Seeking Game-Changers

Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 10.28.07 PMThis morning Shelley Burgess asked on #SatchatWC (Saturday Morning Chat – West Coast) how we are game-changers, as well as who we look up to as game-changers. It was one of those conversations that re-inspires teaching. As I carefully worded my replies, I was becoming more conscious of how I speak about my students, putting their learning first, rather than just talking about what I do. Twitter chats are great practice for this. I was reminded that I not only look to these chats for encouragement, but also to learn how to challenge the status quo.

Conversations about being inspired educators and supporting public education are great, but as a special educator I also hunger for the opportunity to discuss the specific skill set that is required for teaching learners basic skills, like communication and activities of daily living (ADLs). There are specific laws and regulations that apply just to special education. There are different conversations we need to have with parents and things we need to know about the healthcare system. There’s a whole other world of acronyms.

Where is the community of teachers of learners with multiple disabilities?

My dilemma today is how can I be a game-changer if my professional community is not actively engaging on Twitter or other online platforms? I’ve found a handful of blogs and many Twitter handles advertising various Apps for autism, communication, and social stories. I am not finding actual special educators who are in the classroom, teaching students with significant disabilities. I find it hard to understand how the leadership of the special education’s professional organization, the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), is not active on Twitter. I also find it strange that I have come across very few professors of special education.

Working with students that make up a very small percentage of the total student population, less than 1% usually, can often leave teachers of students with multiple disabilities feeling isolated. I would think that many others would be looking online for opportunities to connect.

Anybody out there?

Please comment if you are!

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8 thoughts on “Seeking Game-Changers

  1. I hear you… It seems like there are chats about just about everything except working with students with low-incidence disabilities! I teach in a high school self-contained class and my students have a variety of low-incidence disabilities–all have significant needs.

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    • Courtney, great to hear from you! I’ve enjoyed your blog posts and also follow you on Twitter. I’m thinking the next step is to brain storm a low-incidence hashtag. I think its hard for us because we resist labeling, for good reasons, and we all wind up using different terms. NYC uses “multiple disabilities,” so I’ve embraced that, but my training was in “severe/ profound special needs education,” which I don’t like the sound of. And you reminded me of the term “low-incidence,” which I like, but often forget to us. Any hashtag suggestions?

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      • I thought about this for so long that i forgot to reply! My district also it multineeds… None of the labels seem to fit or they sound offensive. #LIDisabilities would work but most people probably wouldn’t know what it meant! #extraspecial came to mind but might be offensive…

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  2. Hi Beth,

    Good question! I rely on social media and online communities for new ideas and inspiration. Check out Paths to Literacy http://www.pathstoliteracy.org/ for ideas and conversations about learners with multiple disabilities and deafblindness. There are weekly blog posts, many of which are focused on ideas for students with multiple disabilities, such as these posts:
    Sensory Activities: http://www.pathstoliteracy.org/sensory-activities
    Making Writing Meaningful: http://www.pathstoliteracy.org/making-writing-meaningful
    The iPad and students with multiple disabilities: http://www.pathstoliteracy.org/ipad-students-visual-and-multiple-disabilities-making-it-easier-get-started

    There are also lots of ideas throughout the site: http://www.pathstoliteracy.org/multiple-disabilities

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  3. @adriennestuckey

    Hi Beth,
    I agree, there’s a real need for community for future and current special educators, and I resisted trying to begin a social media presence because of my belief that “my people aren’t online”. I think it’s time to start tracking them down (or recruiting them?). My background is “high-incidence disabilities,” so in addition to connecting with special educators, I see a need for community that includes the general educators that also serve these students in inclusive environments. And that combo is both unique (fairly rare) and hard to track down. Trying to woo general educators into that space with the special educators.

    I’ve had a similar dilemma for ‘what terms to search and what to use for hashtags’. I am using hootsuite to manage twitter and have several search streams that are working out ok…you might want to consider a tool like that. I have a stream searching special education, co-teaching, and coteaching…another searching universal design for learning, UDL, and differentiated instruction…and another searching teacher induction, pre-service teachers, and early-career teachers. So, I’m wondering if you can create some search streams that cluster around the instructional techniques that are research and evidence based for your population to help you find the tweets most relevant to your professional people. Then maybe have a bank of hashtags you pull from that are associated with intervention types or student characteristics and less the disability labels.

    I’ll be sure to send any your way if I think of them.

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  4. I absolutely love what you wrote here and couldn’t agree more. I’m actually a pre-service teacher finishing my degree in the spring and for one of my courses we’re creating a personal learning network. All to say, I’m fairly new to this virtual word of educators, but am quickly learning what a wonderful resource/tool it is to have teachers and educators in the field collaborating and sharing such thoughtful words of wisdom/insight with each other.

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  5. I’m excited to share that this is going to be the topic of #lidchat (Teaching Low-incidence disabilities Chat) tomorrow night, Thursday, November 20th at 9PM EST! Come and join us as we wrestle with how to create an online conversation and what to call ourselves.

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