Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Today I observed at the Watson Institute a school for special needs students. It is a requirement as an education student at Geneva to get an idea of what being a teacher entails before completing all the necessary courses. I was very excited about it because I get to do my special education observation before my elementary education observation. My co-op teacher at Watson's has a room with eight autistic children between the ages of eight and eleven, they are at different levels within a preschool / kindergarden grade. All the students are non-verbal, which means they communicate mostly through sign-language and picture exchange which I will explain in a moment. My co-op is the primary teacher and there are two full-time helpers and one part-time assistant.
When I arrived, they were in the middle of "socialization time". This time stressed objectives such as communication, recreational skills, peer interaction and turn taking, I was included right into the structure of the afternoon and was interacting with the kids from the beginning. Next, we had a snack. In the classroom, each student has a picture book that contain icons. These icons help them communicate what they cannot communicate with words. For example, they have a rectangular board with velcro on it. The kids can pick the icon for "I want" and the icon for "pretzels", stick both on the rectangular board and when it is their turn they can ask for it. Not all the children were able to do this, but I was very impressed by the several children who could. :) After snack, the children attended specials. Next week, I will be able to go with them, but today I spoke with the supervisor and my co-op explained some about her lesson plans and about the regular schedule. I was so excited when I came back to campus, I think this is going to be a great experience, I am so excited to see how the rest of the classroom works and to learn more about autistic children. :)