Q1: What aspects of teaching have become more difficult in the last few years? Why? Is the field of aiding behavioral disordered and/or children with mental retardation changed in the last few years?
A1: Teaching has become more complex over time because the goals for each classroom include areas such as social skills, behavioral improvements, anger management, problem solving and the basic academic requisites of reading, written expression, language arts and math. It has become evident that a combination of behavioral skills and academic training is fundamental to the proper education of children. A teacher now must be competent to deal with assessments of all of the aforementioned attributes while providing varied learning in an en environment that is conducive to children of all socioeconomic groups with all types of disabilities.
Q2: What are the goals of teaching children and/or adults with mental retardation or special needs?
A2: The simple goal of expecting each child to improve in multiple behavioral and every subject and behavioral area has not changed. However, assessments now must be more diverse and should include verbal quizzes, hands-on reviews, and written tests indicating growth and new ideas. This way of teaching is necessary, because children today come from such a wide variety of backgrounds, both culturally and environmentally. One of the most important goals, therefore, is for instructors to illustrate to their classrooms that everybody in our world is different, that each person has a right to acceptance and a free and appropriate public education, that this education should be inclusive of all religions, races, areas of physical need, and should provide for any disabilities or handicaps which are present during the changing school in a changing world. This last goal helps to prepare students for life in a world that will go far beyond their own society; it will enable them to understand that all people are different and that we must all look at things globally as well as individually.
Q3: How do you accomplish these goals?
A3: Finally, there are two very basic ways a teacher can accomplish these goals. The first is by taking advantage of every new situation and to look on children from other countries as an opportunity to inject new languages and customs into the learning environment. A classroom in Florida, for example, would probably have some Hispanic children, and teaching some Spanish phrases and cultural backgrounds would help to promote understanding and acceptance while helping children to realize the rich variety of people who live in our country. The second way a teacher can make certain he or she is reaching these goals is to insure that learning has not stopped even though a degree has been received. A good instructor is never finished with learning, and opportunities are plenty for seeing new programs and evaluating which ones are best suited for each group of children.
Q4: What aspects of teaching do you find most rewarding?
A4: When done correctly, teaching can be the most challenging and rewarding of all careers, but it should never be seen as simple or easy. Making a difference in the life of a child is one of the greatest achievements a person can have, and it will be done best by a teacher who learns from his or her own students and who is determined that nothing shall stop learning, at any age. If this can be done, the instructor will have success and the joy which comes from getting up each day to a job which is sometimes exhausting, but never boring and who knows that her students will always remember their first days of learning how varied and interesting school can actually be when they are challenged and accepted for who they are.