Introductory Challenge

Sharon Stewart was starting her ninth year as a paraprofessional. Rather than feeling the late August excitement that she usually felt, this year all she felt was fear. She was frightened about starting school because her new assignment would be to work one-on-one with a little girl with deaf-blindness. Sharon had no idea what to do. Not only that, the teacher with whom she normally worked was on maternity leave.

Although she was reluctant to talk to other people about what was really her problem, she was becoming more and more agitated. Eventually, Sharon decided to talk with several educators who might help her figure out what to do. Apologetically, she called her supervising teacher who talked with her briefly but then got off the phone to change a diaper. She also called her father who had worked for a long time as a social studies teacher in another district. And she decided to talk with the instructor of her on-line teaching methods class and also to have a conversation with the school principal, who was a good family friend. What she learned from her discussions with the four people allowed her to imagine a workable approach for handling the new challenge. Sharon felt a little better, but she still had a lot of questions.

Below is a summary of what each person said. You will learn more about what each of the educators meant by what they said as you move through the rest of the activities in this unit.

  • What the teacher said: “Try not to worry. There’s going to be a new arrangement at the school this year. The principal calls it a ‘teacher-based team’.”
  • What her father said: “You are not alone. There are certainly other educators in your school or district who can provide help.”
  • What her instructor said: “There are many effective practices that you can use to support the learning of a child with both vision and hearing loss.”
  • What the principal said: “This year we are going to use data to figure out what to try with different students and to see how the methods we try are actually working.”

Right now, it may be hard to see how the points made by the four educators actually fit together. After completing the rest of the activities in this unit, you will have a much better idea of how teacher-based teams use data, draw on the strengths of educators across a school or district, select and use promising instructional practices, and evaluate the impact of those practices on students’ learning.