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Emily Ritchey

Teacher Interview Questions Answered by Mrs. Guarino

1. Why did you go into the Special Education field?

a. I volunteered at a summer camp for special needs students and enjoyed working
with this population.
2. What is the most difficult part of your job?
a. Finding time to coordinate with all the regular education teachers, personal care
aides about student needs and paperwork
3. How is RTI, RTII, or MTSS used in your school district to enhance the learning of a child
who has been identified as a child with a disability?
a. We have universal screeners given 3x per year to identify students using the RTii
model. The students then receive reading support with reading teachers or the
instructional coordinator supports in math. Tier 3 students are progress
monitored and some eventually referred for testing.
4. How inclusive is Maxwell Elementary?
a. LS students are included in regular math and have pull out for reading with an
alternate curriculum unless they are a monitor student.
5. Does Maxwell Elementary complete sweep screenings? If so, how often and what is on
these assessments?
a. YES, fall, winter, & spring
6. What is your opinion on No Child Left Behind and the Every Student Succeeds Act?
a. I am in favor of this because it enables each student to succeed and receive
support as needed.
7. Do you ever face difficulties when working with paraprofessionals?
a. No, my paraprofessional is very good. She works under my direction or the
classroom teacher.
8. Do you ever implement transitional services at this age?
a. No, 14 years of age or older
9. Is it difficult to keep all your students schedules straight? (If they have various related
services, etc. throughout their school day.) If so, how do you organize that information?
a. Schedules for myself, para, and aides. I have a copy of OT, PT, and Speech
support as well. Some students use a visual schedule.
10. Do you have advice when it comes to leading IEP meetings?
a. Make sure parents feel a part of the decision making and that you have good
Maxwell Observation Summary

On September 12, 2018, I spent two hours at Maxwell Elementary which is in the

Hempfield School District. I spent the first hour with Mrs. Gilroy and the second with Mrs.


While I observed Mrs. Gilroy she was in an inclusive 4th grade math class. She was

implementing push-in services. She shared with me that at Maxwell, all students who receive

special education services receive push-in math instruction and pull-out language arts

instruction. There were multiple students who have identified learning disabilities in the class

but she says that she gives supports to whoever needs them when she is there. There are

students in the class that were struggling with math instruction that have not been identified as

having a specific learning disability. During my observation, Mrs. Gilroy walked around and

made sure that the students were staying on task and asked if they needed any help or

assistance. There did seem to be a great deal of confusion during the instruction, the students

did not know what was expected of them and it was unorganized. The math teacher informed

me that this year they are implementing a brand new math curriculum and she was still working

out the kinks. The first hour of my observation was the less exciting of the two.

My second hour, I observed and followed Mrs. Guarino around her multiple placements.

Upon entering her classroom, she was giving a 1st grader, named Allen (name has been

changed) a math test on simplified addition. After Allen finished his five question quiz, we

moved to Allen’s 1st grade classroom where she assisted him during his math instruction. Once

again, this math class was inclusive. Allen, who is on the Autism Spectrum, was utilizing a
reward system where if he received three stars, he was able to select a prize. Next, we moved

to Mrs. Guarino’s next student named Ned (name has been changed). Ned, who is also on the

Autism Spectrum, was finishing up his time with his Occupational Therapist. His instruction was

one-on-one and was working on activities that were both academically and physically

instructive. One of the main focuses of the OT session was his fine motor skills, they were

practicing cutting paper with scissors and gluing strips of paper together. After that, we took

Ned back to Mrs. Guarino’s classroom where they worked on language arts instruction for

about five minutes. They worked on the word ‘my’ using blocks with letters on them. She would

also hold up a piece of paper with multiple sight words on it and he had to point to my. Lastly,

Allen came back for his language arts instruction. He worked with sample letter cards that had a

sandpaper letter on them so he could feel the letter’s shape. He also worked on blending letter

sounds. One activity that I really liked was Mrs. Guarino gave Allen a slinky and he let it move

between his hands as he practiced saying words with intonation. Ex: III’MMM and SSSEEE.

While Mrs. Guarino was working with Allen, there was a small group of six, 3rd graders working

on language arts with a paraprofessional.

Overall, I was able to witness how much a special educator completes in a very, short

amount of time. Mrs. Guarino worked with multiple students in a matter of an hour. After

reading the case laws for this class about special educators not implementing IEPs correctly for

students, I unfortunately could see how that could happen. Special education teachers have so

much on their plate it would be easy to get overwhelmed and simply forget to do something

that was supposed to be done for one of your students. Being organized and orderly has to be a

main priority when working with such individualized instruction, schedules, and a large amount
of paper work. After observing the two learning support teachers, I can confidently say that I

couldn’t imagine going into any other profession and came out of the observation with multiple

new techniques and tricks to use in the future. Even though, the job comes with a crazy

schedule, a large work load, and not the greatest pay, it is obvious that the benefits outweigh

the negative aspects of the job. Most of the observations I have completed thus far for my

classes at SHU have been in general education classrooms. While some of them have been

inclusive, it was nice to spend more time in a learning support environment, the instructional

techniques I witnessed will definitely be helpful while completing my special education

placement for student teaching.