Edgartown Impact: Interview with Kiely, Special Ed Teacher

In Edgartown Massachusetts there’s a special education teacher named Kiely who is finishing her 3rd year teaching the NoticeAbility Entrepreneurs & Innovators course to 7th and 8th grade students in her pull-out sessions. We caught up with her right before the end of the school year.

NoticeAbility: Thank you for making time to talk. Could you please tell us how the NoticeAbility coursework supports the learning objectives you are trying to meet?

Kiely: I work with students with dyslexia, ADHD, trauma, anxiety, and autism to develop the skills they need. To be able to navigate their days in school, they need practice with collaboration (group work), executive functioning skills (planning, organizing, and completing tasks), and mindfulness (emotional regulation and self-management). By providing time to teach these skills, students in my NoticeAbility class are better equipped to operate in the general education setting with greater confidence and success.

I can’t say how important it is that this is also a curriculum that students feel invested in. The creations that the Entrepreneurs & Innovators course prompts students to come up with are not centered around a money making design or something. The soul of NoticeAbility is child based, it is made from their experience and it relates to them. In my 20 years teaching I’ve learned you can't fool children, they see right through you. Students who come in contact with NoticeAbility feel how it relates to them. And when children are invested in they rise. They rise in all areas of development.

A last point: the course content is a preview or review of the STEM content goals that my students already have listed in their plans. So it really does fit and help my students reach their content and skills goals.

NoticeAbility: Your students have to do lots of repetitive decoding and literacy practice.  How does NoticeAbility help you as a teacher with that?

Kiely: Yes, we have lots of time for that in my classroom. What I see is that NoticeAbility coursework taps into the student’s strengths, and offers them a space to be relaxed and see success. They see that they matter. That carries over into the time we spend reading. I can say “Yes, this is really hard, but look at what you just did before. You were the group leader. You came up with a marketing slogan. You did a great presentation about your invention.” So it helps them with motivation and perseverance, as they practice strategies to overcome their challenges, to also pull from their strengths.

NoticeAbility: What do you say for the students in the class who don’t identify as dyslexic?

Kiely: Here’s what I say. Yes, NoticeAbility coursework focuses on dyslexia. You hear the word, and it pertains to some of you, and some not. But the skills and strategies you practice also apply if you have ADHD or another SLD (specific learning disability). There’s no perfect language always, and the coursework is useful anyway. Here’s an example: we have an autism awareness program at the school, and we say: “This workshop may pertain to you, or some of your peers, but it’s good to understand how this works and what you can learn from it.”  In my experience, if I say it that way, the students just go with it, and they find it’s useful to them.

NoticeAbility: So how does it fit logistically?

Kiely: I know it’s designed to be delivered twice a week for 10 weeks, but I do it Thursdays, once a week, for an hour. Then with all the interruptions - vacations, weather, fire alarms - it ends up taking me all year. But that’s fine. I show the videos to the whole class as a group, we talk through them, and then do the small group work. The students videotape their pitch presentations at the end of the year. Then I fill out my teacher supply list request form and make sure the assistant superintendent for curriculum knows that I want to have another 20 students go through the program again next year.

NoticeAbility: That sounds like a plan. Thank you! And have a great summer!

Kiely: Thank you!