Exploring and reflecting on meaningful pathways to inclusive and personalized learning and living for students with complex developmental needs because education should prepare all students for a lifetime of inclusion, connection, growth and learning.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Defining the Purpose of this Blog

I thought I would take a minute to define the reason I started a blog.  I'm relatively new to teaching this population as I am only heading in to my 4th year doing it although I am heading in to my 18th year of teaching all together.  I spent the first 14 years of my career in two different middle/high schools teaching mostly mathematics although I did teach an experiential education class for a couple years in there as well as a whole host of other side subjects including language arts, accounting, computers, social studies, science, physical education, drama, wood working...etc.  You name it, I've probably taught it somewhere along the way as I worked in small schools and we just had to pick up the slack sometimes.  I really enjoyed it but as time went on, I was craving something different.  I then was asked to sit on an adaptive technology pannel for our school division as a parent and quickly found my new passion.  When this job came up in the division that I was working in, I decided to throw an application in even though I did not have any formal training in special education.  This is how I landed in the job.  The past three years have brought with them a huge learning curve as I have established my sea legs on what was initial a very rocky boat as it is a huge career change.

I continue to learn and grow all the time and really enjoy the creativity of making my own materials for this job.  I also enjoy the freedom of not being so tied to the curriculum (although parts of it ar always in my head) and moving forward with things that are of direct benefit to the individuals in my classroom.  I was surprised to also find that I liked moving away from the solitude of being a single teacher to having other adults in the classroom.  And so as I continue to learn, I decided that its time to start recording and defining some my thoughts and my I immediatley thought about keeping a professional blog.  Then the idea grew a bit and I thought perhaps I could also use a blog as a type of plan book and a place to post materials that I've produced.

So I started writing the odd post here and there and have decided since that I will be using this blog as my professional growth plan this year (we are required to have one in th province I live in).  With that, I came to define the function of this blog and here it is:
  • To respond and clarify my thoughts on what is happening in special education.  We are currently in the middle of what could be a big change to special education here in our province and I wanted somewhere to write about this.  I come at this from both the perspective of a teacher and a parent as I have a 10 year old son with Down syndrome as well so will probably cross over in to sharing my views on a personal level as well sometimes. 
  • To better define the program that we have.  Now that I've established my footing and we are starting to move along in a pretty good flow, I feel like its time to dig deeper in to the hows and whys and break it all down a bit more.  I find that I personally come to clarity through wirting so this is why a blog seemed an approapriate medium to do this.
  • A place to record plans for what we are going to do in our classroom including programming activities, news-2-you topics, transition portfolios, and modifications/expansions, our year long religion project, group work we will be doing...etc.  Because its a public long range plan, it will encourage me to really define the plan and once a plan is defined it is so much easier to make happen :).
  • A place to share materials that I'm producing along the way.  I know the time commitment involved in making materials for our population and would just love to know that the time I put in is going to help not only my students but others as well.  I also find that when I see other people's materials, I can either use them or it sparks and idea as to how I can make it work for one or more of my students.  Perhaps I can begin to return some of what I've learned from other's materials.
  • To share materials/programs/ideas that I either find or somehow grow in me that I have used or would like to use in the future.   
  • To reflect on the things that I'm doing in my classroom.  There are obvious benefits to taking the time to do this.  Reflecting may bring me to any of the purposes defined above or it may just be a celebration.
Through the remainder of my summer (only a couple more weeks), you will see me defining how the standard curriculum fits in to what I'm doing in my classroom along with posting some of the things that I would like to try and/or purchase in years to come.  I will also be writing some of my responses to Alberta Learnings Setting the Direction Framework document that came out in June of this year.  Finally I will be sharing materials related to our first news-2-you topic (Super Sand Castles), our first couple of weeks of religion class and any other plans or materials that I'm producing as we head in to the new year.   

I welcome people's feedback on this blog.  If there is something I post about that you can expand on or need clarification on, please post as it only helps me grow as a teacher :).

Now... here is to a great 2009-10 school year!
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