Special Education Interview
South East High School
1. How long have you been teaching special needs children?
This is Mrs. Feyes 3rd year teaching special needs.
2. What made you choose the teaching profession and, in particular, teaching special needs children?
Mrs. Feyes explained how she has always loved children, and that at age sixteen she taught swimming lessons to younger children. She described how teaching special needs children became an "accident." Her husband moved around a lot because of his job and so even though she wanted to teach she was never in one place enough to get her degree and go into teaching. A few years ago they decided to stay in Kansas long term and she went back to school to get her bachelors and was offered the job at South East. She decided to work on her Masters degree so she could teach special education and is currently taking classes.
3. How have your ideas toward teaching changed with each passing year of experience?
Can you recall your ideas about teaching when you were a teacher education student like me? What were they? What are they now?
Mrs. Feyes described how she grew up in Catholic Schools, which I found I could relate to because I myself went to a Catholic girls school. She described how back then you did as you were told, the rules were never bent and that you knew what was expected and what was appropriate behavior without being told. Nowadays, she believes that schools are different, especially public schools. There are certain levels of behavior that she has to deal with on a daily basis and she has to adapt her teaching styles and change her outlook on how children are supposed to act. She said she hopes to make a difference.
4. How does teaching students with special needs differ from teaching other children? What are some challenges you face in teaching special needs children? What are some rewards in teaching special needs children?
Mrs. Feyes talked about how special education has a variety of behaviors, diagnosis', characteristics and accommodations. This makes it very challenging for the special education teacher because you could have ten children in your class with ten different needs. You also have to take time to look at all the IEP's and to adapt each lesson to reach each child. She talked about the biggest reward being when she see's "the light bulbs going off." What she meant by this is that when her children grasp a concept or get a good grade on a paper she feels like she has done her job and that when she sees a child with a smile on her face because they got a good grade on a paper she feels like she is making a difference.
5. What advice can you give me for teaching children with special needs in the regular education classroom?
Mrs. Feyes advised me to reach out to the Para educator and the special education teacher because these will be your most valuable resources. They can give you ideas and you can collaborate and ask questions like "Is this going to work?" It is also important to connect with these teachers because they can give you feedback just by asking them if the child understood what was being taught. If they did great, but if they didn't you can modify you lesson plan or way of teaching to better reach that child.
6. What changes, if any, would you make to the education system with regard to special needs children? Consider such aspects such as inclusion, funding, state assessments, etc...
Mrs. Feyes started off by saying she feels technology in the classroom needs to be better and that she feels more funding needs to go toward that. She especially feels that way in regards to special education because some students have physical problems and special laptops for these students would be helpful. She also mentioned some families can not afford certain things and that students need to be learning more about technology. She also spoke about inclusion and how it is a good thing but it shouldn't be about making the school look good because they have inclusion and it certainly should not be about percentages. It is only a good thing if the children being included in your classroom are benefiting from inclusion.
7. If you could choose another career field, would you? Please explain your answer in detail.
Mrs. Feyes straight away said no. She believes this is the career and the path that God chose for her, and she is so happy where she is at. She is close to being able to retire but she has no intentions of doing so. She loves going to work early and she never has a problem staying late because this is her calling in life.
8. Are they any closing comments you wish to add to this close this interview?
Special education is a special and rewarding field and she encouraged me to think about teaching in this area. She also mentioned she is happy to help me with any future projects.