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Counting Down from Five: Answers and Questions for Starting Special Education Teachers

Author: Samantha Goldman;

In our latest webinar “Ctrl+Esc: What’s the Technology Start Menu for Special Educators” , CIDDL Co Project Investigator Dr. Tara Courchaine facilitates a conversation with three state and district leaders regarding both what special educators should know about technology as it relates to their future classrooms, and what questions they should ask their school sites to ensure they are a good match. Our panel includes Jacqui Kelleher, the State Special Education Director for the Vermont Agency of Education, Maggie Pickett,  a Senior Technical Assistance Specialist at CAST currently working on the Center on Inclusive Technology & Education Systems (CITES) and the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials, and Annie Lamberto, the Special Populations Program Coordinator at the Washington Education Association (WEA).  

5 Questions Your Pre-Service Teachers Should be Prepared to Answer for Future Interviews

  1. How can I use technology to effectively manage and document, keeping in mind aspects of confidentiality? 
  2. How do I design the district/ school’s platforms to meet the needs of my learners?
  3. How do I support students using technology through accommodations and modifications, apps, and specific elements of the Individual Education Plan (IEP), like the Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) and Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)?
  4. How can I use technology to progress monitor, collect data, and represent data in a way that it can be shared with other members of the IEP team including service providers and families?
  5. How can I ensure  my communication meets the needs of my families, learners, and teams?

4 Questions Your Pre-Service Teachers Should be Prepared to Ask Future Interviewers

  1. What tools does your school communicate within teams, within the site, and with families?
  2. What are the action steps and trainings that staff and families need to understand the technology necessary for the student and who do I go to for help with that process?
  3. What are the basic tools every classroom should have with regards to technology?
  4. What supports are provided to everyone?

3 Questions Your Pre-Service Teachers Should be Prepared to Answer for Their Future Selves

  1. What is my foundational belief of education and how does that impact how I run my classroom?
  2. How are you structuring the environment so students learn to rely on each other?
  3. How am I giving myself permission to take risks, fail, and be vulnerable?

2 Big Takeaways

Our panelists shared so much wisdom in this webinar both at a macro- and micro- level. They provide practical questions, tips, and tricks for new teachers to take into the classroom with regards to technology. Beyond this, they offer two main takeaways that should be shared with new teachers. First, Annie points out that new teachers (and seasoned teachers) understand they cannot do it all, and that is completely okay. Second, give teachers permission to talk about new things in a way that honors where we’ve been and moves us forward.

1 Action Step

Head over to our community and continue this conversation by sharing what questions you make sure your pre-service teachers can answer and ask?