At Mountain View Elementary, the K–3 students I work with all have emotional challenges. They come to me with everything from mood disorders to PTSD to autism. There isn’t one particular type of kid; they all arrive with their own issues, and it’s up to us, the teachers, to figure out how to give each student the attention and help they need, while at the same time maintaining classroom order.
One of the best ways to do this is by putting the students first. In recent years, Simi Valley Unified School District has started making the switch to student-centered classrooms. This meant shifting our focus from the faculty’s goals to what the students needed to succeed. Within Simi Valley Unified, Mountain View Elementary is known as an interactive technology school. Whenever the district is considering testing out a new program or tech, they run it through us first.
Last year we launched a pilot of Lightspeed Technologies’ Topcat (a ceiling-mounted speaker) and their Flexcat portable two-way communication pods. The pilot ran from February to May 2016. In that same year, I was awarded Teacher of the Year for Ventura County. The correlation was not coincidental.
Because the system dispersed my voice evenly throughout the room, my kids could now hear me more clearly, which helped our students who were deaf and hard of hearing, but also made a significant difference to all kids in my classroom. They didn’t have to work as hard to pay attention, and could feel as if I was right beside them, talking to each student individually.
Inspired by my experience with this audio system, I developed three best practices that I can recommend to teachers looking to create a happy, productive classroom for students with emotional difficulties:
As I stated before, there is no “typical student” in my classroom. They all have their own unique challenges, histories, and personalities. That’s why our district has embraced the student-centered classroom, and why I make it a priority that every student can hear and be heard.
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[Video] Flexcat Benefits
Jamie Reese is a K-3 teacher at Mountain View Elementary in Simi Valley, CA. Jamie was voted Ventura County Teacher of the Year 2016. Follow her on Twitter: @teachermsjamie.
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