I am a 45 year old Special Education Teacher. I have zero social media presence, but I can tell by observing the way things work that I need to change that to be considered relevant.
While I was working
teaching mostly 3rd through 6th graders in a “blended services” Learning Center (all Specialized Academic Instruction in one place), I had a series of epiphanies. You know, like how life sends lessons your way when you’re not in a position to do anything about them? Over time, these feeling built up until they would no longer be ignored. I felt that there were important elements missing in the products available to teach Special Education, and that I might just be able to help plug some of those holes. At the end of last school year, I resigned my teaching position to see if I can make a go of this.
My dream is chasing me!
Core Align educational products is my idea for an umbrella company to house books and curriculum specially designed to ALIGN with the Common Core Standards, but be ACCESSIBLE to children with various learning-related disabilities. My first project is “The History of…” nonfiction book sets. It turns out I am one person working alone, so I need to focus on one project at a time.
I have worked with such a variety of children over the course of my 14 year career! But in the last 5 years or so, I was moved by the children who found “nothing to read.”
I put countless hours and thousands of dollars into building the most robust classroom library around. I became an expert on readability and leveled my library into grouped reading ranges. I bought all of the new book series, popular graphic novels, and nonfictions readers as they came out. And still….
The problem became clear: most of my students were reading at a 2nd to 3rd grade level.
- Most of the material published at a 2nd to 3rd grade level appeals to… 2nd and 3rd graders. Don’t get me wrong! There are tons of awesome authors that got my kids started on the path of independent reading – Cynthia Rylant comes to mind because of her Mr. Putter and Tabby series and Henry and Mudge. But as my kids got older the subject matter became less interesting and, at times, insulting.
- Some of my students struggled to make progress, even through 5th and 6th grade. I once calculated that if a child read 5 books a week over the 40 weeks of a school year, they could easily read over 200 books a year. That’s not counting books read in class! If my 2nd – 3rd grade library holds 400 books, you can see the problem. After 2 years or so, a kid could have read ALL of the books available at their independent reading level!
- Many of my students had specialized interests, even at a young age. As mentioned earlier, the subject matter of lower-level books can be over simplified – puppies, kittens, fairies, Legos™, Flat Stanley… But I have had students in my class interested in farm equipment, vehicles, politics, history, and even wars. It makes sense to provide children with reading material that will inspire them to keep learning and feeling successful. Rather than censoring the material available that they can read themselves.
So, I am going to share my journey here – the road to trying to publish my 1st book set, the challenges of writing curriculum, and the political and bureaucratic road blocks facing education in general, and special education in particular right now.