Leading Special Education in a Positive Culture

It seems that I learn something new everyday. Today I was able to help and then reflect on what happened.

I was able to reassure one of my students that his disability was not going to hinder him from pursuing his dreams in the future. This same student last year told me he would never do well in math. After working with him for two years he now has a 90 in math.

What I realized was that we need to lead at times from a positive stance. To be reassuring to the students and praise them when they turn things around.

I have seen students with severe behavior problems turn their years around using restorative discipline. Something that is kicked around at schools but never truly implemented. I have seen schools have close to 500 suspensions in a year. I think we ended up with maybe 30 by the year end.

I have noticed I get much better response and work from my special education students when I approach them through a disciplined yet positive nature. As I am writing this I’m thinking of all the coaches I had throughout my years. Their were some who I did not want to play for, then there were those that I wanted to run through a brick wall for.

In education I want my students to trust me in a way that they know I am going to do everything in my power to help them succeed. Of course we won’t be running through any brick walls at the moment but I do notice they care more for their education and take responsibility when they know they have someone on their team.

There is growing appreciation that school climate—the quality and character of school life—fosters children’s development, learning and achievement. School climate is based on the patterns of people’s experiences of school life; it reflects the norms, goals, values, interpersonal relationships, teaching, learning and leadership practices, and organizational structures that comprise school life. The increased attention to school climate reflects both the concern for improving schools and the need for preparing students to address the myriad of challenges they will face in the 21st century.

School climate Standards

The Pennsylvania State University and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation research brief stated: “The goal of education is to prepare students—academically, socially, and emotionally—for success, now and in the future. More specifically, the goal is to help every student reach his or her own full potential—consistent with his or her own personal interests and aspirations—and to interact well with others.”

We have been good with the three “R’s” but not always very good with the SEL portion. I have learned after my years in education and now in special education that I get a lot further with my students when I can lead from a positive culture. Highlight the positive and work on the deficits.

For me, I think it pays dividends to lead from a positive and respectful mentality when it comes to our students.

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