Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Teacher Feature – Kristin Mitchell

This week, our teacher feature shines the spotlight on Kristin Mitchell. I met her years ago in a Furman course and was very impressed with her teaching. Please join me in learning more about Kristin and applauding her hard work!

1.     What is your official title(s) and what services do you provide?

·      Special Education Teacher, M.Ed. I teach the 3-4 year old classroom along with two teaching assistants. Each child receives individual (based on IEP goals), small group, and whole group instruction in the classroom. Areas addressed include; academic, adaptive, fine motor, gross motor and social/emotional skills.

2.     Would you describe your school setting?

·      The Meyer Center is a Greenville County Charter School & non-profit organization that was founded by Dr. Leslie Meyer in 1954. Well before IDEA!  We are a separate school setting that serves preschool children with various disabilities. Along with education, we provide intensive therapy based on a medical model that includes physical, speech, and occupational therapy. Students also receive pet & music therapy weekly.

3.     How long have you been teaching?

·      This is my 6th year teaching.

4.     What ages/grades/subject did you teach prior to this current assignment?

·      I have taught the 3-4 year old classroom at the Meyer Center since I began my teaching career.

5.     What inspired you to become a teacher?

·      My son was born with special needs and disabilities. I watched him thrive and progress at the Meyer Center so that was my inspiration to become a special education teacher.

6.     What is the best thing that a student has ever said to you?

·      I definitely can’t pick just one! Many of our children are non-verbal. So, anytime a student signs, makes a sound or word approximation, uses an augmentative communication device to communicate, or speaks their first words is exciting.

7.     What do you feel is the most difficult thing about teaching?

·      I find that the beginning of the school year can be challenging. In order for students to learn and be engaged, we must first build a classroom community. Positive Discipline in the Classroom: Developing Mutual Respect, Cooperation, and Responsibility in Your Classroom by Jane Nelsen, Ed.D., Lynn Lott, M.A., and H. Stephen Glenn, Ph.D. is a great resource to use in preparation for a new school year.

8.     What do you feel is the best thing about teaching?

·      The best thing about teaching is watching my students develop and progress throughout the year.

9.     What piece of advice would you give to a new teacher just starting out in their career?

·      Be flexible! Sometimes, the most well thought-out and prepared lesson plan/activity, may not go as planned. Meet your students where they are at and monitor and adjust accordingly.

10.  If money was no object, what would you want for your school to help the students you serve be more successful?

·      Access to more augmentative communication devices and an adaptive P.E. program.

11.  “Inclusion Works!”

·       Our school is starting a Pilot Program for the 2017-2018 school year called Inclusion Works! We will be adding typical developing peers to two of our classrooms. The two classrooms will consist of approximately 50 percent typical peers and 50 percent current Meyer Center Students.  We are very excited about this new program. Research indicates that there are many benefits to inclusion for all students in the early childhood setting. Students with special needs benefit in that they have peer models for academic, social, and behavioral skills. Additionally, students also show an increase in achievement of IEP goals and enhanced skill acquisition and generalization.  The benefits of inclusion for typical peers include; increased appreciation and acceptance of individual differences and diversity, opportunities to master activities by practicing and teaching others, meaningful friendships, and greater academic outcomes.

Thank you Kristin for the wonderful interview! I enjoyed learning more about you and seeing all the great things that are happening at your school.

(Readers: If you know of any teacher that deserves to have a light shine on them, please send me their contact information. Thanks!)

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