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Reflection Paper ED-SPED 250-001 Fall 2012

Bree Hohnbaum

November 27th, 2012

1. What are your assigned students primary strengths (academic, behavioral, personality, etc.)? Joe is a helpful boy who was diagnosed with having a traumatic brain injury and also emotional/behavioral disturbance at the age of 5. I didnt quite catch what happened that caused the TBI, but it seems pretty emotional, so I did not ask too many questions. Joe knows he has a TBI and talks about it all the time, but I still could not get a definite cause for it, even out of him. Joe loves to be in class, especially when he is knowledgeable on a subject. He doesnt usually keep it to himself though, because before long, he is shouting out answers all over the place. My mentor teacher and the other students view this as normal, and dont show much surprise when this ends up happening in class. Usually Joe only needs a little nudge or a scolding by my mentor teacher before he remembers that he is supposed to raise his hand and take turns. Joe shows great math skills. He is even ahead of some of his other classmates! When the class is working on math, Joe is often one of the first people done. However, his hastiness sometimes gets him into trouble and some answers are wrong, simply because he was working too fast and too confidently. He has shown improvement in this area, and continues to slow his pace with math. When Joe is in a good mood, he has many friends in the classroom. Many of the students choose him as a partner. Although, if Joe is in a bad mood, the other students tend to steer clear and avoid him at any cost. It is random which days are good or bad, but through talking with him, I have noticed that it is usually home-centered and is an incident that happens the night before or the morning before school. I have also come to find out that through talking with him about the issue or about something he enjoys, he can calm down and be in a good mood again, ready for the day. There are times when this is not the case and not much work gets done. Joe gets breaks when he has been a good student for a certain period of time. If Joe completes all his work and does not act out in class, he gets 10 minutes of free time to either go on the computer, read, or play tetherball which is located right outside the classroom. He usually picks to play tetherball and he likes when I play with him. We talk and work out a lot of issues this way.

2. What are your students primary areas of needs? Joe needs help with control the most. Joe often forgets he is inside or in a classroom and shouts at people, the teacher, or just in general. He also has frequent outbursts when he does not want to do something. The outbursts have gotten less frequent since I have been observing, but they are still there. It is not a pleasant sight to see this happen, and it usually takes up class time, making everyone fall a bit behind. Joe also has his workload cut in half, depending on the assignment. Some assignments, like math, he is able to do the entire assignment, but most he only has to complete half. Some days, when he is in a good, nice mood, he will complete every assignment he has that day. These are usually the days when, the last half hour of class, he is aloud free time and he really enjoys this; although, this does not happen very often. Joe is absent many days out of the year. One week his did not come a single day. This could be medically related, but when he comes back to class he is usually tired and uninvolved. He gets extra time for these assignments or he simply does not have to do them. Joe does not like to ask for help. He generally has an aide that is constantly asking, after everything the teacher says, if he understands. He almost always says yes, but then when it comes time for him to work on his assignment, he has no idea what he is doing. He then has to have the whole segment of what the teacher said, repeated to him so he can do the assignment. This is also where the focus problem comes into play. Joe is in need of constant care. He almost always has an aide with him or someone sitting close by to remind him, about every two minutes, what he needs to be doing or to focus on what the teacher is saying. He also has frequent outbursts of saying inappropriate or disturbing things. The students around him know to not listen to him when he is like this and everyone in the class tries to help out just a little. Once Joe knows he is doing something or saying something wrong, he stops and says sorry. 3. What are the two most important things you learned about students with disabilities? The first thing I learned about students with disabilities is that you must be patient and level-headed. This is by far, the most important thing I could tell anyone about students with disabilities. Drop your problems at the door and come in to the classroom with a bright outlook on how things will turn out, and usually that positivity will run off on your student(s). Students with disabilities are often saying mean, inappropriate, or hurtful things, and it is best to not take these to heart or get mad. Take deep breaths, focus, and then come back to the problem thinking logically and positively. I think the students work best when all parties follow this. The second thing I learned about students with disabilities is to never give up; not on them, yourself, or your class. There were times during my observation where I would

either not want to show up or I would just want to leave and quit the whole process and just take my F for the class. I quickly learned this is not the way to go and can be so much more beneficial if you stick it out. Often when I would have these feelings, I would show up to observe the next day and be greeted with a huge hug by Joe and many other students. This warmed my heart and taught me that giving up isnt the option. It may be hard, but stick it out. 4. What are two strategies or accommodations for students with disabilities that you believe to be most important for you to incorporate in your future work as an elementary educator? One strategy that I would use for students with disabilities, especially those with emotional/behavioral disturbance is how my mentor teacher used positive reinforcement with Joe. When he was good and did his work with no outbursts or inappropriate talk, he then received 10 minutes free time. After talking with Joe, he told me that, although it is very hard to stay on task and not have an outburst, he tried as hard as he can because he knows when he gets that break, he had been doing well. He also told me that he does not receive the proper praise at home, and that the only place he feels like he can do something good is at school. I had always thought the breaks were a waste of valuable teaching time and distracted him when he came back to class, but after talking with him, I now know this is an important and valuable tool to use in my own classroom someday. I really liked the way my mentor teacher gave praise. Joe had a piece of laminated paper that had five squares on it. In each square it says, 4 more, 3 more, 2 more 1 more, and PRIZE! and they also have Velcro in each square. Each time my mentor teacher or I would catch him either doing something nice, or staying on task, he would then get a penny in his square, which also had Velcro attached to the back of it. Once he had reached the PRIZE! square, he was able to pick out a prize from a bin that my mentor teacher had in the back room of the classroom. Joe really enjoyed this and would often pick up around other students desks, help others when they asked, and even gave compliments. Looking back now, I do not think Joe was doing this for the prize he received, but I think he was doing this for praise. He knew that every time he got another penny, he was doing something good and the people around him would congratulate him and make him feel special, in that moment. I really enjoy this idea and think this is a great idea for my future classroom, especially with difficult students. 5. What are the two most important things you learned about yourself as a future teacher of students who have disabilities? One of the most important things I have learned about myself as a future teacher of students with disabilities is that I can do it. Honestly, I was a little scared to go into a classroom and be forced to work with a student with a disability. Now, when I say that, I get embarrassed. Working with these students can be the most rewarding (and

challenging!) thing you can ever do. I learned that I can adapt the general classroom to fit each and every student. The second most important thing I learned about myself as a future teacher of students with disabilities is that everyone is different, not just the students with disabilities. Each student has their own strengths and weaknesses, no matter if they have a disability or not. I would frequently catch Joe teaching other students things they didnt know. I learned that all students are created equal and it is best to highlight their attributes rather than think of them as a burden in your schedule. Trying to accommodate all students at their varying levels is the challenge, I now know that I am up to take it!