The start of a new school year, endless possibilities…a chance to start a new.

Last year I chose captivate. I feel that I was quite successful as evidenced in my reflections and end of year blog. While captivate came up again in my self-assessment this year as a potential area of growth, I do not feel it was because I still had a long way to go, but more so because I wanted to continue where I left off. I’ve spoken to one of my co-teachers about it and it is an area that we will both be conscious of throughout the year.

The second self-identified area of need turns out to be CONFER. While I feel this is an area of strength for me overall, there are a few areas within the category that I would like to improve upon this year.

When I stated above that I feel that the CONFER category is an overall strength, I honestly believe this. I was taught in my original SPED training program, that we are first and foremost advocates for our students. In order to advocate for someone you really need to get to know them, otherwise how will you ever know what they really need assistance with? In looking at the holistic education of a child, we need to understand who they are as a person, before we can provide a truly individualized program of education (and advocacy) for them. In this are I am quite comfortable, I truly put in the time to get to know my students. The area that I find that I struggle with when it comes to conferring with students is giving them sufficient (at times) voice when we are learning together. I find that I frequently go into lessons with a specific intention, something that is problematic for a student to understand, and I am really focused in remediating and overcoming the obstacle du jour. Because of this hyper-focus on my part, and because I feel that I have to teach the concept as quickly and as efficiently as possible, I find that I will take into my interaction with the student my “agenda” for the lesson, and will be teaching the concept to the student instead of learning along with them. If I am teaching AT someone, they are much more likely to feel disengaged and while they might eventually understand the point that I am teaching to…but ultimately, some additional learning is potentially lost because I have lost sight of who my student is at these moments, and could just as easily be teaching a concept to anyone. This is especially true when consider if I give thought to: “if I give students opportunities to share their thoughts about how learning activities should happen”. I find that I miss the bout here frequently. The student, if given the opportunity to voice their opinion might teach me a new way that they have found, helps them learn, or perhaps something else another teacher has done with them that might have been successful in the past. I plan to be much more intentional in this area, along with giving students more opportunities to express their views.