I am beyond grateful for the MMFS PA’s support to further my studies so that I am better equipped to support our students. Although I have been a teacher for a number of years, I am new to special education. So I started an online graduate certificate program at Southern New Hampshire University in Dyslexia and Language Based Learning Disabilities. All of the instructors are also faculty at the Landmark School in Massachusetts, a well known special education school for students with dyslexia and language-based learning disabilities. For a busy teacher and mom, this program is a perfect fit—for my needs as well as for my students. It has been over 10 years since I was a student, and I was a little nervous about whether I would remember how to be a student again. But I have already been able to implement the strategies I learned to support my students.
I applied the PA grant money to my first class at SNHU: Executive Functioning and Study Skills. Many of the students at MMFS struggle with everyday tasks such as packing up or keeping track of their belongings. Research has shown that visual supports with step-by-step directions provide students with the help they need. One of the assignments was to design an intervention plan for students to stay organized. I created a simple checklist for students to hang in their lockers to ensure they have packed up all of their belongings as well as their homework folder at the end of the day. The checklist includes visuals so that it is clear what the students need to bring home. The most important and valuable part of the checklist is that the students are packing up independently.
When students are supported in areas that are challenging for them, in this case their executive functioning skills, they are ready for the rich material they are exposed to at MMFS. These challenges are no longer present as obstacles to achieving their full potential. Although my journey to supporting students with learning disabilities at MMFS has just begun, I am excited to be a part of making a difference in student’s lives so that they see themselves as competent and capable students.
Being a student again brings me back into the academic world, which gives me and the MMFS community access to the latest resources in the field. I am happy to share both my learning and resources with the larger community. In my courses we learned about Landmark’s Six Teaching Principles:
- Provide opportunities for success
- Use multi-sensory approaches to teach
- Use micro units and structured tasks for every student
- Ensure automization with practice and review
- Provide models for students to use as guides
- Include students in the process
I have learned that these principles are what make special education possible; they resonate with the work I do at MMFS. They are at the core of ensuring every student is successful and seen for who they are, and are supported in a way that brings them a sense of purpose, belonging and accomplishment.