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The Rookie Teacher

Archive for the ‘Special Education’

Finding the Beauty in Education: My Time as an Educational Assistant 0

Posted on February 04, 2012 by Natasha

One of the great things about running an online community like TheRookieTeacher.ca is that we get to hear feedback from all over the province, country, and the world!  This week we heard from Dante Luciani who asked to share his story about being an EA & the experiences leading him to teaching:

Everyone is different. It is one of the many beautiful aspects of mankind. Everyone is blessed with abilities and face their own challenges. Although at times it seems some face more challenges than others.  For a year and a half I worked with students who faced many challenges, physically, mentally, and emotionally. As an Educational Assistant my job was to educate these students in basic life skills and to modify curriculum expectations to allow them to learn to their full potential. This quickly became the most rewarding experience of my entire life and taught me invaluable lessons that will no doubt assist me as a teacher in the future.

The students I worked with were identified with a number of exceptionalities placed over the entire special education spectrum. The students’ needs varied a great deal. Some students just needed guidance in an inclusive classroom whereas others required a great deal of support and assistance, sometimes the care of up to three EAs. Having myself been a young student that was assisted by an EA, I understood much of the frustration that some of these students felt. With this in mind I knew how far positive encouragement and support could go. Given their circumstances, these students have experienced much difficulty in the classroom often combined with feelings of exclusion.  Providing these students with a positive learning environment goes a long way in helping them feel included in the classroom and the school community. Nevertheless, the students who were of much higher needs required far more than just a positive learning environment to reach their full potential. Many of the students in our Life Skills classroom required much attention and assistance with basic tasks such as communication, feeding and toileting. I was to care for students in ways I never thought I would. It was definitely a learning experience and one that will make me a better person. The high-needs students’ curriculum consisted of learning basic life skills that will allow them to one day possibly be able to assist themselves. The challenges that these students face each day are unimaginable to me. Both the students as well as their families possess a rare strength that many of us could not imagine having. It was the most rewarding experience to see these students accomplish such basic tasks. Everyday tasks that we so often take for granted such as repeating a sentence or taking a bite out of a sandwich on their own became accomplishments that deserved much celebration. Seeing these children learn and develop right before your very eyes was one of the best feelings you could feel and ensured me that there is nowhere else that I would rather be than in education.

photo: D.Luciani

photo: D.Luciani

Over that year and a half, I learned the art of patience and saw its importance in the classroom. Every student is wired differently. They each work in different ways and at different paces. As teachers it is important that we understand and appreciate these differences because that is what makes everyone special. It is amazing what we can accomplish with a little guidance and positive support. I learned more from these students than they could possibly have learned from me. Working with these students created the most genuine positive environment to work in and I will forever be grateful for this experience.

So, next time you are faced with a student who is becoming a challenge for you, try embracing their differences and showing them a little care. You never know what other challenges they face on their own…….. A little love goes a long way!

Dante Luciani, Blog
Twitter: @dlearn12

Live simply.

Love generously.

Care deeply.

Speak kindly.

Leave the rest to God.

People might forget what you said.

People might forget what you did.

People will never forget how you made them feel.

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Professional Development: The Lounge Podcast: Episode 4 0

Posted on January 01, 2012 by Natasha

The Lounge is a biweekly podcast brought to you by TheRookieTeacher[dot]ca.

Pen and Paper note taking

photo: N.Dunn

On this episode, two RookieTeachers discuss professional development. Being a Rookie is exactly what it sounds like – being new – meaning we have lots of energy, fresh ideas, and looking forward to hit a homerun!  Sometimes it helps to put a name or philosophy behind our ideas to help explain ourselves in interviews or during collaboration projects (so that we are using common language), or to provide a foundation/research for what we are doing in the classroom.  After the overwhelming response we had to Marsha’s previous post about AQs, we knew that this topic had to be discussed on The Lounge.


