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Interview with Cooperating Teacher 

- Steeple Run, July 9th, 2019 

● What made you want to teach primary special education? 

○ “I was fortunate enough to have had really good teachers 

growing up who inspired me to give back. I want to give 

students the positive experiences I had in the classroom.” 

● What is the most challenging part of your job? 

○ “I work with a lot of teaching aids and it can be difficult 

training them. I use a lot of positive reinforcements and avoid 

punishment as much as possible which some of the T.As are not 

used to. Another thing that is challenging for me is making new 

lessons. Since I work with children who are all unique and have 

a multitude of different needs, I am unable to use the same 

material every year. This requires a lot of lesson planning. 

● How do you keep going when something is challenging? 

○ “I have an inspiration drawer which helps to motivate me. It 

has pictures of all of the students I have ever taught and 

letters as well. I even have a letter from a student who was 

unable to write her name when I first started teaching her. In 
the letter, she wrote that I was the best teacher she had ever 

had! I also believe that you have to look at strengths rather 

than weaknesses when working with special needs students. If I 

only focused on how far my kids were academically behind 

others in their grade level, I would be devastated. The students 

I teach are funny, caring, and have huge personalities which 

brings so much joy into my job.” 

● What is your favorite thing about your job? 

○ “I love working with kids and seeing their personalities because 

they are all so different. Seeing the growth of my students is 

amazing as well. I recently had a student who was completely 

non-verbal when I first started teaching her. She lived a life 

almost like a robot, meaning that she would go with the flow 

and would not even say ‘no’ when she did not like something. 

Now she is speaking more and more every day.” 

● How do you motivate students to learn? 

○ “Every year we do pairing the first few weeks of school. This is 

when we bring a bunch of toys and reinforcements in and just 

play with the students. This helps motivate them and teaches 
the students that good things come from the T.As and I. We 

gradually introduce lessons in as time goes by. We repeat 

pairing activities when we come back from winter break as 

well. Another important way to motivate students is to be their 

cheerleader and to bring silliness into the classroom.” 

● What would you say to someone entering the same field as you? 

○ “You have to bring humor into the classroom and embrace the 

funny moments throughout the day. Not only does this help 

keep you going, but kids can easily sense when you are upset 

which rubs off on them. You must also be patient and 

compassionate with every student you teach. You have to 

advocate for them because they can not do it themselves.”