Welcome to My Alphabet Soup Life! For quite awhile now, I’ve been attempting to get a blog off the ground and running. I always feel like I have everything and nothing to say – and I’m not sure that what I have to share will be valuable or valued. But, at the end of the day, I have a lot on my mind and I need a place to share my thoughts, reflect on my teaching and evaluate my practices. Special education is, after all, a very challenging field. I think that’s what I like most about it – no two days are ever the same!
Why Alphabet Soup?
If you know a special education teacher, work with one, live with one or have ever met one, you are aware that SpEd Teachers are capable of having entire conversations using just the acronyms that special education is so overly fond of creating.
You know how these conversations go! “I need a FBA for a BIP needed for an IEP in order to be in compliance with IDEIA and FAPE! Maybe we should use some CBMs to determine if the student is SLD and needs AT.”
See? Alphabet Soup.
The Challenge of Special Education
I never wanted to be a teacher. Growing up, my parents were teachers and all of their friends were teachers. They all frequently told me that I was going to be a teacher – and as an obstinate teenager, I assured them there was no way I wanted to join the profession! Fast forward through a multitude of life experiences, traveling the world, and a couple stints as a nanny and I found myself wondering “what next”?
What was next turned out to be enrolling in a masters program in special education. It just sort of all fell together by accident! Although I had had some experience as a special education paraeducator years before, I don’t really know if I knew what I had just signed up for! But it was the right choice for me and I instantly knew I had made the right decision (yes, mom and dad were right, I was going to be a teacher!).
My first teaching job was at a now closed high school in Thornton, Colorado. I instantly fell in love with the job. I absolutely loved the challenge! The school I worked at was significantly impacted with many high risk students and a very high drop out rate. But watching my students walk across the stage to get a diploma was worth all of the hard work and challenges they threw my way.
Then the district restructured and I ended up moving to a K-12 school teaching the elementary special education students. This again was a challenge that kept me on my toes! Switching from secondary to elementary made me realize just how much I didn’t know as a teacher and how much more I still needed to learn.
Four years ago, I moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming and started a new journey as a special education teacher at Anderson Elementary. Wyoming brought a new set of challenges and ample opportunities to grow professionally.
Knowing What You Don’t Know
As a special education teacher, we are constantly being thrown curve balls – what works for one student, doesn’t work for another. It is always a challenge and I am constantly reinventing and refining my practice.
When you first start teaching (ok let’s be very honest, for the first five years or so), you are just getting your feet under you. Managing the day to day aspects of teaching, paperwork, meetings and other unexpected challenges seems more like a juggling act in a circus than a teaching job.
Now, 11 years later, I finally feel like I have most of my job under control – but don’t get me wrong, there’s still SO much more to learn! I think good teachers always keep learning, growing and reflecting. There’s still so many ways I can grow and improve!
Boards and More
Right now my big challenge is finishing up my National Board Certification. This process is certainly stretching me professionally and making me think very critically about my practices and teaching. Two more components to go!
I was also recently appointed to the state panel for students with disabilities. I’m excited to participate on this board and be an advocate for my students and students across the state. I hope to include some of this experiences in my blog.
Also, I’ve been dreaming of a doctorate…but it’s just an idea at the moment! I don’t think I will ever stop learning.
Reflecting on the Journey
Reflecting is such an important part of becoming a better teacher. I want to formalize my reflection process, or at least make them more meaningful and share my learning with others. I am hoping this blog will give me a place to do this – and maybe one day other will help me grow by providing me with their feedback!
So this is my blog – where I will be doing my best to make sense of the alphabet soup, reflect and improve on my teaching and professional practices, and be a better advocate for my students, families and teams that I work with on a daily basis. I am looking forward to creating a library of all of the resources I find valuable in one place so I can more effectively share them with my colleagues and parents.
Welcome to my blog!