I'm a pre k art teacher at an early childhood center (part of the the MD public schools). Students are there because they have speech delays, fine and gross motor issues or are on the autism spectrum.
My school prepares the students to graduate, then either mainstream into public elementary schools or to attend specialty schools at the elementary level.
I love this job because it enables me to use my knowledge of art and special education to reach my students.
My students teach me to be a better teacher! Professional development has been a major resource. One student was confined to a wheelchair due to her mom getting hit by a drunken driver. She was four years old, but was a great advocate for addressing her needs. "Ms. G, I can't hold this brush, can you help me?"
This led me to making inquiries at a National Art Education Association conference where I learned about an adaptive tool made from a handle on a milk carton. I attended a workshop which helped me learn the Core Board system enabling speech-delayed students to "communicate" better and to help draw out spoken language.
The session I will lead at the National Art Education Association Conference will touch on classroom community-building, imaginative ways to use recycled materials (as public schools have tight budgets) and helpful tips for special needs learners in the art room.
I have many exciting art projects for early childhood- aged students that I look forward to sharing at the session I will lead.
Fellow art teachers at this annual conference come from all over the nation and so this information will have an even wider reach when teachers return home and share their experiences with colleagues .
Equally important, I will be able to attend sessions as well so that I too can return to my school with new strategies and tips for my classroom. I always share what I learn with my peers at school. At one previous conference I learned about making an adaptive paint brush tool from a milk jug handle and happily shared this with the Physical and Occupational Therapists at my school. They were thrilled about this and shared this with PT and OT peers at other schools in our district.
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