About this blog

I am a high school human anatomy and physiology teacher by trade and I double as a mother of a little girl with Williams Syndrome. When my daughter was diagnosed, I was thankful that I understood how the body worked so I could navigate through the condition and understand what the doctors had to say. This is my way of sharing my knowledge so other parents can have that same power.

Information contained in this site is strictly for education purpose to better understand the conditions associated with Williams Syndrome. You should in no way use this site for diagnosis, treatment or medical guidance. Always seek medical advice from your doctor.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Back to School Tips for Teachers

Just this week I walked my daughter into her Kindergarten classroom to meet her new teacher.  This time of year brings me joy mixed with fear... definitely bittersweet.  I know Katie will thrive in her new school with her new team of teachers, therapists and aides, but part of me always worries about her.  I'm sure you can relate.  So, I challenge you to ask yourself- what can you do about that?  I hope your answer is the same as mine...I advocate for her.

In my own classroom I typically have 20+ students with IEPs and among them I've had very few parents reach out to me before the beginning of the school year.  But when they do, I immediately have an elevated level of respect and ambition to go out of my way to help them achieve their goals and needs!  Normally at the start of a new school year, it takes me time to get to know my students and identify their needs.  It takes me even longer to find the best solution to meet their needs.  Why not, as a parent who knows what our children need, help accelerate that by reaching out to teachers and giving them a toolkit of research based accommodations specific to your child?  By contacting your child's teacher you can share those resources so they can start the year with strategies and plans to help your child succeed from day one.  So, in this post, I'm sharing my WS toolkit with you.

In addition to the toolkit, I gave my daughter's teacher the bio I made called "All about Katie".  I used the bio last spring at her annual IEP.  It includes her picture, nickname, strengths, weaknesses, concerns and family goals.  I think that we often share these at IEP meetings but forget regular ed. teachers often don't get to see those.  They usually only receive a copy of the legal IEP at the beginning of the school year. 

A simple email establishing positive communication with your child's teachers will create a smoother transition to their new classroom.  Approach your new teacher with an open mind and be cognizant that they are extremely busy and stressed this time of year.  When I sent these materials I was mindful of how I worded my email to show that I respected their time and dedication to their students.  I kept it short explaining that I wanted to help them by providing resources that could act as an easy guide to help them solve problems that may come up as they get to know Katie and her needs.  They can also use them as a way to be proactive in her learning.  For example, it makes a teacher's job easier if they know if a child needs preferential seating or an audio book in advance so it can be available on day one.  Plus, opening up that communication breaks the ice and shows them that you have high expectations but that you are also part of the team and want to work with them in a collaborative fashion.

Below you will find my newest infographics that go along with topics I presented at the convention on visual-spatial issues followed by a collection of educational strategies that I learned about this summer.  Also I included a quick chart showing common behavioral challenges and social strategies that are common in children with WS. Following the infographic, you can find links to my other infographics and blog posts that are education centered and WSA resources that would benefit both a regular education and special education teacher.

I wish you and your children the best of luck in the new school year!  

Links to other infographics and resources I shared with my child's new classroom teachers:

If you find any of these infographics difficult to print, feel free to email me at mooniersarah@yahoo.com and I'll send you a pdf version.