Saturday, November 28, 2009

Autism Talks

This has certainly been an exciting year for me on the Adjunct teaching front. I have been picking up more continuing education classes for NTC and I am very excited to be doing a three-part Autism series in the Spring. It will be offered at the Medford, Antigo, and Wausau campuses. I will be covering a number of topics during these talks such as what are Autism Spectrum Disorders, common forms of Autism Treatment, how to seek a diagnosis or make a referral, supporting children on the Autism Spectrum in your classroom, and much more. It should be a fun and educational three days.

Speaking of In-home therapy, I ran into a family that I used to work with this evening. What a treat! It's always to run into families and get updates about how the children I used to support are doing. In this case, the child is doing very well, receiving minimal services. I had a pretty significant weight loss since I worked with that particular family, so I was pretty surprised that the mom recognized me.

This week I am including some resources that are specific to Autism Spectrum Disorders, advocacy, and treatment. I hope you find them helpful and interesting. Have a great weekend!

Keep playing,

Rachael :-)

Autism Society of Wisconsin

Autism Society of America
The Gray Center
The Play Project
Floor Time
Natural Environment Teaching
National Institute for Mental Health
Making Visuals
Tony Attwood
Wisconsin Children's Long-Term Support Waiver
Wisconsin Autism Insurance
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Autism Advocacy

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mentoring new teachers

One area of interest I have is the retention of highly qualified Early Childhood teachers. All too often I hear of excellent EC teachers leaving the field to go work for a school district or leave the field all together. I spend a lot of time wondering, "why?" I often get the response that this happens, "because of the money." While that may be true in the short run, I have a hard time believing that this gets to the heart of matter. There is quite a bit of research that indicates that people are really not any more happy because of money, as long as their basic needs are being met. When I think about how to retain teachers in the field, I think about all the reasons why I thought about leaving the field from time to time. . . .
  • My work load was too heavy
  • I was not receiving enough support at work
  • I did not feel valued
  • I did not know what I was getting into
  • I did not receive adequate training
I propose a method of addressing some of the above concerns might be the mentoring new teachers by experienced teachers. There is some research regarding this topic, however, not as much as I would like to see. Particularly, I have not discovered much for current (within the past four years) research in this area. In Wisconsin, teachers who pursue a DPI license, are paired with a mentor in order to hold their Initial Educator License. However, this is not required of E/C teachers in our state. Other states, such as California, New York, and Montana have mentoring program and could be used as a model for the state of Wisconsin.

Are you an E/C teacher who has been part of a mentoring program? Did you find it beneficial? If yes, why? If no, why?

Below are some links to Mentoring programs within Wisconsin School districts. Again, these are specific to elementary schools, not specific to preschool or childcare centers. However, they could certainly be used as a template if your preschool or child care center wishes to begin a mentoring program.

Keep playing,

Rachael :-)

New Teacher Mentor Handbook
Mentoring Teachers Course at UW-Stout
New Teacher Mentor Check List
New Teacher Center Wisconsin
Wisconsin New Teacher's Academy

Monday, November 23, 2009

Touch and Go (Reprint from Exchange Every Day)

Childcare Exchange has an e-mail newsletter chocked full of interesting tidbits. Below is one of the tidbits I received recently. I found it interesting especially since I recently presented on the topic of attachment, which touch is an important part of.

The following story of Tad Waddington appeared in Psychology Today (November 2009):

"Monkeys go nuts and die if they are not touched. Touch is critical for survival and well being, so we carried 'our little monkey' everywhere and learned that humans have a latent ability to do anything one-handed. Our son, now a teenager, continues to be what Californians call 'centered' and normal people call 'well adjusted.'"

Friday, November 20, 2009

Updates and Such

Wow--it has sure been a busy couple of weeks. I've returned from my trip to Hawaii with lots of motivation to work on my KAM and the courage to start my first statistics course in December. My new Head Start position has been really enjoyable. Today I had the opportunity to present to our lead teachers and family advocates information about the effects childhood trauma. I then went into a little bit of information regarding one of our screening tools, the DECA (which has been developed by the Devereux Early Childhood Initiative). Additionally I provided information about attachment and teacher-child relationships. Overall, I think it went okay. Our group of lead teachers can be a bit of a tough crowd, so I'm just happy folks weren't snoring away as I presented.

I'm quite excited because North Central Technical College has again asked me to present a variety of topics for continuing education. I even will be doing an Autism series at three of their sites. My hope is that my patience will pay off and I will get asked to teach a "for credit" class soon.

Finally, next week I'll be meeting with some staff to help plan for a child who has some extreme challenging behavior. I thought it might be nice to link to some of the resources that I shared with that staff person in hopes that you'll find them helpful also.

Functional Behavior Assessment
Functional Behavior Analysis
What Works Brief 9
What Works Brief 10
What Works Brief 11
Paul White Training
Becky Bailey's 10 'To-D0's' for Discipline
Using Conflicts as Teaching Moments
Using Daily Conflicts as Learning Opportunities