My first job shadow took place on October 7th, 2010 at Oakwood Elementary, which is a part of the Wayzata Public School district 284. I job shadowed Deborah West. Deb decided that she wanted to come into this career partially due to her sister’s deaf and blind disability. She has always had a need for caring for people who suffer with disabilities and disorders. She recently graduated with her Master’s in Master of Science- Special Ed over at St. Cloud University State. She has been a Step teacher at Oakwood Elementary for 15 years and deicide to switch careers path not entirely different but going into a bigger position as an ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder)/DCD (Developmental Cognitive Delays)/TBI Resource Specialist. Deb works with the four schools in our Wayzata Public School district. She works with The Step Program over at Oakwood Elementary, The Track Program that we have here at Wayzata High School and 2 different programs over at East and West middle school. As a resource specialist, she has a lot of responsibilities such as going to each school and mentoring the Special Ed. Teachers, involving herself as much by conducting meetings with paraprofessionals and teachers. The meetings usually are about how they can improve student’s learning by creating new learning strategies for the disability and disorder students. They also discuss student’s positive and negative behavior and how to deal with negative behavior that the child brings upon the staffs. Deb, teachers, and paraprofessionals come up with new solutions and act upon the student’s negativity to see if there are any changes in result.
When I met with Deb, she was conducting a meeting with 3 other paraprofessionals and a special education teacher. I was able to experience how she conducts her meetings and what they discuss upon. After the meeting, she showed me their Step Program which includes 3 different class rooms but I only got the chance to see 2 class rooms. It wasn’t long until the students arrived to school and got settled into the room. Deb spent some time explaining a lot about the Step Program and what learning strategy they are currently using. They use a strategy called “Structure Teaching”, which involves a daily routine schedule. Each student has their name listed on the wall and are assigned to different activities throughout the day (usually during independent time). For example, one student could be in a learning activity and one student could be having “choice time” (free/play time). It all depends on how the schedules are set. In classroom A, once each activity is completed, the students are to report back to the schedule board and place the completed activity card into their “All done” pocket. In classroom B, it’s a little different because instead of dropping their card into the pocket, they take it with them to their assigned station and place it there. This process is a great way for the students to learn new activities and it helps them by not having the habit of repeating the same activity done each day. There is a time where all students come together and have “Circle time”. This is when teachers and paraprofessionals discuss with students about what month it is, what day it is, what year it is, and what the current weather is. This is also a part of the new “Structure teaching”. They also sing a lot during the “Circle time” to get the students more interactive and it is also a great learning process. During the job shadow I got the chance to experience how the “Structure teaching” system worked and what Deb does as a Resource Specialist. Since Deb wasn’t there with me the whole entire time due to the fact that she had another class to check up on, it was still a great experience because I got the chance to evaluate each classroom on my own and speak to paraprofessionals and a special education teacher (Ms. Karla) who gave me a lot of information and advice for pursuing in this career field.
If I could improve the job shadow, I would’ve liked more one on one time with Deb because I find her occupation very interesting. I would’ve like more time to ask her more questions about her job duties and responsibilities but I couldn’t due to the fact that we ran short on time. What I liked most about my job shadow was having the chance of getting into the Step Program and experiencing how special education teachers, paraprofessionals, and Deb, herself work as a whole with students who have disabilities. The only thing I didn’t like about the job shadow was the fact that I didn’t get to finish the whole school day. It would’ve been really nice to job shadow longer so I can get a feel of how a full school day is ran.
I think that this could be a potential career for me. It will definitely take a lot of hard work for getting that bachelor’s degree and working and training with kids beforehand. I would also need to strengthen my communication and problem solving skills during college or training because this career is all about communication, reasoning, and problem solving. You’re just not working with students, you’re working with students who have a disability or disorder and it’s very important that you know what you‘re doing to care for them. Hopefully one day, I will see myself in Deb’s position or if not, possibly a special education teacher!