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Field Interview Assignment 1

Field Interview Final Assignment

Robert Antoniewicz

University of Kansas
Field Interview Assignment 2

Field Interview Final Assignment

The special education field is not for everyone. There can be challenges in special

education classes that may not always be found in the general education classes. Matt Carr is

someone that I have grown to known over the past year while working in the field of special

education. During this time, I have seen how Carr goes about his daily routine and how he

implements effective methods into his daily lesson planning. I recently sat down with Mr. Carr to

interview him about his experiences teaching students with disabilities. He was very open and

honest about his time as an educator. During the interview, we discussed his path to becoming a

teacher, his teaching methods, and interactions that he had with other students and faculty.

The first few questions that I asked pertained to where Carr worked and how he got to

that point in his career. Carr explained that he worked at Seneca High School in Tabernacle, New

Jersey. It is there that he works as a Special Ed and English teacher. When asked how he came to

be a Special Education and English teacher, he explained how he came from a family of teachers

and that his experiences in school were what shaped the teacher he had become. Carr elaborated

that teaching is perfect for the lifestyle he wants to live and how it has been his good fortune that

he can have the impact on young people that he does today. While interviewing Carr, I found

that he had been a special ed teacher for two and a half years now but that he started as an

English teacher. However, his district asked him to go back to school to study special education.

From there, Carr was able to adopt new teaching techniques and strategies to help him adapt to a

new teaching environment. His experiences as a special education teacher, he said, have made

teaching and planning a much easier and more manageable job. So while it wasn’t what he

originally wanted to do, Carr was able to find a genuine admiration for special education teachers

and programs.
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Carr was adamant about his teaching philosophy, stating that he likes to always be

positive and set high expectations for his students. It is his hope that this will create a positive

environment for student learning. From this point of the interview, questions started to shift to

some of his methods of teaching and how he went about implementing these techniques. During

this process, Carr explained how he utilizes IEPs to see what needs students have and why they

effect how they learn. Mr. Carr is then able to use different forms of formative assessment to see

how students are retaining information. Drawing examples, he explained that he does through,

diagnostics, short classwork, cold reading, and journal prompts. When I asked how teaching

general education class differed from teaching special ed classes, Matt Carr said that he feels as

though the larger classes are easier to have discussions that flow well, as opposed to the smaller,

special education classes. When asked, about team teaching, he told me that he enjoys teaching

the larger special ed classes, partly because the extra adult in the classroom helps with classroom

management which usually enhances learning possibilities. Carr said that he enjoyed working

with other team teachers, but did explain that sometimes it can be frustrating taking on planning

responsibilities.

Co-teaching, like Carr previously stated can be frustrating at times. So I asked him what

one aspect of it he would change. “I think it should be made more clear that both teachers should

be in positions where they are seen as leaders of the classroom. In other words, one teacher is not

an “aid,” he or she should be just as capable as the other teacher to control the classroom and

lead a lesson.” explained Carr. I also asked Carr about his experiences interacting with parents

and guardians of his special education students during his tenure as a teacher. To this, Mr. Carr

admitted that he’s had mostly positive interactions with parents, and that most parents appreciate

him reaching out to them. Yet, he has experienced that some parents just do not responded at all,
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which to him, and myself, is a bit alarming. Carr said that he likes to inform his student’s parents

when their child is struggling with the material, but also when they excelling or behaving well.

This led to him explain that he makes it very clear, from day one, that he wants an open line of

communication between him and parents.

Next, the interview shifted to the methods Carr uses in his classroom and how they are

effective. He briefly explained the instructional practices he implements into his classroom.

Modeling, collaborative learning, graphic organizers, scaffolding, self assessments, and a variety

of guided questions are the tools and strategies he uses in his classroom. Of these, he finds that

modeling seems to be the most effective, as it catches the attention of the students, and since he

doesn’t have to waste time going over instructions, students will know exactly what he is looking

for because he has already modeled it himself. I have seen Mr. Carr implement these strategies

and be successful in doing so, but I have seen other teachers fail as well. So I asked what

behavioral practices seem to work for him in his classroom. Matt explained that he has a specific

set of routines and procedures in place so there is never too much down time for students. “All

students have silent reading books and know that if they are done their work and I have checked

it, they can throw in headphones and read. I am not one to yell or write students up. My rules are

my rules and if students struggle to follow them, I have conversations with them before getting

angry and resorting to sending kids down to the office,” explained Carr. He likes to be work out

his differences one on one with his students and has found that this has always been the most

effective practice for him. I finished up the interview by asking him if he attributes any of his

growth as a teacher to his time spent in the special ed classroom. Lastly, he stated that it has

definitely improved his patience and made him analyze his lesson much more closely, and he

absolutely believes he is a better teacher because of the time spent in special education
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classrooms. After wrapping up the questions, I thanked Carr for taking the time to sit down with

me and that observing him teach this past year and being able to work with him has definitely

helped me improve as a teacher.

After speaking with and observing Matt Carr teaching there is not a doubt in my mind

that he is an exceptional special education teacher, and that I can learn a lot from him. Much of

what he discussed, and what I have seen him do, has tied back in one way or another to what I’ve

come to know as best practice. I have come to know the being prepared, in most cases, over

prepared, is one of the important parts of being an educator in special ed. I have seen this with

Mr. Carr. He made it very clear that the co-teaching model is not always perfect but if carried out

correctly, can be such an effective form of instruction for students with special needs. This ties

back to the models of co-teaching that were gone over in this course and how they can be used to

help improve the learning of all students. Carr also elaborated on how he utilized IEPs in his

everyday teaching. This reinforced the importance of IEPs that was presented throughout this

class. Using the Individual Education Plan is something that will help every teacher better

understand certain students and how they learn. In all, much of what Carr and I discussed in our

sit down interview was useful for me to better understand and tie together all that was discussed.

In many ways I was able to bring everything, in one small way or another, back to a concept or

idea mentioned in this class. It has given me a solid foundation upon which I will be able to grow

into a successful and positive special educator for many children in the years to come.
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Interview Questions

1. Where do you work?

2. What is your current job title?

3. How did you come to do what it is you do now?

4. How many years have you been a special education teacher?

5. How has it changed for you since you first started? Or has it not?

6. Is special education something you’ve always wanted to teach?

7. Do you have certain teaching philosophy that you like to work by? If so, what is it?

8. How do you find ways to meet the needs of those you teach, especially those that have

disabilities inhibiting their learning?

9. In what ways is it different teaching general education classes from special education

classes?

10. Do you prefer to teach by yourself, or do you enjoy the team teaching aspect in some special

education classes?

11. How is it working with your team teachers/other educators?

12. If you could change one aspect of the co-teaching method of instruction what would it be? Or

do you think it is fine as is?

13. I’m sure over your time as an educator you’ve had to interact with parents/guardians. What

are some different types of interactions that you have had with parents during your tenure?

14. In what ways do you try interact but also, not interact with parents?

15. What are some different instructional practices that you implement into your classroom?

16. Of the different practices, which do you find most effective?

17. What are some different behavioral practices that you implement into your classroom?
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18. Of the different practices, which do you find most effective?

19. How have you grown as a teacher during your tenure?

20. Do you attribute your time in the special ed classroom for any of this growth?