Last week I attended the MidSchoolMath conference here in Atlanta. That was a first for me, a Special Education Teacher. I was both excited and nervous as I sat through the conference, surrounded by Math teachers and professors of Math Education.
As I listened to the guest speakers and conversations around me, some things became clear. First and foremost, I am a Math Teacher; I need to get used to identifying as such. I often tell people that I teach Math, instead of saying I am a Math Teacher. Why? Well, I also teach Science; however, I teach in both content areas because I am a Special Education Teacher. That has been my identity for so long that I have sold myself short. Now I am wondering: Do other Special Education Teachers feel the same way?
Obvious to me was the lack of representation of Special Education Teachers. There were two others in attendance and I was excited to connect with them. But, here’s my concern: Are schools and districts sending their Special Education Teachers to content-specific conferences? How often do professional development directors consider the benefits of content-area conferences for Co-Teachers? Do content-area teachers invite their Special Education colleagues to conferences? These are just a few of the questions I considered when I weighed the benefits of this conference. Not only will Special Education Teachers improve their content knowledge, but their General Education counterparts gain a colleague who is both confident in their ability to teach the content and comfortable teaching it. Ultimately, this would be most beneficial to the students in those Co-Taught classrooms.
The MidSchoolMath Conference was a much-needed experience for me. I learned so much about how I view my own creativity, leveraging it in the Math classroom, and making lessons more learner-focused and challenging. I can honestly say I gained more than I gave as a volunteer and I am forever grateful for the opportunity. I plan to write a few more posts related to MidSchoolMath after I’ve had time to review the curriculum sample I received. To learn more about MidSchoolMath and their annual conference in New Mexico, visit their site. I just might see you there!