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Art and Special Ed

Collaboration with other teachers seems at first difficult for a student teacher who does not yet have professional standing.  There are some things we simply cannot do on our own…yet.  One of the things my mentor teacher does is to include me in all the meetings with the Special Ed teacher/caseworker who is assigned to our two sculpture students.  I wrote about these two students (one in a wheelchair and the other with Asperger’s syndrome) early in the school year and mentioned that my mentor teacher was the first one to welcome them to her class.  It has been eye-opening for me to be involved in the planning, accommodation, teaching, and particularly important for this principle, working with the Special Ed department in the best interests of all our students.  This process has been one of both joy and frustration and has evolved into a terrific relationship between art and Special Education.

At the beginning of the semester, there were misunderstandings about expectations from both sides.  Our special needs students did not always have an aide, which they needed to work in the class, and we did not immediately have workable plans for sculpture with those students.  Moving forward took communication and a willingness to be open to the other person’s ideas.  I was nervous at first about being able to do well with those two students, not having any particular experience with such high needs students.  My mentor teacher showed me the emails she sent, requesting meetings when there was a change or she felt one was warranted.  They were professional and polite even when the situation was frustrating (not enough space for the wheelchair or no aide to help facilitate learning).  I watched her interact with the Special Ed teacher and became comfortable talking with him about the students’ needs on my own quite early.  I am learning to ask questions more often and be clear about how and what are realistic options within a class of thirty-two students, all of whom need the best from their teacher.  More is possible than I knew.

We meet with the Special Ed teacher both formally and informally.  He comes in to see how things are going and talks with both of us about the students’ progress.  Working together with the Special Ed department has changed my attitude from initial trepidation to feeling confident about including any student in the art process.  Yesterday, as they often do, both of our Special Ed sculpture students peeked into class before school just to say hello.  We have them the last period of the day.


~ by anitawesto on January 19, 2013.

ceramics, drawing & painting, sculpture, teaching