Professional Development for Novice Special Education Teachers: 15 Effective Strategies for a Successful School Year. Dr. Jan Jones Wadsworth, Consultant in Special Education and Transition Dr. Nilsa J. Thorsos , Professor Special Education: Azusa Pacific University Dr. Eric Mendrano, Special Education Teacher and Adjunct: Azusa Pacific University
Agenda • Discuss Current issues :Teacher Attrition and Retention in the field of K-12 . • 6 Effective strategies for transition and self determination, effective parental involvement (Life after K-12) . • 6 Effective classroom management and educational strategies • 6 effective brain-based strategies to increase student engagement, memory, and motivation
Why Do Teachers Leave? • A Possible Dream: Retaining California Teachers So All Students Learn, Dr. Ken Futernick of the California State University’s Center for Teacher Quality finds that “critical problems in the teaching and learning environment are literally driving teachers from the classroom.”
Teacher Attrition: A Myth? • Too many teachers leave the profession prematurely. Too few remain teaching in our most challenging schools. • 22 percent of California teachers leave the profession after the first four years. • Ten percent of teachers in high poverty schools transfer to other schools each year
Special Education Teachers • are most likely to leave special education because of inadequate system supports as well as an all-too-often hostile teaching environment created by parents and student advocates. • too little time for the complex and constantly changing IEPs (Individualized Education Program) they are required to write. • Many leave because of dysfunctional professional relationships with their colleagues in general education.
Special v. General Education Teachers • Special education teachers are more likely than general education teachers to transfer to a different teaching position (Billingsly, 2003). • Vacancies in special education are ongoing each year forcing school districts to hire new unqualified teachers in place of a lost teacher (McLesky & Billingsly. 2008).
Demands under IDEA • Under IDEA, special education teachers that teach core academic subjects must be highly qualified by the end of the 2005 – 2006 academic school year. • To meet these requirements one must possess a full State certification as a special education teacher, or pass the State license examination of a special education teacher and carry a State license to teach as a specialized instructor (Wright & Wright, 2007).
Attrition • Attrition of special education teachers is increasing and she places these teachers in four categories. Special education teachers will return to their position, transfer to a different special education teaching assignment, transfer to a general education teaching assignment, or carry a non-teaching position (Billingsly, 2003).
Attrition • In a similar study from the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS), Boe, Cook, and Sunderland (2008) found that at the end of the 1999 – 2000 school year the attrition of special education teachers was greatest in exit attrition, or having a new career away from education. As high as 9.3% of special education teachers will leave their position after their first year of teaching (Sach, 1999) and would leave teaching 2.5 times higher than general education teachers (Smith & Ingersoll, 2004).
Special Education Attrition • Regardless of the attempts to train special education teachers, four out of ten special education teachers leave their position in the first five years of teaching (Kozleski, Mainzer, & Deshler, 2000). • These teachers leave their positions due to several reasons including isolation from their colleagues and poor special education teacher preparedness programs (Billingsly, 2003).
Assess and address specific challenges in retention of special education teachers: Many factors responsible for special education teachers leaving or staying are the same for teachers working in general education classrooms. However, there are school conditions that are uniquely problematic for special education teachers that must be addressed.
Problems in the Working Environment are Driving Teachers from the Profession • Twenty-two percent of new teachers in California leave the profession within their first four years (The Public Policy Institute of California) • Dissatisfied teachers who left the profession cited serious problems with their working environment ( Futernick). • More than half of these teachers expressed concerns over inadequate supports, such as a lack of time for planning or professional development, and bureaucratic impediments such as classroom interruptions, unnecessary meetings, and too little say over the way their schools are run. • Teachers also pointed frequently to a lack of collegiality as a key reason for leaving the classroom or transferring to another school. • Bureaucratic impediment was the factor cited most frequently by dissatisfied teachers as a reason for leaving (57%). • Excessive paperwork, too many meetings, and frequent classroom interruptions. One teacher said, “I feel as though I teach between the interruptions.” • Teachers also expressed concern with the emphasis on standardized testing and heightened calls for accountability that place further constraints on teaching. • One in four dissatisfied teachers leaving the profession said that an overly scripted and narrow curriculum contributed to their decision to leave.
