My First Student Was Myself (Special Education Teacher’s Story)

I have always day-dreamed of having a teacher blog and sharing ideas on Teachers Pay Teachers, so when a friend of mine messaged me and told me I should start blogging my ideas, I jumped on it. So…here we are! I am starting out with a Freebie for 9/11 activities and a little info about me, Addie. Click that link. Download the FREEBIE. See if you like my details in the accommodations, and expect that same support with all your future purchases.

41033391_10212778923243386_3575711697286987776_n (1)I am Addie. I am a 23-year-old entrepreneur-wanna-be exceptional education (Jefferson County’s inclusive way of saying special education) teacher wife. I am married to my college sweetheart, Tyler. He pushes me to be a better me, daily. He encouraged me to pursue my dream of special education all throughout school while even sharing memories with me at a summer camp for children and adults with special needs. I attended my 5th summer this past year, and I have dreams of going back every year.

I have always been a teacher. Since early elementary, I brought home every book I had at school in order to re-teach myself everything my teachers “taught” that day. I said “taught” because though they were exceptional teachers, 18 years ago education was different. I struggled. I could not process what my teachers said while lecturing. I am that student that has to write the information down, condense the information, and then illustrate the information. Back then, lecturing was huge.  Centers only happened in Kindergarten.

Sitting still in a seat quiet as a mouse was expected and demanded. Having piles of homework each night was typical. Chapter tests in each subject “directly from the book” happened every Friday. I had great  teachers, but I had difficulty learning in the early 2000’s manner. I am a “study all week and get a C” kinda gal.

I vividly remember sobbing each night in elementary and middle school over homework. I knew then I would not ever require homework from my future students. After trying so hard all day to do my best, pay close attention not to miss the homework page numbers being given, and hoping no one realized how weird I was, I was exhausted. I had very little time between the 3 o’clock bell and the 9:00 pm bedtime that was not filled with homework and studying. I honestly did not enjoy learning. I struggled to comprehend anything I read (more than a paragraph) until the summer between 6th and 7th grade when I went to a reading camp. “How embarrassing?!” I thought. At that camp I was taught strategies to help me process what I had read..a paragraph at a time. I learned that I had to take intense notes on what I read in order to be able to make any understanding of it. I continue to do that today. In college I would take intense notes, share them with my friends that slept in, and they would still do better than me on the test. After college I tutored elementary students. We played games, read silly poems, and learned how to enjoy even homework. I love 1-1 teaching.

For meetings now, I  have learned that I can first listen to what someone is saying to me by looking at them and I can go back and re-read the handouts. Or I can listen and take intense notes on everything they say.

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So here I am 5 years after high-school graduation, teaching students. My very own students. I teach them reading, math, social studies, science, life-skills, and so much more. It is my dream job.

When I approach my students today, I have a part of me that wants structure and silence, since I was raised with the “sit down and stay quiet” early education, and then I have a “duh” moment  and want my kids to just learn something in some form. So if you follow my blog, you’ll notice we paint a lot. We answer test questions orally standing in the hallway. We do data collection swinging on a swing, jumping on a trampoline, or laying on a rug. We learn, though.

IMG_3777We have fun. We dance everyday. We reward ourselves for the hard work we put in and then we jump right back into work. We use computers, task cards, dry-erase and magnet boards, games, flashcards, books, music, videos, crafts, projects, posters, and even cook.

We like to dig in and sit on a topic for several days instead of hopping from one thing to another. We move slow some days, but we grow and we build upon each concept. We back track somedays and fast track the others. We get discouraged and we get back up. We try out a lot of methods and discuss openly what works. We build relationships and we learn how to keep them. We act silly and sometimes we even dab (every time someone sneezes). We tell jokes and make each other laugh. We love so stinkin’ hard and care so, so much. We are one month in, and we enjoyed every little quirk and hiccup encountered along the way.

I’d love for you to follow my journey to changing the way we see school and learning. I am still learning to like learning.  I stopped actually enjoying reading around 2nd grade when I could no longer keep up with my grade level. I just started reading again. I believe helping others fall in love with growing intellectually has helped me in my desire to grow in that way, too.

Love,

That teacher wife, Addie

 

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