My Special Ed Placements: A Significant Teaching Experience

Topics: Teaching

Looking back on my life, one of most significant experiences of the pedagogical nature occurred recently while I was at one of my placements in the Special Education room at a local elementary school. Last semester, I was placed at a low-income school with 70% poverty and I didn’t have the best experience My cooperating teacher constantly belittled and screamed at students. The first thing that was said to me by my cooperating teacher was that I should consider changing my major because teaching is not worth the effort.

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Furthermore, there were countless behavior problems in almost every classroom of the school. Although the experience was not the greatest, I‘ve decided to write about the experience because it was definitely a learning experience and much of the content we discussed in class helped me to find new relationships regarding my placement and make me think of what 1 might have done differently while I was at my placement. When I first walked into my placement at School A, I was excited to begin my Special Education Practicum.

I wanted to get to know the students and the staff, as well develop lasting relationships that would carry on through my career as a teacher. Unfortunately, my expectations did not match the outcome, Before my practicum even began, two teachers in the building told me that I should consider changing my major. My cooperating teacher, who I looked to as a mentor for my experience, told me that I should consider changing my major because teaching is not worth the effort. I was disappointed that so many educators were telling me that shouldn’t become a teacher. I was honestly a little confused, because I couldn’t imagine do anything with my life other than teaching. when I think about my initial experience at my placement 1 can relate it to one of the goals of E5 490, The goal I can relate my experience to is: “students will show evidence of becoming ethically concerned, critically minded intellectuals and opinion generators.” My initial feeling of disappointed has been replaced with understanding.

Although I still do not want to do anything with my life other than educate, I’m able to understand why teachers might tell me to consider a career change, Aside from a lack of respect from the community, teachers are faced with constant scrutiny of what they teach students. In addition much of the curriculum and content that teachers use is controlled by our government. As stated by, educational philosopher, Giroux, “What is good for Disney and Microsoft is now the protocol for how global capitalism defines schooling, learning, and the goals of education, especially as it is imposed through the dictates of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank abroad, and corporate power at home. Schools are no longer considered a public good but a private good and the only form of citizenship increasingly being offered to young people is consumerism” (Giroux, p7), I now understand part of the reason why so many teachers tell me that I should change my major, however, ES 490 has helped me to shape my philosophy of education and part of my philosophy is that no matter how education changes within in society.

I believe that I can still be a great teacher, I believe that as educators, we should work with what we are given to provide students with the best educational opportunity possible. Furthermore, if the rules that are set for us as teachers prohibit us from delivering the best education possible, we need to be advocates for change. Although I was a bit shaken by all of the negativity coming from the staff at my placement, I was still excited for the actual hands on part of my practicum to begin. Despite begin placed in a negative environment, I wanted to learn as much as possible. Unfortunately, I faced a few barriers The first day of my placement, my cooperating teacher was constantly screaming at the students in her classroom. At one point my cooperating teacher stated, “I yell at the students to maintain control and I expect you [0 yell at them too” Yelling at students was not something that I was comfortable with. Because I was new to the school and I didn’t want to make a bad impression, I didn’t argue with my cooperating teacher.

I decided not to yell at the students, but instead attempt to be more firm with my expectations. I hoped that this would solve the problem, but unfonunately, the problem persisted throughout my time at my placement. When evaluating my experience and the fact that I was asked to yell at students, I can relate what happened to ES 490. According to John Dewey’s pedagogic creed, “the only true education comes through stimulation of the child‘s powers by the demands of the social situations in which he finds himself”. In my personal opinion, child-teacher interaction is a social situation. For some self-contained (this is the term that was used at my placement) students, interaction with the teacher is one of the few social opportunities they experience. If a child is constantly being screamed at whenever he or she is in a social situation involving a teacher, it‘s likely that he or she will shut down and not be able to meet the demands of social situations I can relate my feelings about the experience to the class goal: “students will become aware of the way knowledge is produced and reproduced.”

After looking through the changes that have come about involving the ideas of knowledge and education, it is apparent that one particular idea is becoming more common and is shared among many philosophers. The idea, proposed by John Locke, is that children learn more by example than by being told an idea According Locke, “Thus, it is crucial to create an environment in which children can learn from the example of their elders. In effect, the teacher models correct behavior for her or his students”. This means that children might acquire knowledge through watching adults participate in certain behaviors, When thinking about this in the context of my placement, students had acquired the knowledge of when to scream (which they did often), which was because of the environment that my cooperating teacher created. Looking back on my placement, I wish that I had acted to change the situation that the students were faced with. Because I chose not to yell at the students and instead decided to focus on using positive reinforcement, my cooperating teacher reprimanded me This left me feeling like 1 did not want to go back I went home and I cried for many of the first days of my placement, but I kept going back, partially because I needed to for my class and partially because despite everything that had gone wrong.

I thoroughly enjoyed working with the students. For my class, I was asked to find a focus learner and develop lessons to help my focus learner meet her lEP goal. Although reluctant to do so, my cooperating teacher allowed me to find a focus learner my projectt I was excited to create lessons for my focus learner because I wanted to see her succeed I wanted to help her reach her goals, Unfortunately when I looked at my focus learner’s lEP, it became apparent that her goals were not clear. One goal stated, “Student A (name left out to protect identity) will read at a second grade level, This goal was extremely vague and because there were no benchmarks, I had no way to know when she was supposed to meet the goalt Upon looking at other IEPS of different students, it appeared that all of the goals were vague and left a lot of interpretation to whoever read them. I the student’s lack of IE? goals to our class goal of “students become aware of the mechanisms that determine what counts as knowledge and how to deconstruct its artifacts.

My experience particularly relates to the following part of the goal: “students will be able to connect historical, philosophical, and legal trends with their implications for diverse learnersi” My placement helped me to realize the importance of IEPs and how goals within the lEPs are or in my case would have been extremely helpful for students. Although, the IEPS at my placement were not of the greatest quality, reading the textbook for class made me realize just how far we have come in the field of special education. Until 1975, students were not even required to have IEPs. Through the 19605 and even into the 19705, students with disabilities faced a similar situation to that of segregation in schools Students with special needs were often denied services that would have been beneficial and were separated from the rest of their peers It wasn‘t until late 19605 that PARC v Commonwealth of Pennsylvania took place. This case eventually led to Public Law 95-142 being passed in 1975, which required that students with special needs have lEPs or Individualized education plans, In reference to the effects of student IEPs, the textbook states, “it recognizes the rights of recipients, empowers them, and involves them in the process; it avoids treading on the professional discretion of teacher and potentially enhances their influence over placement decisions…”.

Even though my placement did not have what I considered to be adequate IEP goals, I do think that just having IEPs is beneficial to the school because it helps ensure that teachers are held responsible for the progress of diverse learners. At one point during my placement, 1 had the opportunity to work in the fifth grade general education classroom, The classroom has a sman board, which was rarely used One day, the teacher I was helping decided to use the smart board to present a lesson on the Abraham Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address The teacher has a very well thought»out PowerPoint presentation, however, it appeared that none of the students were engaged in the lesson. They did not appear to be interested in what the teacher had to say. I can relate my the scenario that occurred in the 5‘h grade classroom of the class goal: “students will incorporate technology skills in service of cooperative learning and problem solving.” I think that part of the reason that the students were not engaged was that they were never asked to interact with the teacher or their peers. Even after the presentation was presented, there was no opportunity for interaction.

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My Special Ed Placements: A Significant Teaching Experience. (2022, Jul 17). Retrieved from

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