What are you talking about Carla?!! I’m talking about doing your own Public Relations for your classroom. I’m talking about creating or enhancing your own style and basically educating the people in your building and school district that it’s a NEW DAY in special education!
Has anyone ever asked you the question, “What do you do down there in your room?” or have people said to you, “I don’t know exactly what it is that you do”, or have they asked, “How do you teach those students?” Educators in special education get this more often than we’d like. We all do/have done a lot of pull out services so those services are a mystery to many.
Let’s get real for a minute. If you just keep your head down and work really hard (which, I’m sure you are already doing!) everything will be fine. Maybe yes, or maybe you’ll have a whole lot of people wondering what you’re doing and a whole lot of people who don’t see the incredible progress you make with your students.
Just this week, I had two teachers approach me about a problem they were having with the general education staff. One teacher instructs students in a resource class and the other teaches students with emotional disorders. The problem was that the general education staff in their school didn’t fully understand what these teachers do because they don’t SEE what they do.
The gen ed teachers were sending a large group of students to the special education classroom for “extra help”. What they didn’t understand was that students in the resource room are there working in small groups or in a one on one direct instruction situation using, in some cases, scripted programs along with learning environments that are specifically outlined in their IEPs. Basically the special education teachers would not be able to follow the IEPs and give “extra help” to additional students who doubled or tripled the number of students in the room!
As I said before, there was a lack of understanding on the part of the general education teachers. The solution? Brand your classroom! Create a systematic way to communicate with the school staff what you and your program are all about. Use photos, videos, work samples, program scope and sequence, class visits, observations, etc to educate staff about your Brand of classroom.
Start your campaign! Let others learn about your amazing reading and math programs. Let them see your student’s written work and science experiments. Show off social skills and communication systems. Share some strategies that work great outside the special education classroom too. General education teachers would be stunned if they knew all of the strategies they could be using in their classrooms that would make their lives easier!
Come up with a class logo, a mission statement and ways to help the rest of the school. One high school classroom started a coffee program at their school. The students took coffee orders and handled the money, ordering, stocking etc. The staff at the school began to look forward to the new service and could see student progress in social and business skills!
One idea you can use to let both staff and parents see weekly classroom activities is in a scrapbook and music format via SMILEBOX. It’s a free program that allows you to upload your pictures in a 4 or 5 page “scrapbook” that you can then send via e-mail. Pictures speak volumes and communication clears up misunderstandings. Go to www.Smilebox.com, set up your account and get started!
Brand your classroom and you’ll take away the questions and concerns about the value of your program and the need to ask, “What do you do down there with those kids?” Brand your classroom and people will start bragging, “Have you seen our special education classrooms? They’re doing amazing things with our students!”
Start your campaign and reap the results! If you like this Blog, share it with your friends or make a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!