.

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