Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Support Independence for Students with Vision Impairments with a Teacher Feedback Group

Graphic of the title, support independence for students with vision impairments with a teacher feedback group

Are you loving our mugshots? These are some of the awesome people on our team getting into our new teacher feedback group. Back story: we have some new teachers, veteran teachers and new staff that struggle with knowing when and how to step back to support our students with their independence. It's a common problem. It's often an unconscious problem. People don't realize how much they are impeding our students. My team has good intentions. They have hearts of gold and they work hard but we make the same mistake: impeding independence. 
I wanted to continue to give my team feedback but I didn't want it to feel punitive or create a negative environment. Giving citations is a popular strategy for students in general education. Sometimes they are called "speeding tickets". This inspired this idea!  

an image of the independence violation with the funny male police officer holding his hand out to stop
I wanted to do something that I could get teacher buy in with. I created the (above pictured) "independence violation". Teachers could observe each other and cite them when they are impeding independence of our students. We all know these offenses: carrying their books, helping them open containers, serving them food, getting them whatever and not making them get up---the list could go on and on. I needed us to get present about this hinderance. We aren't doing students ANY favors by doing so many things for them especially our students who are completely blind. They don't pick up on the incidental learning. They need all these little opportunities for independence.
Again, I wanted something that empowers teachers. Feedback for instruction helps with this. But it can go wrong if not handled the right way. People can be sensitive. Fortunately my staff and I have a collaborative environment and we support each other. But....I still wanted to have fun with this. Enter my funny officer and our mugshots! The team got where I was going with this and everyone jumped on board. 

a mugshot of a female teacher wearing sunglasses with a tough expression
Important: I didn't want to just do negative call outs or citations. I wanted teachers to develop to learn how to give meaningful feedback. I added a section to the citation ticket that says "rectify the offense". This allows us to shift from the violation to a solution. We created a bulletin board where we post our citations/solutions and once a month we get together and review them.
We have loved this idea and the positive outcomes are far reaching. Teachers are now going to be more aware of their interactions with students. Teachers will find new solutions for how to step back. Want a copy of my citation? Send me an email and I'm happy to share. Try this out with everyone--parents, teachers and paraprofessionals. We included everyone (even my secretary) on this! Anyone who has interactions with our students was included. We are hoping our feedback group will help us move from villains to heroes!