Personal Professional Development Plan
Personal Professional Development Plan
The goal of this personal professional development plan is to write a grant that seeks the money to employ another special education teacher for an elementary school, who can provide support in the integration of special education students in non-special needs classroom setting, by way of shadowing students.
Special education holds a deep personal meaning ever since I encountered a student who will change my life forever. This student found many difficulties when in school. The student had a disorder known as Pervasive Developmental Disorder, or PDD. This fell within the autism spectrum. The disorder caused the student to not develop socially past a second grade level, but their brain still developed, which allowed them to be quite brilliant. I felt like I was failing the education of this student, because he did not quite fit into the mold of a special education classroom; however, he did not socialize well with a non-special education class, which made him seem to have behavioral issues. I spent a lot of time trying to learn about this disorder. He was in an integrated classroom, but his IEP called for him to be taken out of class quite often. The student began to fall behind in class. Finally, I helped lobby for him to get a shadow. It was a difficult task, as many students were not able to get shadows, because the school district simply did not have the funds to hire someone else. I reached out to my community, and I was able to find a retired Navy officer to volunteer to shadow the student. Luckily, the officer had experience with students who had special needs; however, I knew this was a fluke, and there are many students that need the training of a special needs teacher to help them succeed. This has driven me to be passionate about this cause.
It is essential for students to be in the same classroom and even school where students with disabilities are, because it causes a conversation. Not only do students with disabilities create different interactions for students, but a diverse learning group simulates what students will face outside of school in a non-regulated environment (Ackerman, 2012). The teacher must be able to control the environment while including the students with individualized education plans or IEPs, while still providing education for all the students. However, a teacher with strong Christian beliefs, whether they work in a secular or Christian school, can incorporate their faith even if it is not directly mentioned.
A Christian educator can share his or her faith more openly and freely in a Christian school than he or she can in a public school. While a Christian can share scripture, wisdom and truth through Bible lessons, teach from a biblical perspective and incorporate Christian books into his or her curriculum at a Christian school, he or she cannot do these specific faith-based practices in a public school because of laws prohibiting sharing one’s faith. The best way a Christian educator can bring a Christian approach into a public school is by living out God’s word and acting upon the fruits of the spirit. In Galatians 5:22, Paul writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Another way for the Christian teacher to transcend the secular classroom is by loving and including children who have special needs and disabilities by differentiating instruction.
There are different ways to approach special education, especially in the realm of the enhancement of special education. While a secular approach seeks to enhance a student’s knowledge to help prepare them for the future, a Christian view requires a parent’s involvement at home to help instill the child’s faith, meanwhile a teacher can use their own Christian views (whether in a secular or Christian setting) to help the child grow as a person not just provide specialized learning to gain knowledge from a book. A biblical approach also has the objective to use scriptures, either directly or indirectly as a method to help the students understand an issue.
A Christian teacher can remember, Mark 16:15. Mark 16:15 states, “and he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” Through this verse would is able to find that people with disabilities are part of the whole creation. This verse helps Christians see that even if a child has disabilities, the child should be embraced by the teacher even if it includes more work in the inclusionary process.
Throughout the teachings of Jesus, there are many arguments that can be made that he made up his own type of IEPs (Ackerman, 2012). John 9:1-3 states, “As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Jesus, just like a teacher, showed that a disability is not a punishment due to sin and that God has a purpose in disability. As a teacher, we must see disabilities as God’s purpose, and work with the person to provide them with the best opportunities that we can possibly provide them with. A secular approach typically focuses on students who are elite and do not require a different approach to learning or additional help in the learning process. But, God calls his followers to reach and serve all, not only those who are academically superior. Teachers who incorporate differentiated instruction focus on the subject matter that really matters and teach in a way that is creative, interesting, flexible, and effective for multiple learning styles and preferences. A Christian approach to special education focuses on individual gifts and strength as well as individual accomplishments (Ackerman, 2012).
