My SpEd Journey – Kyle Poehlke

Inquiry Question: What alternate forms of communication can I use to get through to kids with exceptionalities?

My growth in the area of my inquiry into SpEd has been slower and more frustrating, making specific results harder to pinpoint. I feel like I have a growing understanding of the above question that I posed back in September, and certainly see the need for the inquiry. Communication is essentially the core of teaching and if I cannot communicate effectively with my students, I will never be able to teach them. I see that now more than ever, and have a context in which to move forward in this.

The connection to practice in the classroom has been where I have found this to be really challenging. It started with an attempt at getting to know my students on a personal level and building relationships. As I did this, I began to see some improvements in some particularly troubled students. However, some of that was short-lived. This became a big part of my inquiry and showed the importance of tone, communication, energy, and positivity in my classroom. This became a goal as something to build on.

In January when I decided to focus on communication, I chose to build a hand chime. The physical object has practical use in communication and getting the attention of my students, but it represents more for me than that. The process of making it was full of trial and error, frustration, and confusion. I was out of my comfort zone and was not being led by anyone or anything. I wanted to feel the frustration of stumbling through it and figuring it out. The tension and anxiety that this created was symbolic of my time in the classroom and perhaps the experience of some of my students. I tried stuff that didn’t work, but persevered to create a final product that I am proud of. It is not my nicest work, but I did my best and continue to improve on it. I want to show my students that they too can persevere through their challenges and I am here for them as a support.

I was inspired by so many who stressed the importance of getting to know each of your students. It is then that we can begin to meet their individual needs. It is the relationship of trust and understanding that many are building their inquiries on. I was so excited to see and hear these breakthroughs stemming from that. That foundation is so key, but can be so difficult at times. It takes a lot of extra work and time, but is crucial to understanding how to meet those needs.

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