Today in the Inspirational Teacher Series we profile Patrick Black. Patrick is one of the most popular special educators on twitter and is your go to guy when you are seeking advice on using technology in the special education classroom. When I originally conceived of this series a couple of months ago I knew I needed Patrick to particpate and I’m glad he did.
1. What is your name?
2. What is your education level and credentials?
BS – in Special Education, certified in special and general education
3. What would you like a one-sentence description of yourself to say?
I’m a geek, who uses technology to help students with learning, socializing and being independent.
4. Do you have a website?
5. How long have you been a Teacher?
6. What type of classroom do you teach (i.e. General Education, Special Day Class, etc)?
Self-contained special education classroom with lots of opportunities for inclusion, in a 2nd – 5th grade school
7. What Research based instruction methods do you use in your classroom for your students with a disability?
Wow, that’s a big one! I’ve used all sorts of instructional methods right now I use Verbal Behavior, which is an extension of ABA Therapies (http://marcsundberg.com), a modified 4 blocks reading model where students get explicit instruction in phonemic awareness (Heggerty Phonemic Awareness program – http://www.literacyresourcesinc.com/what/about/), sight words instruction and explicit phonics instruction – typically a direct instruction program like the Early Literacy Skills Builder developed by Diane Browder or Reading Mastery. Fluency is worked on in a guided reading model.
8. What other educational methods have you used that have been successful for your students with a disability?
I use 1:1 instruction, small group and large group instruction to help reach my students. I use a lot of visuals throughout the lessons and classroom. Boardmaker is one of my favorite programs! I also find that the student graviate toward technology and work to incorporate it into the lessons.
9. How do you create inclusion opportunities for your students with a disability?
It’s something that I am constantly working on. The school I work in is very open and accepting of the students and we have many peers who are interested and excited to work with the students. I do my best to help them be included with their peers for all activities outside of core academics. Another key component is my instructional assistants, without their support in the general ed setting inclusion would not be possible. The provide constant feedback to me about what is working, share wonderful ideas of things we could try and are constantly looking out for the students.
10. What behavior strategies and methods have worked for you in the classroom for students with a disability?
Functional Behavior Analysis, stepping back and analyzing that troubling behavior before you react is the best advice I can give. Finding out why before you try and fix it will make it so much easier!
11. How do you involve parents in educating their children in and out of the classroom?
I do my best to involve parents in all decisions about their child, explain why we are trying what we are doing, and hopefully help them see themselves as part of the team. I think by having open, honest communication you can accomplish this.
12. How do you communicate with the parents?
I communicate many ways with my parents. I write a daily log to them about their child’s day, what activities we’ve completed or skills we’ve worked on. These are written in a Google Docs spreadsheet that the related service team can see as well as the parents. When the year is done the parents have an entire year’s worth of communication stored in one place. Many of my parents email me with questions or concerns.
13. How do you collect data to determine if a child has met their IEP Goals?
I actually have a simple system using address labels. I print out a set of labels that includes the goals, stick them on a clipboard, and write away! I transfer the stickers to a binder where I have all the data sorted out and can view it all in one place. I wrote a blog post about my system a while back – http://teachingall.blogspot.com/2008/07/data-data-data.html
14. What is a typical day like in your classroom?
It can get a little crazy, I currently have 3 grade levels and so that means 3 different schedules. Throughout the day instructional assistants will take kids to music, art, PE, APE or homeroom. OT, PT, Speech, social work are also scheduled in throughout the week. Special events with their general education peers are worked in as necessary. We also spend some time working on functional life skills, independent work skills, science and social science!
15. What is the most inspirational thing you have ever seen in the classroom?
It was a general education peer (in 5th grade) who wrote me a letter saying how much she enjoyed working with the students in my classroom, and would love to do more. Then went on to ask if I knew of any opportunities for her to volunteer this summer to help them out at camp and such!
16. What advice would you give other Teachers about teaching students with a disability?
All students can learn, if you assume they can learn it you will never be surprised when they do!
17. What else would you like Parents and other Teachers to know that we haven’t already asked?
Please take a moment and check out the EdCeptional Podcast that I do with 3 other wonderful educators – Deb Truskey, Anne Truger and Tricia Lazarro – http://edreach.us/edceptionalshow