Each episode features three segments:

  1. Topic Discussion
  2. Quick Tip for Tomorrow
  3. The Rookie Resource Bank

Topic: Professional Development

Quick Tip for Tomorrow: Something you could do the next day in class with little or no prep and is applicable to most grade levels.

  • Andrew: Reading Beads
  • Natasha: Partner/Group making strategies (avoid getting left out)
The Rookie Resource Bank: any electronic, print, or event resource that we found helpful in our first few years of teaching.  Of course, these are all applicable to all teachers.
Quick Shout Outs
  1. Really exciting news – earlier this month we had our first 200+ views/day.  We want to thank everyone who is showing support for our new project.  Thank you for spreading the word and please continue to drop by our site and join in on the discussion.  We look forward to hearing from you soon
  2. Thank you for Liking us on Facebook – we are almost at our 100 person goal!
  3. We want to be your New Teacher Resource – Facebook poll – what are you looking for in a new-teacher website?

Thanks for listening. Join us for our next episode when we discuss BACHELOR OF EDUCATION ALTERNATIVES: How are you using your B.Ed outside the classroom?

We want to hear from you, please comment on the blog, follow us on twitter @RookieTeacherCA, join us on Facebook, or send us an email to info@TheRookieTeacher.ca.

Find Natasha (@yoMsDunn) and Andrew (@ABlakeTeach) on Twitter.

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The AQ Race 9

Posted on December 11, 2011 by Natasha

A - alone on the wall  by Eva the Weaver, FlickrCC.nettypewriter key letter Q  by Leo Reynolds

Whether you are a teacher candidate, new to the profession or even a veteran teacher, you probably know, what I call, the “AQ race”. I remember when the push to take AQ (additional qualification) courses began early in my practicum experience.  If you spoke to a new teacher they would tell you that getting your Special Education Part 1 was the key to getting a job, while others began to push the ESL course as a way to market yourself, and still others would promote Reading Part 1.  It wasn’t until talking to a mentor of mine that I was able to step back from “the race” and consider what AQ courses meant to me.

Now, without a boring description of self discovery, I’d love to share my perspective with you in short.  AQ courses are a wonderful way that teachers can become life long learners!  These course offer us an introduction to some of the latest classroom strategies, and better yet a support community.  To rush through a course with the sole intent of using it as a marketing tactic on a resume or point of conversation in an interview simply diminishes the golden value that AQs have to offer.

I look forward to one day enrolling in an AQ course like Reading Part 1 or Technology in the Classroom, when I can take my new learning from one session and apply it the next day to my classroom.  With a community around me that shares in my learning, I’ll seek support, advice and of course share my stories of success and failure.

Coin Question Mark by Sandro PereiraSo, this leads me to asking… What do AQ courses mean to you?  What value do they offer?  Or maybe, you have questions about AQ courses (as I had in teacher’s college, and still have today) and wish to ask them now!

I look forward to hearing from you!

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Announcify: Tech Apps for Accommodation 0

Posted on November 26, 2011 by Natasha
Announcify Logo

Announcify Logo

Great news…Yesterday I stumbled upon* a tool for students of all ages!
(*as seen on LifeHacker.com/5856460)

Announcify is a great little extension for Google Chrome and Android Devices and it works like this:  (a) transfers any website to a text page, (b) zooms in and highlights, (c) reads the text aloud.

<<note: While testing this extension, I ran into one problem…occasionally it will read aloud the html code from the webpage.>>

Ideas for Tomorrow

  • Announcify listening center (all you need is a laptop & some headphones)
  • Have students create websites then listen back to what they wrote
  • Upload tasks/quiz/tests for accommodation
Sounds great! …Hook me up
  1. Download Google Chrome for WIN or MAC
  2. Visit the Announcify extension on the Chrome Web Store
  3. Download and enable the Announcify productivity extension

Please share how you are using Announcify as an educational tech tool in your classroom…post a comment below.

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