Talking teaching students with Low-incidence disabilities and avoiding feeling isolated by connecting on social media, check out the Storify:
This 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!
We are a very big school district in New York City, so it’s hard to feel connected to all teachers across the city. When we do connect it’s often around the feeling of being a little fish in a big pond and the policies unilaterally passed down that make us feel that way. I’m excited to get to know more of my NYC colleagues via Twitter and through blogging. There is an opportunity here to break outside of the traditional, large-scale meetings that districts typically send two or three teacher representatives to. (In NYC, our district is broken into regional districts and various support networks.)
What surprises me is that in a city with 88,000 teachers, I have only encountered a handful who are on Twitter for professional purposes. I often find myself scratching my head, asking, “where is everybody?” At the same time, I appreciate the intimacy of those who do tweet in NYC, there’s a level of trust and sincerity between teachers who really want to learn, see their students succeed and watch the city they love improve along with its children.
I hope that NYC only gets better as more educators join Twitter. But I have to admit I’m nervous, as we grow, can I be sure conversations will be kept collegial? I see some of the vitrol on Facebook and I’m glad that more pessimistic teachers don’t take the time to learn how to tweet. I’ve seen how easy it is for NYC teachers to blast the city, students, families and the UFT rudely via Facebook. It only makes teachers look negative and unprofessional to outsiders. I have heard enough unconstructive conversations during work hours from those who have been at it too long or those who didn’t research what they were getting into; I don’t need to hear it after work too.
I’ve taught in District 75, the city’s special education district, for several years now and my favorite part of professional development outside of my school is talking to other educators. I simply love hearing how other schools with similar populations and resources do it. I’m excited to build a network where we can continue these discussions outside of school, on our own terms as teachers.
So who’s in? Are you an NYC teacher ready to jump into Twitter?
Here’s a few tips to get started: