Dr. Lana Warren: Today, I am joined by Lisa Carey, a special education consultant in our Center for Innovation and Leadership in Special Education at Kennedy Krieger Institute.
Lisa Carey: For the past few years, I have had the opportunity to work with Baltimore City Schools and Baltimore City teachers through a very generous grant from Transamerica that allows me to go in and really support teachers as they try to meet the needs of all students. One teacher that I have worked with in the past few years really inspired me because of her dedication and how much she was willing to put in to revamp her instructional practice in her classroom to really meet every student’s needs. When I entered her classroom, she had one year of teaching experience. She didn’t have any training in special education and she was teaching a very diverse class with a lot of different needs that included kids with ADHD, kids with learning disabilities, students who have experienced trauma and some students that were struggling with mental health.
The teacher and I spent a long time together talking about what I have observed and what are different things that she could be doing to meet everyone’s needs. We talked about the developmental nature of students with or without developmental disabilities. We talked about behavioral strategies and we talked about instructional strategies that would make learning more exciting. Over the course of that year, she went from not smiling to having really dynamic lessons where everyone felt valued. Everyone felt excited to be in that room. Behaviors that were disruptive or dangerous really decreased. Students had options to move around the room as they needed to, which can be really important for kids who struggled to sit still for long periods of time. The learning went from doing worksheets to doing projects. They did art integration pieces. They went on field trips. Working with that teacher really reminded me of the power of education and how when we support the teachers who are doing the hard work with our students, that that has a magnifying effect of how many individual’s lives can be positively impacted.
Dr. Lana Warren: Inspiring moments is produced for WYPR by Kennedy Krieger Institute. I am Dr. Lana Warren.