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Rebecca Baughman

November 13, 2016

Preclinical Reflection Paper

My Time at Indian Trail Junior High School

I chose to complete my preclinical observation hours at Indian Trail Junior High School.
This school goes from sixth grade to eighth grade. Over the course of seven days and over
twenty hours, I observed several different classrooms with varying kinds of special education
criteria. At the beginning of my observation hours, I observed cross-cat classes. Cross-Cat is a
shortened way of saying Cross Categorical. This is a class that includes students with a variety
of eligibilities. These eligibilities can include, but are not limited to Learning Disabilities,
Emotional Disabilities, other health impairments, Physically Disabled, and having Autism. The
final day I observed at Indian Trail, I was in a classroom that had children with Autism, down
syndrome and intellectual disabilities. Each class is different and brings new and exciting
learning opportunities for someone like me.
My first two days I observed the same class. Then the following days I went from class
to class to be able to experience many different classes. In each of these classes, the students
truly varied in their disabilities. Some of the children in this class appeared to not have a
disability, however they could possibly have had a disability such as ADHD, Emotional
disability, or a mild intellectual disability. I know firsthand how someone with a disability that is
not visible can be treated. I personally have RA. My son has ED and ADHD. Neither of these
disabilities are visible on the outside. Just because someone doesnt appear to have a disability,
doesnt necessarily mean that they dont. At first the children in the room looked at me like I did
not belong. The last day of my observation, I was in a class that had students were Autism, down
syndrome and intellectual disabilities. I knew that all children with all different disabilities
attended school, but I had not really interacted with them on a personal level prior to my
observation hours.
I observed a total of eight teachers and their classes. I noticed that the classes were made
up of fewer children than the typically classroom. In the first class I observed there were only
eleven children in the class compared to the common 25-30. One of the children was in a power
wheelchair. He had use of his arms but moved about in a jerking movement. Looking around
the room, I noticed children that were fidgeting in their chairs and one student was rocking back
and forth. There was an aide in most of the classes also. The child in the power wheelchair had
his own aide that followed him to his classes throughout the day. I had the privilege of observing
some of the same students in different classrooms with different teachers. I noticed that
sometimes they acted different simply because it was a different class or teacher.
On the last day, the children in the Autism room behaved differently from the children in
the cross-cat classes. These children were very active. Some could not speak very well, and
some not at all. One of the boys came over to me and said hello, but never really looked at me.
For that day, they were painting pumpkins. The students were able to choose what they wanted
to paint on their pumpkins. Some painted basic shapes, some cartoon characters and some only
painted color on the pumpkin. One of the girls jumped up out of her seat, ran over to me and
hugged me. The teacher told her that it was not right for her to do this, especially without asking
if it was ok first. She then asked me if she could give me a hug and of course I said yes. All of
the students displayed their best work on the pumpkins.
In each class the curriculum varied however seemed to be extremely similar. In multiple
classrooms the teacher and students discussed the upcoming election. They read from their small
Rebecca Baughman
November 13, 2016
Preclinical Reflection Paper

workbooks about the election, the Electoral College, and different issues that people discuss
when talking about politics. They learned to read a map legend and calculate miles on a map.
Most of the teachers used the projector to display the lesson or questions up on the white board
so everyone could see. During certain activities the classes would break in to groups. One group
would read at a higher level than the others but it was not expressed to the students. The students
were required to write down their homework assignments in their assignment notebooks for each
class. When the students were finished with a particular assignment and did not have any other
homework to work on, they were required to take a cross-word puzzle or word search to work
The students had various assistive technology in the classes. One student was in a power
wheelchair. He had a board where he could set his book so that he could read along with the
class. He also had a white board where he could write down answers with assistance from his
aide. Another student had an electronic device that read a book to her. Other students had
objects that they held in their hands to comfort themselves. In the last classroom I observed in
there were many different object that help the students calm down and focus. Not all of them
worked but they were able to regroup after an activity pretty easily. They had texture balls, feel
books, computers, music and mats to help the children be productive. The aides in this class had
books with Velcro stickers of an item or character that the student chose. They gained free time
or the ability to do their favorite activity if they stayed on task and completed their chart of 10
squares with this item. I think this is a brilliant way of keeping track of the students
accomplishments and an easy way to reward the student.
Some of the teachers seemed to be annoyed by behaviors that some of the students
displayed. For example, after writing and typing up a paragraph about bats, the class made bats
out of construction paper. They had to cut out the bat shape, eyes, hat or bow, and then put them
together. Once they finished putting them together, they were given googly eyes to paste on the
bats. The teacher explained to the students that they were responsible to clean up their areas
after making their bats. Some of the students missed some scraps. Instead of commanding them,
I feel like the teacher could have reminded them to clean up. I went over to the scraps and asked
the students to give them to me so that I could throw them in the garbage. I also noticed that it
appeared a few teachers did not want to go the extra mile when helping their students. I
understand this helps the student become more independent, however sometimes that little bit of
push or help can benefit the student to do better in the future. Not all teachers can demonstrate
patients that are needed when working with children with disabilities.
Over all I enjoyed my observation hours at Indian Trail Junior High School. I enjoy
working with children of all ages. Children with disabilities sometime just need a little more
attention and finesse in order for them to succeed. When working with children with disabilities
it seems important that the class size is smaller so that the teacher is able to provide a little bit
more attention to each child. The curriculum being adjusted but at grade level is also beneficial
for the students. Assistive technology can be very helpful in the classroom. Some children
depend on it. Many of the teachers I have talked to or observed in their class seem to be lacking
these small details. I know that I can be an excellent teacher because I have a child with a
disability, so I have experience on both sides of the IEP meeting table. I have loved working
with all different children and find it both fun and fascinating. When this is accomplished, the
students can achieve great success.