Course Reflection Letter
Introduction to Special Education - Spring 2015
1. Did the course meet your expectations?
This course did introduce a number of the diverse needs that special education students can have, as I expected. This course also informed me how wide ranging the definition of special needs students can be and how in-depth assessing and developing their learning strategy can be.
2. Did you meet your own expectations of yourself?
I did learn strategies to recognize and assess students that have special education needs and how important it is to be able to work in cooperation with the families of these special needs students and with other professionals that work with these challenged learners. I made the effort to expose myself to as many special needs students that I could. I was able to work in small groups with learning disorder students, behavioral and emotional disorder students, and one-on-one with an autistic student. I meet a student that was physically disabled, I taught in the class were one student spoke no English, and I interviewed a gifted education instructor. I do feel like I fell short of learning more about the protocol and procedures that relate to a special needs students' learning environment, it seems like there is very much to still be educated on in this area.
3. How did you grow?
I am still nervous about being able to effectively manage all the responsibilities that today's teachers have, especially of being overwhelmed by the number of programs, services, mandates, protocols, procedures and laws that are applicable in the classroom concerning students of all abilities, however this course has made me more confident in understanding the limitations special needs students can have and the effort it takes to provide a positive learning environment for them. I feel like I have developed a new level empathy for special needs learners and better appreciate the challenges they face while trying to learn.
4. What did you learn?
The learning environment of special needs student is so dynamic and such a community effort. I think what has stuck with me most is how important it is to have a support network in place to assist the special needs learner and their family, their instructors, their peers, and their neighbors. Educating all those that interact with a special needs learner and providing each other with support benefits that student, as well as helping others manage the responsibility and potential stress that can overwhelm an individual working with a special needs learner.
5. What learning experiences will you "take with you" as a future teacher?
I think what has been impacted on me and I will remember as a future teacher is the importance of being able to identify and connect with a special needs learner. Working through the ILP and developing strategies, methods and assessments for a learner emphasized how personalized a students learning plan needs to be. This course really reveals that special needs learners are individuals and not just a body that is categorized under a particular label or disorder. Working with and observing the students that I did helped me understand how connecting with a student (asking questions and listening), exercising patience, and being flexible and creative goes a very long way in enhancing the relationship you develop with a special needs learner.
6. What did you think of the course, the teacher, the students, the assignments, etc...??
I enjoyed the course very much. I like the we were encouraged and required to use multiple technology tools to complete assignments. I discovered tools that I really like using that I didn't originally know about. It was a fun way to review classmates work as well. I appreciate the teachers feedback, these comments furthered my learning and impacted what I took way from the course.
7. What changes would you make, if any?
I would have liked to have at least one face-to-face visit with my instructor and classmates in this course, maybe like a "wrap-up session", in order to share our experiences with each other and learn what others discovered during their field work.