Working with young children to learn the skills they will need to succeed in school and life can be extremely rewarding. Many large school districts have specialists that help work with students who need extra help in areas and full-time special education teachers. Glendora Conant of Spring ISD talks about her career in education.
What does your current job entail?
“I teach life skills to K through fifth grade.”
What is your favorite part of your daily duties?
“Group time; where everyone gets to participate while I analyze what I need to work on.”
Do you feel your education prepared you for your current role?
“Yes. Sam Houston State University required a lot of community hours in the special education classrooms, group homes, etc. I even went to church with a group of older adults with down syndrome in a group home. By the time I had my own classroom, I knew exactly what I wanted in my classroom. While I was sent to do observations, I took notes of things I wanted to do and things I did not want to do in my classroom.”
Have you participated in any form of continuing education?
“Yes. Every opportunity given, I take classes in autism, life skills, applied behavior analysis, etc., that will further assist me in the classroom. When you attend seminars/trainings, there is always something to learn; other teachers share their experiences, solutions, etc.”
Do you have any advice for people wanting to pursue a similar career?
“All kids can learn. In special ed, there is never a one-size-fit-all way to teach the students. It is left to the teacher to determine the most effective way to teach the child. I think outside the box. One of my students was struggling with counting by fives, so I taught him how to play dominoes. To teach the meaning of holidays, I create short plays where the students become the characters. I teach responsibility by giving the kids jobs around the school, where they get paid with quarters and they can see the money grow on a chart. I use Education.com to obtain worksheets, and it’s a great resource. In many cases, these worksheets are homework.”
Gillian Kruse is a freelance writer living in Houston. She graduated from Rice University with a great love for all performing and visual arts. She enjoys writing about arts and cultural events, especially little-known ones, to help Houstonians learn about what’s going on in their city. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.