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Special Education

A New SPED SIG Representative

By Claudia Plata

Greetings! As one of the newest members to the Executive Board, I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude and excitement to serve as the representative of the Special Education SIG.  I look forward to collaborating with this group of respected and passionate professionals.  
Although I am not a SPED teacher. I have collaborated with teachers in this field and worked with SPED ELLs.  After I left my classroom I became the only District Bilingual Math Specialist. Even though I taught SPED ELLs while I was a classroom teacher, it was during my time as Math Specialist that I had the opportunity to work hands-on with wonderful devoted teachers of bilingual students who provided students with varied learning strategies.  Their concern and sensitivity was evident by the ways in which they adapted instruction to help those who were possibly learning-disabled students.  Later, some of these students were evaluated and classified.

During my observations, the teachers were sensitive to modify their instruction to reach their struggling students.  They adapted their instruction to accommodate various learning styles in their classrooms. For example, teachers included ample listening and speaking activities to reinforce and master academic skills for those students who are primarily verbal learners. Their classrooms were print-rich with student-created visuals that aided the learning of visual learners.  They assisted their auditory learners by having them listen to recorded lessons or feedback from classmates. Kinesthetic learners created 3-D projects that assisted them with the comprehension of content area matter. A plethora of manipulatives and materials were available for various learning units. Awareness of learning styles enhanced the ability of these teachers to help their students experience success and reach their goals.

On another note, the upcoming 2012 spring NJTESOL/NJBE conference will be held May 30-31 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Brunswick.  I encourage all teachers with SPED ELLs to share their experiences and knowledge as a presenter or by participating in our Poster Sessions.  The deadline for workshop proposals is October 31, 2011 and the deadline for the Poster Sessions is January 15, 2012.   First-time presenters may present a workshop with a colleague.  Graduate Forum proposals are also due on January 15.

In addition, our Scholarship Program is still accepting donations.  In light of budget cuts and tuition increases, scholarships are crucial for many of our students continuing their higher education.  Watch the Hotlist, and our website, for information on applications for your students to apply for one of these scholarships.

Always visit our website at: http://www.njtesol-njbe.org/ for more information.

Claudia Plata is the Special Education SIG representative.  She is a teacher in Perth Amboy Public Schools.