Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Are we in the Midst of a #Educator #SelfExpression Boom? / Is #Batman now in the building? #edchat #SpecialEducation

Is it wishful thinking that growth hacking executive function skills through ‘alternative’ methods work faster than pure ABA therapy when working with individuals on the autism spectrum?

Its not. 

Why do U.S. Special Education dollars in public schools get outsourced when talented Special Educators get paid next to nothing for their heart and soul sacrifice?

Does a hybrid instructional approach work better? What professional SHOULD be playing ‘point guard’ as the main expert in instructing students with disabilities like autism or ADHD? 

Over the last twenty years in U.S. public education their has been a seismic shift in Special Education. Special Educators have lost critical footing due to top-down educational decision-making that is disconnected from the actual teacher-student connection.

for example, having BCBA’s or ‘Board Certified Behavior Analyst’ as alternative Special Educators coming in to give additional expertise via the route of a very mainstream, well-known autism intervention instructional approach called applied behavioral analysis, or ABA Therapy with children on the autism spectrum. 

Over the last few years Universities with teacher programs have  been responding by emphasizing a hybrid model for teacher training which trains teachers in special education and regular education.  Schools like Fairfield University’s Graduate School of Education and Allied Professionals are doing cutting edge work in shaping instructional mindsets to be nimble and expansive, creative, critical, empathic… and with a deep understanding of how the brain works. 

A great deal of time is spent covering, discussing, writing and reflecting on executive function skill development, hemispheric interplay in the brain, feedback loops, how these play out across over a dozen disabilities, including autism. The training that these adults go through is rigorous and engaging, regardless of the university. Everyone there is there because they want to make a difference. They want to be #HotterThanFire for positive changes in the lives of a  growing mountain of new generations of people disabilities.

Then something strange happens….

Many, not all, but many get offered a salary of around $45,000 a year to work 45 hours a week doing what they love. After 20 years you get to make $100,000 a year… if you make it to 20.  

What the top-down board of education doesn’t tell the teacher is that they outflank and undermine Special Educators by making it a habit of continually outsourcing instructional expertise that completely overlaps with what Special Educators know and do. 

That money could be put to better use by growth hacking Special Educators entrepreneurial inclinations by offering frequent bonuses based on effective growth metrics connected to executive function skill and hemispheric development.

No disrespect to people who are BCBA’s. But please understand that Special Educators also do what you do. We also recognize that you are getting paid very well with Special Education dollars while many public school Special Educators have to deal with insulting 2-4% salary increments on an yearly basis. Special Educators don’t know how much better they can have it. Things are changing though. 

Forget waiting for policy wonks to acquiesce to altruistic idealism. I think Special Educators have to take the first steps and branch out from just public schools and institutions for work. We need to establish ourselves as private practices. You can do it. There is tremendous demand and its totally worth considering supplementing your income. You control the pace, you bring your tools and strategies. Your professional liberty is different. Its all performance-based. It’s fun and rewarding. It’s entrepreneurial and its daring. There is an art to to what we do.

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