* About me

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I am a semi-retired special educator with 45+ years experience. Yes, that makes me pretty old and I was probably teaching long before many of you were born. I always wanted to be a teacher, probably because I had some amazing and loving teachers myself. I have taught kids with a wide variety of disabilities, primarily in the public school system at the elementary level. My specialties are reading and social skills. Have you heard of Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers: The Story of Success?” Gladwell summarizes research that suggests it takes at least 10,000 hours to develop expertise in some field. That makes me appreciate all those long hours at school when I start to feel old and creaky. I hope you enjoy this site as much I enjoy sharing it.

51 thoughts on “* About me

  1. Hello Teachezwell,
    I’ve got a young piano student who i suspect has ADHD. He’s doing well at piano, but his Mum’s having difficulty teaching him math. She’s very interested and supports him in learning and is looking for ideas on how to get him to find math exciting. He’s a very creative and intelligent child, once he pays attention. Do you have any links or blogs that i could send to her?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I happened to stumble on your blog. I also worked with elementary aged children in fulltime Special Education classrooms. My main role was with students who were considered a danger to themselves and others. It didn’t matter what the disability was it was their conduct that kept them from attending the classes to receive that intensive support for their disability. I loved, loved, loved going to work each and everyday although most thought and still do think I am nuts. The saying goes “the proof is in the pudding” and my kids excelled. Most I am still in contact with either on the phone or face to face.

    I am in the process of putting together an outline for a book I was asked to write. I may include stories from other educators and I would like educators from different locations. If you would be interested let me know. If not that is ok as well. Either way I look forward to reading your blog.

    Stacey
    http://www.staceyslifeblog.wordpress.com

    Like

  3. Networking. And, There are no accidents. I found this site of yours through my bloggers. Looks like a fun ride. We have just too much in common, though our 860 square foot condo cannot have but a small room for TV, my man cave, my airplane collection, and our hide-a-couch. I am pleased that my wife and I both love movies, though no gory/vampire stuff. I like the war movies; she tolerates them. However–a big however–since we have a son as a career soldier and an Army grandson, she does pay attention to Courage Under Fire, Crimson Tide, Hurt Locker, and the like; for this I am grateful. Please take a look at my site. I retired at 49 years. I did my time. And my poor Blog Widow….

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can just picture your man cave, airplane collection, and hide-a-couch snuggled into a TV room! I’ve seen all those movies you mentioned and really liked The Hurt Locker. I will head to your site after I finish teaching! Thanks for sharing.

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  4. Hi there, I came across your blog via David Snapes and Friends and wanted to stop by here to check out your blog and to thank you again for your kind remarks. I have sucah an appreciation for teachers in general and more specifically those in special ed. My middle son has ADHD and back when he was diagnosed (well over 20 years ago) I almost felt like I was going to school with him as I was his advocate. Daily report cards, emails, letters, calls kept me in constant communication with his educators/IEP team.

    The service that teachers like you provide is priceless and though you weren’t directly involved with my son, obviously you’ve touched the lives of many other chlidren and I thank you!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Katharine,

    Are there any books or online links you could recommend as reading material. I’m wanting to study about the different kinds of behaviour disorders that affect kids, teens and adults, so that I can understand them better if I ever I get them in my students in the future, and adapt my teaching methods to them.

    Something that’s written in a non-technical way, so it’s easy for me to grasp? I’m specifically looking at teaching students who need the learning environment adapted to meet them, and whether kids like these who are on the mild side of the spectrum, can be later taught to meet the environment the way it is. I don’t do special ed – this is just a little research project for myself – to be better educated as a teacher.

    Appreciate any suggestions….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Eliza! That’s a good question. I think online resources tend to be less technical. One of my favorites is Understood.org. They cover a wide range of issues, including behavior. As you’ve already noted in your posts, many learning challenges have behavioral “side effects,” so sometimes kids with reading disabilities seem oppositional or depressed, or withdrawn. It’s true with most of the academic problems. If the environment becomes too frustrating, kids may act out. Let me know if that site is helpful and I can direct you somewhere else if you want more. You sure you don’t want a career in special ed????????

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks! I think I just want to be able to teach and do it well. I think that I want to be able to identify students with real difficulties and have teaching methods that are in place so I am able to help them, and know how to talk to parents. Not really looking at a career in special Ed but am quite open to any students who might come along.

        I’m trying to make my students have fun with music theory, and be more motivated. And this year I also want to focus on students with erratic practise habits. Instead of making them practise regularly, which they don’t want to do, I’m trying to use games and challenges, so they are so attentive when they practice, that the erratic works… At least until they reach their teens, and get down to regular work on their own. Any kind of study helps, and I feel that I now need to open up my mind to the all kinds of piano teaching.

        Thanks for the link.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve given up on that endeavor. I found that I was too anxious when someone was sitting next to me, listening to every mistake. I also struggled with music theory. But thanks for your offer!

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  6. Hi Katharine,

    Here’s an update on my student who I suspected had ADHD…The student enjoys piano class and is very interested and has fun with it. Progress is erratic. Focus varies – from poor after a long break, to extremely high – but I can see that even on days with poor focus there’s and exceptional amount of effort, and I make sure I show appreciation for this and communicate it.

    It’s getting easier, because the parent understands that her child is trying. Positive feedback to parents from me, where I appreciate effort, means the student gets approval for effort at home and this reduces the student’s anxiety and increases confidence, leading to quick improvement at the next class. As the child grows older, I find focus improving, and I think a couple of years more, and I’ll have a teen who goes at an amazing pace and has learned how to handle distractions. The distractions this student faces are mostly an excess of creative ideas, so I think time and patience will teach the student how to handle this.

    Right now, I’m rewarding effort, focusing on building confidence, and being grateful that this student is like some of my other students, who are learning (with a lot of parent support) to enjoy the daily rigour of piano practise.

    Feeling grateful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, Eliza, you are the perfect teacher for this student! It’s interesting to see that the student is mostly distracted by his/her creative thoughts. Many ADHD students are distracted by all manner of external stimuli, along with internal distractions. Obviously, engaging the mom has helped but I think your patience, flexibility, and high expectations are key. SO glad you shared!

      Liked by 1 person

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