Thursday, December 16, 2010

SEIT 1:1 Games

Here are a list of educational games that I've found most useful so far:

1 & 2 Thinkfun Zingo (Classic & 1-2-3)
I've used this in my SEIT sessions, either 1:1 or pulling an extra friend in to the session with my student. The whole premise is based on matching, which many special education students love to do and can do easily. The Classic version is great for encouraging vocabulary growth and recognition of common objects. You can also use the chips for categorization and letter search.
The Zingo 1-2-3 is for more advanced counters. It promotes numeral to quantity matching. Tip: If your student has a low frustration tolerance, working on one board might be more useful than playing it in the game setting. That way, you can work on one board together while still using the fun Zingo slider.
Both games promote turn taking. If your student has a hard time taking turns, I've found it useful to have a "marker", using a counting bear, dice, etc to indicate who's turn it is.

3. Travel Guess Who -
Game may be difficult for many preschool special needs students to play by the game rules. However, I've used the pictures and cards to promote descriptive speech, categorization, visual discrimination and fine motor skills. They really love to flip down the pictures.

4. Travel Connect 4 -
This game can be used in 1:1 sessions for patterning, colors, counting. I've pulled in other students to play the game version during 1:1 sessions.

5. Activity Work Book
A new spin on handwriting. Most books will have alphabet and number pages. Many of the themed books will have pages that target toward visual discrimination skills, patterning, and matching.

6. Candyland Bingo
Promotes color and shape recognition and naming. Again, feel free to pull out another child (if it's ok with the classroom teacher) for this game. It works on social skills and special needs kids love playing with their peers in fun structured settings.

7. Colorama
A classic game for shape and color matching and recognition. Hexagon and trapezoid are a bit tricky but they have all the basic colors and shapes.

Like any great SEIT, I've spend my first two paychecks on games and supplies. I'm looking to invest in an iPad next cut down on the load I have to carry around with me on the NYC subway system.I'm always looking for more interesting things to bring to my sessions. If you have any suggestions, feel free to comment!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Speech Activities

I am working with a student with moderate speech delays who does not receive any speech services so I incorporate language and articulation activities into my lessons with him.  This is a great site for anyone who wants to learn more about speech and language activities.

Survived my first month..and a half

Its been a rough start to say the least.  Overwhelming to step into other teachers' classrooms and (in some cases) expected to pull out a child you don't know or have a rapport with.  Advice: Be strong in your stance of getting to know the child in his natural environment, i.e. his classroom setting.  You won't learn much about how the child functions regularly through pull out sessions, although that is what some classroom teachers would prefer.  Don't get me wrong, 1:1 sessions are a must to address some cognitive and conceptual goals but they should not be the only thing SEITs are expected to do.  The overall goal is not to have the child dependent on you for everything, but to have him or her function successfully and independently.

Next post: the importance of buying the right supplies.  I'll make some recommendations of what works wonders and what NOT to waste your hard earned money on.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

First Month: 5 Things I've Learned about being a SEIT in NYC

I've been working as a Special Education Itinerant Teacher in NYC for one month and these are the major points I've learned:

1) AN AGENCY IS A BUSINESS FIRST AND FOREMOST.  If you are looking for that "school setting" type support, you won't find it at the agency.  They are looking to maximize profit and if you are lucky, you're one among many providers on their list.  You're seen as a commodity and asset to cover one of their many cases, which provide profit for them.  I don't want to rail against agencies, they are providing an important service to special needs children. And there are small agencies out there that do their best for each, individual case.  However, I've learned that the things I was promised during my initial interview rarely came true.  Assurances of the amount of case work, full-time vs part-time, support from staff is very much dependent on how large the agency is.  The bigger the agency, the more you'll be on your own.  Beware, if the deal seems too good to be true, it usually is.

2)  MAKE FRIENDS WITH OTHER SEITS.  They are a source of support and you will learn a great deal from them.  SEIT work is an isolating experience and you don't have the network of other teachers and administrators that you will find at another school.  You can learn from other SEITS - contacts with their agencies, their experience in the field, suggestions on materials.  Also, if your student has socialization objectives on their IEPs, you can work with another SEIT and their student.  Two heads are better than one!

3) SCHEDULING,  SCHEDULING, SCHEDULING.  It was a hard lesson for me.  September and October are dead months in the work of a new SEIT.  Senior SEITs get their schedules filled up first and you will be panicked for work by October.  I made the mistake of taking on whatever came in first and due to poor planning, I'm left commuting 4 hours a day on a 20hr caseload.  I have trouble taking on more cases because I spend so much of my time traveling!  Also, keep in mind the block of time most preschools have for lunch and nap.  They usually range from 2-2.5 hours and during those times, you will not be able to provide services.  The only thing you can do is take on a home case (which I decided not to during my first year) or take a really long break.  You'll want to try to schedule your cases in the same neighborhood and if you're lucky you might get a few cases in the same school.  You'll have a tighter schedule and opportunities to take on more cases.  Also, don't be afraid to annoy your agency on the availability of more cases.  They won't know unless you speak up.

4) SEIT WORK IS 60% PROVIDING SERVICES, 20% PAPERWORK, AND 20% NEGOTAITING. The majority of your time will be spent providing direct services and finding activities and lesson plans that will best support your student.  The painful part is organizing all the paperwork you have to do, particularly around quarterlies and annual reviews.  I found that at least one day of my weekend was devoted to next week's lesson plans, filling out session notes, reviewing timesheets, reports and other things I let slide during the week.  One of the biggest parts of working as a SEIT is just like any other classroom teacher.  I spend a large amount of time and energy serving as the link between the parents, classroom teachers, and administrators.  Many parents in NYC are not aware of how to advocate for their children in regards to getting their child the correct services.  Another set of parents may be in denial with their child and refuse services by not sending their children to school.  It is up to you to advocate for your student as best as you can and educate parents on the world of special education.

5)  DON'T DRIVE YOURSELF CRAZY IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO AT FIRST.  I tend to worry incessantly when I first take on a case.  It's overwhelming to step into an unfamiliar classroom or home.  Spend the first week or two adjusting to the environment and learning about your students.  His likes, dislikes, triggers, learning styles.  The time you spend observing is valuable and will give you clues on what your next steps should be.  You may feel like you're doing nothing, but you'll be suprised at what your prescence and support alone can accomplish during those first few weeks.

5b) IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO....REASEACH.  The web can offer you many tips on how to address the specific areas of your case.  I am a relatively new teacher and I will be the first to say that I don't have a wealth of experience behind me to automatically know what to do.  I use other teachers, SEIT and Google to help me along.  For instance, if your student has difficulty with reading comprehension, there is a wealth of articles out there that will help break down what comprehension entails and offer you tips on how to address it.  Being a SEIT and teacher is all about survival.  Survival to the next week, month, winter/ spring break.  If something doesn't work out, don't beat yourself up about it.  Try another tactic, your students will forgive you.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Is Anyone Out There?

Being a Special Education Itinerant Teacher (SEIT) in NYC has to be one of the most isolating professions out there.  NYC alone can make you feel like a small fish in a big pond.  Being a SEIT compounds it a hundredfold.  At least...this has been my experience so far.

I'm creating this blog as a forum for all the lonely teachers out there that feel the need for support and guidance. In my career so far, I've found that the most willing and helpful mentors I've had were fellow new teachers.  We are young, motivated, looking for answers, and willing to cooperatively problem solve.  This blogspot is for you.