I can’t say it enough… “My placement at Blasdell Elementary has completely exceeded my expectations and I have learned more than I ever could have imagined!” I felt like for a full seven weeks, I was a sponge at that school… soaking up as much knowledge and new information as humanly possible!
My supervising teacher was an excellent source of knowledge to me throughout my seven weeks. I watched and listened as she worked through some difficult situations with parents and handled herself with grace and professionalism. I observed as she introduced, practiced, and reinforced all of the routines she used in her classroom. These included the hall pass system, the strike system, chance tickets, paper headings, “give me five”, and many more. In times of academic struggle, like when they began the school year without a math program or textbook, she was methodical, logical, and focused. She was also well-organized and taught me how to keep track of everything done in the classroom on a day-to-day basis.
Each day, I sat at lunch with three fifth grade teachers, two of which were special education teachers. I wasn’t shy about asking questions, and spent a lot of time getting feedback from them about the field, suggestions for future career possibilities, and questions I had about practical use of some things I have learned in my classes. I was appreciative of the chance to speak so casually about certain things I was curious about, and leave with a lot of new information and answers. Due to these conversations, I was set up with several opportunities to observe student testing, sit in on departmental meetings, and Child Study Team (CST) meetings based off of Response to Intervention (RTI). These all proved to be great learning experiences for me that exposed me to some great special education collaborative practices.
The students taught me a few things as well, of course! I learned how to maintain a “matter of fact” tone of voice when faced with challenging student behavior. I learned how to plan interactive, motivating lessons but remain flexible when implementing them. And most of all, I learned the importance of taking time to get to know students personally and develop relationships with students. I better understood, through this placement, how vital it is to support students emotionally and create a safe, welcoming environment for students- that way they can feel safe in taking academic and social risks within the classroom.