Wow—it’s March! Only a few more months until the end of the school year and only a few more weeks until Spring Break! We are thrilled to have the opportunity to share with you during this month. We are Joyce Meyer and Mary Cohen—friends, educators, colleagues, and, along with Maureen Gale (your blogger last month), co-authors of CEC’s Survival Guide for the First Year Special Education Teacher.
Joyce comes to you from Gurnee, IL, where she is an elementary school principal. Over the past 24 years in education, she has taught students with Specific Learning Disabilities, served as a District Coordinator for Special Education, and also served as an Assistant Principal. Joyce continues to be an active member of CEC and the Learning Disabilities Association, serving at both the local and state levels.
Mary lives in Bethesda, MD (just outside of Washington, DC), where she works as an education consultant. Mary taught in a high school in a small town in Kentucky before moving to the DC area to work for CEC. Though she left CEC in 1993, Mary has continued to work in the education field in a variety of capacities.
Though the two of us came through special education undergraduate programs at different times and in different states, one of the assignments we both had to do was write a philosophy of education. Mary remembers having this assignment in more than one class. At the time, the focus was on “getting it done” so that the next assignment/project/test could be tackled.
However, as we began teaching, we realized that our philosophy of education was at the heart of our approach to our students. As you know, some days you finish feeling good about how things went, how you interacted with your students, and how your lessons went. Other days, you find yourself wishing you had done something differently or addressed some issue in a different manner, replaying it over and over again in your head.
As we look back on these different kinds of days, we realize that part of the reason why some days are easier to reflect on than others relates directly to our philosophy of education. Every day, we make thousands of decisions in our classrooms. How will I teach this lesson? How will I modify this lesson for this particular student? How will I respond to this behavior or that behavior? How will I approach my colleague about this issue? How am I going to talk to this parent about a concern? How will I recognize the accomplishment of my students? The list could go on and on. And, on those “good” days, we believe that you are making decisions that are in line with your philosophy of education—what you believe is important to you as a special education teacher.
What are your core beliefs as a teacher? What are those two or three core values you carry with you every day into your classroom? What is most important to you as a teacher? If we asked ten teachers these questions, we would get ten different answers. And, all ten of them would be correct. If we take the time to honestly reflect on what we believe about our own teaching philosophy and let those values guide our actions and decisions in the classroom, hopefully we will feel better about those decisions.
One of our core values is respect—for students, for colleagues, for parents. What are your core values? Think about it and let us know what is most important to you as a special education professional.
Joyce and Mary