By Marie McHaffie
You walk into your classroom and dread walking over to your desk because your “organized pile system” is breaking down. Once you get there, you are overwhelmed by emails and items that are waiting for you to do in your inbox. You open your desk drawer and smile because you have some snacks in there to get you through your working lunch, because you won’t have but a minute to eat today. Oh and by the way it’s testing week so forget sitting down ever!
Knowing the stresses involved with teaching, I wasn’t shocked to see some articles come out last week about Arkansas Teacher Retention Rates. The reports stated after three years, one in three Arkansas teachers leave the profession. It cited stress, workload, salary, and retirement benefits as the top reasons for teacher burnout. Veteran teachers can usually spot the ones who won’t last. They are the ones that look like Mary Poppins the first day of school and by the last month of school all the sparkle has gone out of them and the lights are out and nobody is home. We have all went to school with our shirts on inside out or two different shoes on right? As a mentor teacher, this statistic upsets me because teaching is a noble profession that exists without proper care or treatment. As professionals, we need to help other teachers make it past those first 3 years. Last week, I sent a teacher call to arms, and teacher colleagues from around the area gave their two cents. I compiled a list of ways to avoid teacher burnout. Oh and by the way wine doesn’t count, but it helps.
Marie McHaffie is an English and Journalism teacher for Mulberry Pleasant View Schools. She has over 11 years of education experience. She has taught in California, Colorado, and Arkansas. Currently, she is part of the Arkansas Teacher Practice Network through the Arkansas Public School Resource Center. You can follow her on Twitter @redwoodgal73.
Originally published on April 20, 2016 in the Greenwood Democrat.
For the past 12 years, I’ve been an educator in a variety of settings. Before being employed in a charter school, I spent time in a variety of educational settings such as public school, private school, virtual school and now charter, all at the high school level. Within these environments, the special education services were very similar. Although each student produced uniquely different finished work products, many of the accommodations were cookie cutter. In many cases, I was given the accommodations needed but often wondered if this Individualized Education Program was truly individualized. In some cases, students seemed to be over accommodated which can, at times, provide a crutch for the student instead of providing an equitable means to the curriculum.
A few years ago, I had the privilege of gaining charter school experience with a school designed to reengage students who have dropped out or those on the verge of dropping out. As students enrolled, I began to see the common elements used on IEP’s seen in previous educational settings. However, as the special education director, I had an opportunity to create a truly student-centered program of services.
Students who have difficulty responding to effective instruction or having adequate self-management skills often have these barriers when:
Over 85% of students entering with accommodations were receiving the following accommodations:
Here I was, surrounded by unique and capable students who seemed to be accustomed to a cookie cutter educational system. When taking in the barriers to learning, we, as the educational team had to focus on accountability and inclusion of all students. The teams goal became working toward grade level standards by using a range of instructional strategies based on varied strengths but ensured equal access to grade-level content.
According to SCASS (State Collaborative on Assessment and Student Standards and ASES (Assessing Special Education Students), students with disabilities can work toward grade-level academic content standards and most will be able to achieve these standards when the following three conditions are met:
A question recently proposed to me brings me to the point of this article. A fellow educator was interested in visiting my school. On our tour, she noticed several of her former special education students who transferred to our school. She asked me “what can we do to help our special education population of students?” Although there are many strategies which may be used, I offered these to start:
These are just a few of the many suggestion I would give to an educator seeking to truly create an inclusive environment. Leveling the educational playing feel is not a one size fits all measure. It is of great importance that accommodations do not reduce expectations for learning. Accommodations should only reduce the effects of a specified disability, not the quality of learning. The individual should always be the focus of individualized education.
By Guest Blogger: Wendylin Bryant
LEA Special Education Coordinator
SIATech Little Rock
Little Rock, AR
It is my pleasure to welcome you to the new Teacher Practice Network blog. I am beyond excited to be working with educators in Arkansas and Oklahoma to share our voices and to continue to raise the voices of educators across this region. The purpose of this blog is to share the thoughts, perspectives, and ideas of teacher leaders from rural communities. This platform will host many different bloggers from a variety of different backgrounds and fields of expertise.
During my educational career I have had the amazing opportunity to attend several national events focused on empowering teachers and lifting their voices. I was very lucky and thankful to work with the LearnZillion Dream Team for 2 years. I’ve had the opportunity to attend two Student Achievement Partners events, and I was so thrilled to attend the National Elevating and Celebrating Teachers and Teaching event in Snowbird Utah. Each of these events helped me to find and celebrate more of my teacher voice. I learned more about my profession and more about myself as a leader.
Upon returning home after each event, I was thankful for the connections I had made on a national level, but I was also desperate to find the same type of connections in my local and regional community. I wasn’t surprised when I found that many other teachers in the state were looking for the same thing. Educators are so excited about and hungry for the possibilities of collaborating, sharing ideas, and sharing our personal stories. I found the same spirit of community and passion at an ABC Huddle I attended shortly after attending my first LearnZillion conference. I found a commitment for raising the voice of educators in the leaders of the Arkansas Public Resource Center. I found so much acceptance, partnership, and motivation when I was able to work with other Arkansas educators to plan and host the first regional Elevating and Celebrating Teachers and Teaching in Arkansas.
This is just my personal story of finding my voice, but many educators have a similar story or are looking for a way to own and share their voice. The Teacher Practice Network blog will be a place for just that. We are building a community of teachers ready to raise and share their voice. Guest bloggers will be sharing their thoughts on many different topics including current legislation, lesson planning, digital resources, community involvement, and many other topics. Our hope is that you join our community through reading and responding to this blog.
We are also still looking for more Oklahoma teachers to join this network. If you are a teacher leader in Oklahoma, and you are interested in working to build a community of teacher leaders, please follow this link to apply. Teacher Practice Network
By: Jessica Wright
Author -- Teacher Practice Network
We are a cadre of teachers from Arkansas and Oklahoma brought together through APSRC and a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation to empower teachers to find their own voice both in and out of the classroom.