Why This Topic?
This project is the culmination of my time here at Vanderbilt University. When I began my first year of teaching, I did not understand how wholly unprepared I was to support students with disabilities. I came from a top rated education program in my state, but the only preparation I had to teach special education was a Introduction to Students with Exceptionalities class. I got a wonderful content knowledge education in my undergraduate program and I was a well-prepared general education teacher. However, when I began my first year of teaching, I quickly drowned. I didn’t know how to collect data, how to make data-based decisions or evidence-based practices for supporting students with disabilities.
When I came to Vanderbilt, I wanted to be the best possible special education teacher that I could be. I could not have made a better decision both for my students and my own knowledge base. Through being in the High Incidence Program masters program, I have truly become the best special education teacher I can be. I have learned about research, how to understand quality versus quantity and how to apply research to select practices to support my students. I have learned all about data-based individualization and criterion-based measurement and how the combination of these two practices exponentially increases the outcome for students. I have learned how explicit and systematic teaching can uplift my practice as an educator and how each of the elements of explicit instruction are supported by research. I have learned about resources to support me as an educator, to access research, to drive my application of evidence-based practices and resources for implementing DBI and CBE.
The best thing about this program, are the professors and researchers who are dedicated to students with disabilities and the teachers who support them. My life has been impacted by these amazing individuals, there commitment to the field and their dedication to me as a teacher. This project is for them. This project is about taking their exceptional work and putting in the hands of teachers.
From the bottom of my heart I thank every professor and staff member who has impacted my time here at Vanderbilt. You truly have prepared me to be the best special education teacher I can be.