At the beginning of the induction program I really wanted to focus on being able to apply real world experiences to the classroom. I wanted to become a better facilitator who could use emotional learning to ignite critical thinking skills in my students. This goal at first was marred by the sheer reality that I could not identify with my student's life experiences. I have never known anyone in prison until now and many of them have been so far removed from society and school that they were not familiar with recent significant world events. This posed a difficult barrier.
Eventually I came to the conclusion that I did not have to fully understand their prison experience in order to teach them. As a matter of fact, I soon discovered that many of the students were more concerned about "self-perceived learning disabilities" than about relating to the outside world. More than half of the students I worked with could identify with me because I was a special education teacher. Many had given up on school because they perceived themselves as not being able to retain information or read. Slowly we had to start from the beginning while another proportion of students were at grade level or beyond but yet hadn't completed their high school diploma as a result of criminal activity and poverty. This question of balancing and tailoring lessons for students of all levels then became my biggest hurdle. Differentiating instruction and using other UDL strategies in the modules helped me understand how to do this although I still continue to struggle.
On a professional level, one of the biggest goals I have set for myself was to continue differentiating instruction and also using appropriate assessments to measure learning. Many of my students would remain quiet after some of my lessons and I had a hard time discerning if they were being quiet because they were enjoying the material or if they were being quiet because they didn't understand. In the future I plan on working to improve this area of my instruction. I think the best way to continue improving in this area is by using many of the helpful curated resources in the CTI website and also keeping in direct communication with more teachers. In order to measure my own goal attainment on my part I plan on reassessing my own lessons on a daily basis. For example, after a lesson I will create a rubric and self reflective anecdotal notes. In this journal I will be able to correct my mistakes in the future.
I feel like the use of technology is going to be my strength in the future. I feel like technology allows for more hands on projects which keep student's attention and allows me to be more organized. I am very interested in creating websites and powerpoints which will allow me to create a central hub for student interaction. Personally and professionally I will be able to sustain my energy and passion by constantly reassessing my lessons.
The one piece of advise I would give new teachers entering the profession is always take a moment to take care of your mental and physical well-being. The importance of self- care in the future will prevent you from extinguishing your passion. Working with special education and general education children or adults can be draining at times and it can be easy to burn out! Always remain positive and don't ever give up. Positive thinking attracts like-mindedness. In the long corridors of our program there lies a famous qoute
"She believed she could so she did."