I would like to share my “why” for seeking my masters in this program of study as I feel that it is my calling and explains my philosophy. I started my education at TTU in engineering and dropped out after 3 semesters. I realized this was not what God had planned for me to do, nor did I enjoy it. While volunteering in my daughters 1st grade class I realized what I wanted to do with my life at that point and time. My daughter, being diagnosed with ADHD and having a seizure disorder had an IEP. I decided to go back to school and major in education. In doing so, I took my first SPED class and felt a tug at my heart each time I wrote a paper, read a chapter from our book, or heard a story from a parent of a special needs’ child. I fought back tears many times while reading, writing and listening, and just couldn’t understand why. I had felt these feelings before in church when the Holy Spirit would get ahold of me, but I couldn’t relate the two until later in life. I was at the end of my college career, so I thought when one of my professor’s came to me and told me I missed my calling and she wished I would reconsider majoring in SPED. At that point in my life as a single parent working and going to school, I just wanted to graduate and get on with my life. Fast forward 20 years. My only sibling had my first and only nephew. He was the light of my life as my daughter was now grown. He didn’t speak, and we noticed something just didn’t seem quite right as he was not reaching the same milestones as other children his age. He was born with 3 holes in his heart and a few other complications. At the age of 3 he was diagnosed with 3Q29 Microdeletion and we still don’t know much about it. All I wanted to do and still want to do is protect him and love him and give him as normal of a life as possible. During my 10 years of teaching middle school math, the administration and other special education teachers seemed to see that I worked best with special needs children and that these children responded to me in a way they had not before, so that is how they populated my classes and I was happy. I quit teaching for a year and became a SPED assistant, as I just needed a break after teaching middle school math for 10 years. Upon returning to my hometown and seeking a teaching position again, I filled three maternity leaves and each were in special education. The first being in the Pre-K Autism classroom, the second being K-2 resource, and the third with the Independence Program. Each time I begged the teacher to extend their leave so I could stay. I then realized God had placed me exactly where he wanted me and I knew what I needed to do. I registered at TTU to get my masters in special education and will never look back. I am exactly where I need and want to be.
Special education is a form of instruction that’s designed to meet the needs of students with disabilities, so that they can learn the same skills and information as other children in school, and the disabilities may be physical, emotional, or behavioral. I feel that all students are unique, capable of learning and have specific needs and should be taught in the least restrictive environment based upon those needs and we as special education teachers are responsible, along with the school staff in meeting those needs. Children should be in an educational environment where they are able to grow physically, mentally emotionally and socially in order to reach their full potential. I feel that students also need to feel safe, loved and respected in their learning environment in order to thrive.
I have had the opportunity to work with individuals with special needs in many different settings including my personal life with my nephew. I have seen first-hand that these students have the ability to overcome the disability by finding ways to build on the students’ strengths and finding new ways for them to learn by accommodating and modifying in order for them to reach their full potential. It is important to remember that no two students are the same and learning styles are extremely varied and we as special educators must differentiate our instruction to fit those learning styles. I feel that in teaching special education we have been given a gift that allows us the opportunity to help these children strive to be the best they can possibly be and show them how to make and reach goals through varied styles of teaching. All students learn differently and focusing on their strengths is important as we apply what we learn in this program of study we have chosen. Using accommodations for the different modes of learning: visual, auditory, kinesthetic and tactile, will help each child reach their full potential. Valuing each child’s identity is of great importance in special education.
Teaching special education not only provides me an opportunity to do what I love, but also share my passion for helping others. I feel the world is lacking love, kindness, compassion and empathy and I want to share that with children who might not receive it otherwise. One of my greatest strengths as an educator has been building relationships with my students and gaining their trust and letting them know they are loved and respected in my classroom and when they have a good foundation, they are not only willing to learn but eager. I feel that with each year that passes, I grow as a person from the experiences that happen in my classroom. I am not just teaching these students’; they are teaching me.