A Lack of Support • Fifty-two percent of dissatisfied teachers cited poor administrative support as a reason for leaving the profession. • These teachers pointed to basic problems such as poor hiring procedures and unresponsive payroll departments, as well as to more complex problems such as inadequate professional development as reasons for leaving. • Forty-two percent cited a lack of resources such as not enough textbooks, inadequate technology and a lack of basic supplies.
Cultivate better collegial supports for Special Educators • Great progress has been made in integrating special education students into general education programs. • The findings from the retention survey suggest that far less progress has been made to fully integrate special education teachers with their general education colleagues. • Special educators often feel isolated and ignored, and many find themselves at odds with school principals and their general education colleagues when advocating for their special education students. • This aspect of special education is a significant contributor to the high turnover rate among special educators.
6 Effective strategies for transition and self determination, effective parental involvement • Know the specific disability’s characteristics. • Collaboration • Parent Involvement • Self Advocacy • IEP/ITP Goals • Expectations/ Outcomes
6 Effective classroom management and educational strategies • Understanding Classroom Behavior Implementations • Assessing and Creating Individual behavior systems • Effective Environment for the unique needs of students • Learning Centers • Lesson Presentations • Ongoing Motivation and Encouragement for students with disabilities
Understanding Classroom Behavior Implementations • Systematic approach to positively reinforce general rules for ALL students. • Must be used throughout the day • Ongoing • Objective is to encourage positive/wanted behaviors for all students.
Assessing and Creating Individual behavior systems • Informal assessments for all students • Must find the unique reinforcements of students
Effective Environment for the unique needs of students • Students learn differently • Ongoing assessing of classroom environment • Communication with all members of the multidisciplinary team to understand student interest, learning styles, and behavior
Learning Centers • Modify and accommodate assignments • Timed stations • Opportunities for direct instruction • Reward based instruction
Lesson Presentations • Clear objective and expectations • Visual schedule • Enlarged print • Beginning/End • Overplanning Lessons • Activate student interest
Ongoing Motivation and Encouragement for students with disabilities • Students need to be positively reinforced throughout the day. • “Good Job” • High fives • Thumbs up • Find at least one thing a student has completed and encourage
6 effective brain-based strategies to increase student engagement, memory, and motivation Adapted from: Judy Willis, MD, M.Ed www.RADteach.com
R.A.D. R IS THE RETICULAR ACTIVATING SYSTEM A IS THE AMYGDALA D IS DOPAMINE
BECAUSE YOU KNOW MOST OF THESE brain-based STRATEGIES ALREADY, YOU WILL WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER
RETICULAR ACTIVATING SYSTEM (RAS) All information enters the brain through the senses. All sensory input must pass through the RAS filter to enter the higher brain RAS directs attention RAS determine where input goes: reactiveor reflective brain
ADHD is not necessarily an attention disorder RAS less filtering so unproductive input impairs focusing on “important” input
Survival First - React with Fight/Flight/Freeze If survival needs are met and stress is downthe RAS conducts information into the Reflective brain
RAS Interventions • stabilityanD familiarity • THEN you can stimulate curiosity with change, novelty, and surprise!
Stability and familiarity through repeated experiences Songs Routines Jobs Quiet zone Consistent enforcement
Create a non-threatening climate with low stress, then captivate the RAS with brain-research based strategies such as a.............. ...........................................................................................................
.......... Suspenseful Pause • To build curiosity and captivate RAS attention
Strategies that influence RAS information intake and flow
Surprise! discrepant events Prior knowledge activation Advertising Color Costumes-Music Movement
Start Class With Surprising New Information • Novelty and Memory • Test subjects viewed a variety of photographs • Participants then given series of words to sort according to meaning. • The next day one group viewed new images and the control group viewed the familiar ones. • They were all then asked to recall as many words from the previous day’s list as they could. • Recall was significantly better in the group that had just viewed new images. • (Fenker, D. and Schultz, H.)