Wednesday, May 11, 2011
I am a Special Ed Teacher (read communication facilitator)
Special Education teachers have many hats - we are inclusion facilitators, behavior modifiers, aide trainers, academic advisors, and the list goes on. One hat that I think is often overlooked in many cases is: communication facilitator. Seems like a strange thought? Aren't there speech language pathologists for that kind of stuff? And while I am the first to admit that SLP's are wonderful, highly trained professionals, they are not always there. It's not their fault, they have caseloads, they have other students in the school to work with, they are not in the classroom with me everyday, all day (although that would be awesome!).
So, I've come to find that one of my main hats is being a communication facilitator. I'm responsible for making sure that child gets 30 trials of PECS during the day, moving a lunch box, or hiding a favorite toy. It's my job to make sure the instructional assistants understand that I'm waiting for a response (they don't need help yet!) or the frustration you see is actually learning and it gets better! It's my responsibility to figure out what is that child trying to say with that outburst and can I use it productively. I do all of this in collaboration with an SLP, but I am on the front line.
I am not there to quiet a child trying to express them self, I am there to help them understand there is a better time for it. I am not there to quash all communication except what I understand, I am there to figure out what it means. I am not there to silence students, I am there to facilitate their expression. I am a special education teacher, and I am proud to call myself a communication facilitator.
Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons - Rishi Menon
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