Section 204 through the US government requires states to provide appropriate as well as free education to all students, no matter their disability, race, creed or any other defining qualities. One section of this section requires that the education services must even meet the individual needs of a student with disabilities (Hallahan, Kauffman, and Pullen, 2015).
Each public agency, or school, shall make sure that they make sure to the maximum extent possible that the children with disabilities are educated with children who are not disabled; and that special classes, separate schooling or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular education environment occurs when other choices have been exhausted.
The school will ensure that there are alternative placements available for individual needs of children such as: regular classes, special classes, special schools, home instruction, shadows, mentors, and instruction in hospitals and institutions.
Many times a special needs child will need different services in order to perform their best in a school setting. In addition to the least restrictive environment, they may need speech-language services, a mentor, a show, or part of the day spent in regular classrooms, while part of their day is spent reviewing the material from those regular classrooms to ensure they are caught up on the work (Gibb and Dyches, 2016).
Goal (Personal Implementation)
The grant proposal will have negligible out of pocket costs. As the teacher, I will dedicate personal time to writing the grant proposal, as well as research to ensure the validity of facts provided in the grant proposal. Time will be implemented in interviewing the needs of parents and special education students. According to the South Carolina Labor Board, the average elementary school special education teacher makes $50,980. The cost of this grant will be the average wage of the new teacher, as well as the package offer from the school district, including health, 401(k), and vacation benefits. This grant will propose a minimum 2 year contract to be revisited again each two years, for as long as the district provides the grant, or the teacher is hired on directly by the district. Challenges
Students with nonverbal learning disabilities need support in order to put their coherent thoughts on paper. In order to do this, the teacher provides structure and help. The teacher helps them use their skills to remember and articulate in the classroom. The teacher takes a graphic organizer to help separate the children’s thoughts out. Technology helps allow the students to create the graphic organizers of their ideas. This provides structure to their assignment as well as a framework. Expectations must be clear with students, such as setting a timer that provides a clear and concise timing for the children. Extra help for the students is essential to help the students succeed, but some students may see this as unfair. This can be a hurdle when presenting the grant proposal to the school district as well.
The time restraint will pose a slight problem. This grant is to be written during the second semester of the school year, which can be very busy due to various testing. There will be, on average, an additional of 10 hours a week of work added to the schedule. This work will be done on my own time, which will be difficult.
The school district has very little extra money, so there will be a constraint with getting the grant approved for a two year period. The earlier the proposal is submitted, the more likelihood that the grant will be approved or approved pending certain alterations.
The timeline for this grant proposal will span from January to June. This will consist of the second semester in classes, and allow time to present the grant for the school board’s grant decision deadline of July 15th. The month of January will be devoted to gathering research on why shadows are essential to assist students. The research is best done this month due to the slow pace of the month which is dictated by getting the students back into school from winter break. Each week in February a different set of parents and students will be interviewed to understand what they feel like would help them better succeed in classes. Some of these interviews will be difficult due to the younger age of the students. Students who have experienced classroom integration will be the focus of the interviews. The student and parent pairs will be selected after an open letter is sent home with students requesting parents to share their ideas. Each parent and student pair will be selected from this group. The only stipulation is that their child has an existing IEP. The month of March is very busy with spring break; however, this month will be used to compile the information and submit an intent to propose letter to the district. April is full of testing and preparation, therefore April will be slightly less rigorous. This month will consist of gathering all statistics needed to help back up all assertions made by the research and interviews and make the information relevant to the specific district. May will be used to finalize all grant information, along with proof-reading and requesting input by the existing special education teacher. The proposal will be submitted the second week of June. This will provide two weeks left in June pending any changes and setbacks in scheduling.
Ackerman, B. (2012). G.U.I.D.E. Differentiated instruction for Christian educators. Lynchburg, Va.: Liberty University Press.
Gibb, G. & Dyches, T. (2016). Guide to writing quality individualized education programs. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Hallahan, D., Kauffman, J., & Pullen, P. (2015) Exceptional learners: an introduction to special education (13th ed.) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
The Holy Bible, New International Version.