Educating Felicity & Friends
In the Education section, I demonstrate how I have developed annual goals for Felicity and then selected and designed activities to target those annual goals. As a special education teacher, I have collaborated with others to develop Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) as a member of Planning and Placement Teams (PPT). A Planning and Placement Team is comprised of an administrator, special education teacher, regular education teacher, pupil personnel representative (school psychologist, school counselor, social worker, and/or speech/language pathologist), parents, and the student if appropriate. Other professionals may also be members of the PPT, such as an occupational therapist, physical therapist, behavior analyst, and/or other professionals involved in the student's education. Parents are free to invite anyone to a PPT meetings who can contribute to the decision-making process regarding their child's education. A Planning and Placement Team meets to determine eligibility for special education services, to develop IEPs, and to discuss and review evaluations.
In designing Individualized Education Programs for students, annual goals are developed based on the student's individual needs. In the Education section, I share with you the annual goals I developed for Felicity when she was Age 2, Age 3, and Age 4 and Age 5. On the Videos page, you can watch Felicity engaged in the learning process during teaching sessions in which these goals were targeted through a variety of different activities.
Please note that Felicity's goals are individualized. In sharing Felicity's annual goals and the videos of our teaching sessions, I want to demonstrate how goals are developed and then targeted through a variety of fun and creative activities. I am in no way suggesting that the goals I developed for Felicity are appropriate goals for all children with Down syndrome and/or other special needs. There are some similarities in the ways in which children with special needs learn; however, there are many differences as well. A specific strategy that works for one child may not work for another. I am simply trying to share teaching techniques and activities that have proved successful for me over time, but as an educator, I will always be in the process of learning.
One thing to note is the scaffolding of goals from one year to the next. You can notice that some of Felicity's goals are the same at age 3 and age 4; however, the "target set" differs from one year to the next. For example, when she was 3 years old, Felicity was learning to identify numbers 1-10 and as a 4-year-old, she was learning to identify numbers 11-20. She learned several sight words as a 3-year-old. As a 4-year-old, she continued to review the sight words she learned when she was 3 years old, reading them in simple sentences while simultaneously learning new sight words.
All of this may seem daunting, but the most important thing I am learning over time is that there is no "right" way to educate a child with special needs. It is a process. I often feel like a GPS...I am constantly "re-calculating". I have learned a tremendous amount in collaborating with other highly-skilled and dedicated professionals intent on helping students make progress as they learn to navigate our complex world. I have also learned invaluable lessons in my interactions with the parents of children with special needs. Ultimately, I try to remember to have fun, enjoy my work with my students, and keep my heart open so I can learn all that they have to teach me.