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Community Engagement Project

As a teacher during this experience I have learned that teaching special education

students takes a lot of dedication, patience, and passion. The group of students that I worked with

were very welcoming, kind, and smart. I had the privilege of working with kindergarten and first

graders. Being a general education teacher, I never had the chance to work with a special

education class before, so when the opportunity came up, I was glad to see how one of these

classes looked like. I have learned that I will need to take time to plan and make adaptations for

those children with special needs in my classes. I have grown as a teacher leader throughout this

experience because I have learned techniques and strategies that can be incorporated into my

future classroom. This experience has made me a more developed and knowledgeable teacher

and has taught me how to differentiate instruction.

If I had to change something to do differently next time, I would have loved to stay for an

entire day to see how the rest of the day would have gone. I was there for only the morning time,

but if I ever got the chance to go back, I would definitely stay longer. I would also have also

liked to bring in a small group lesson for my special needs kids. Students learned social skills,

math, and reading while I was there, so if I could have come up with a mini math lesson that

would have been interesting to see how my students retained and were engaged with the lesson. I

also wished that I would have brought them in snacks because they always had snack time when

I was there.

This experience affected my ideas/beliefs about teaching students with disabilities

because I always thought that I would never get any students with a disability in my class, but

that is not true. I always thought that the special education teachers would teach all of the special

needs children. Many people look down on students with special needs, but they are the same as
every other person. The only thing different about them is that they just need a little more help

which is okay. Through this experience my ideas on the intelligence of the students was proven

that they are very smart. Each one of the students had their own interests, but if they did not

share, then students often felt alone. I loved how Mrs. Dippolito cared for each of her student’s

interest by engaging in a morning circle where students shared what they did over the weekend

and what their interests were.

This experience has helped me to improve my ability to work with students with

disabilities. I have learned strategies that will help me to successful help students with special

needs. When I worked with students one on one, I was able to see that each and every one of

them were capable of the work. Some of them did not want to do the work, but they all had the

knowledge and skills to complete it. I was able to see that some students were farther along than

others in the class because they were able to get the work done more quickly. This experience

has helped me to work with students who have disabilities because they loved it when I talked to

them about their favorite movie or favorite sport because it helps to build positive relationships

between us. From this experience, I now know that I need to communicate with the special

education teachers when differentiating instruction for my special needs students. This

experience has also improved my ability because I have a love for working with special needs

students.

The surprises that I have when working with the special education class was how

different the overall class is from general education. In a regular classroom, students come into

the classroom and they sit down to read a book or start on morning work. However, with the

special education class, students come into the classroom and immediately engage in a brain

break where they get moving. Students are dancing and moving, but they are still learning
important skills such as the days of the weeks and the seasons. Brain breaks and movement

transitions should be implemented into every single classroom. I was also surprised at how many

schedules were displayed in the classroom. There were four to five different schedules for

students to follow. I always thought that all of the students would have the same schedules, but

they were not, so it was nice that they were displayed. I liked the way that this was set up

because any visitor that walked in could see where Mrs. Dippolitio’s students were at any point

in the day. Overall, this experience has been very beneficial, and I would recommend any

education major to take the same opportunity that I did.