Special Needs Classrooms
By Alisha Chavez, Special Education Teacher from Portland, OR
I am a K-2 Special Education Teacher in Portland. It is my second year teaching, and I love it!
At age 13, I started working with special needs children as a volunteer for the Special Olympics. This eventually led me to volunteer for an after school study program for kids with disabilities, and I saw firsthand how an educator can make a world of difference for a student. I was inspired. I chose to focus on helping K-2 students because it is one of the most important periods in a child’s development for building basic skills and confidence.
In my classroom, there are students at all developmental levels and to meet their needs we split them into small groups. I am very lucky to have two para educators in my classroom to assist me because between all of the children being diapered, which results in about 18 restroom trips per day, and the various levels of instruction required — it would be very hard to teach without them.
Another example is an evacuation emergency. I have five kids in wheelchairs, but only three adults working in the classroom most of the time. To get the students out safely we would need to use a push-pull system, but there are at least five other students that also need adult assistance to move around. I have brought it up to the district, and we now have a dedicated person in the building who knows to come by my room in the event of an emergency, but otherwise, the answer is always the same — we need more resources.
I will always do everything I can to help special education students learn and help them feel successful, but with very little funding, it is so difficult to do.
Alisha Chavez is a Special Education Teacher in Portland.