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Kaylee Clark

Context of Learning
September 4, 2014
Student Teaching Placement 1
I am currently student teaching at Lynnville Sully in a Special Education
classroom. My cooperating teaching is Mallory Kjar who has been teaching for four
years. It has been a really great opportunity, and I have learned so much already.
We have 20 students total in our classroom throughout the day. All of them have
academic goals on their IEP. Nineteen students are level one students and one
student is level three.
Working one on one with the level three student has been very eye opening.
Although he just has an academic IEP goal, he still has behaviors during instruction.
From talking with Mallory I have learned that these behaviors are out of frustration.
The level three student is in first grade and has limited speech. It is hard for him to
communicate so he gets frustrated and starts to hit and put his head down. He has a
rare chromosomal disability that the doctors do not know a lot about. From this
information, the teachers and parents do not know his full academic ability, so they
form instruction to his needs but also close to first grade core. This information
about this student will definitely impact my teaching. My first instinct would be to
take it easy on this student because he does get so frustrated and tasks are a lot
harder for him than other students. From observing other teachers with him I have
learned that that is not the right thing to do. He needs pushed to show his ability.
Every time he is in the classroom he shows a new skill that the teachers did not

know he had. I will continue to work on his speech while instructing him on reading
and math so that that can continue to improve, and hopefully that will lower his
frustration during instruction.
The other nineteen students are level one. Mallory explained to me that with
each student they try to decide if they are struggling on the skill or if its based on
performance. When students are struggling on performance that means they are
getting distracted and cannot concentrate. If students are struggling with a skill that
means they do not understand the concept. I am still learning this about the
students. It will definitely alter my teaching once I figure it out. Students that are
struggling with performance will need more prompts and one on one attention,
while students struggling with skill will need more instruction on content and my
instruction will be based on pre-teaching and re-teaching.
The total enrollment for K-12 at Lynnville Sully is 491. From those 491
students there are only 17 students that are any race other than Caucasian. That is
only 3.5% of the school. This is a really small percentage of the school. This means
that the students in my class do not have much access to diversity and learning
about other cultures during school hours. This is hard to work on in a special
education setting. We only work on math and reading with students for short
amounts of time. During my reading groups I will try to consciously pick stories that
talk about people of other cultures or about other parts of the world. This will be a
way to start discussion about diversity and other cultures.
Eighteen percent of the schools population is on free or reduced lunch. That
totals to 89 students out of 500. This is a pretty large percentage. Also, six percent

of the schools population lives in poverty. That is 33 students out of 500. This will
be something I keep in the back of my mind when I am teaching. Some of my
students probably do not get a lot of help at home because their parents are working
a lot to provide for their families. This may be one factor of many for why they need
help in the special education setting. Hopefully this time spent in the special
education classroom will give them the extra help they need to succeed in their
general education classroom. This may also explain the reason for some homework
not getting done at home. Although the student is responsible for getting the
homework done, it may be hard at home for them to do it, especially if they need
help with it. So, when a student comes to school without it done, rather than getting
angry, I will sit down with the students and talk about why it did not get done. If it
is a reoccurring thing, I will sit down with the student and come up with a plan to
help them get the homework done. One statistic that kind of surprised me is that at
the Lynnville Sully schools there are not any ELL students. They did have one last
year but that student left.
Being in a special education classroom full time has been very eye opening.
Learning about the vast cognitive diversity has been difficult, but fun. In every
classroom teachers are going to have students that learn in different ways but I feel
that that is even more evident in a special education classroom. I have been finding
that most the time it isnt that the students dont have the ability to learn, they just
need to learn the skills in a different way, and in a different setting. I like working in
small group settings because instruction can be more personalized. Mallory has
taught me that to be a special education teacher you need to be very flexible. It is

helpful to write a lesson plan but it is almost always going to change. It is hard to
know what skills they are not going to understand, or what skills you think they
might struggle with and then they fly through. Teachers need to be prepared for
both situations.
I have been having a great time in Mallorys classroom. I have already
learned so much and am looking forward to teaching full time. The students are so
fun to work with, and I learn something new about them everyday!