As Special Educator in an elementary school, I have many roles. In short, my job is to support individual students on my special education caseload as well as train and manage aides and behavioral therapists that support them. I also provide direct service in reading, writing, and math. Another large part of my role is to create and promote an inclusive school environment by supporting staff school-wide and classroom practices.
Our elementary school is one of the most diverse and neediest within the district.
We are located in Newton, MA, a suburban city just outside of Boston. We are part of the Newton Public Schools, a district that supports the full inclusion teaching model for our special education students. My school benefits from Title I funds and also has a large ELL population representing children from many different cultures, backgrounds, and socioeconomic situations.
The makeup of our students is as follows: 8.7% African American, 17.3% Asian, 13.9% Hispanic, 54.6% White, 5.5% Multi-Racial, 40% ELL, 25% Students with Disabilities, 60% High Needs, 30% Economically Disadvantaged.
I am hoping to give each classroom a box of sensory tools like fidget toys, silly putty, and flexible seating to support ALL students' needs across grades.
We know that if all classrooms have the tools that students need to support their participation, independence, and self-regulation needs, they will succeed in all areas of school.
We believe that these sensory boxes will serve many important purposes: providing sensory input/output in a localized, non-distracting way, reducing stigmatization of using tools by allowing all students to have access, and increasing self-awareness of learning styles by having access to a variety of tools.
We want these tools to be seen as positive aides to the learning process, not just something that certain students use. We believe that these sensory boxes are another step to becoming a genuinely inclusive school environment.
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