2020 Teacher of the Year Visits SBE
2020 Teacher of the Year, Amy Campbell visited SBE during a lunch-time session at the November Board meeting and shared her expertise and experience teaching students in special education at Helen Baller Elementary School (Camas School District). Amy believes all children can learn, and to achieve her vision of academic success for all, she implements innovative strategies geared toward students' strengths. She develops ways, through collaboration with general education teachers, to integrate her students into their communities. She believes in the power of inclusion when everyone can participate in learning together and experience diversity as an asset.
"I had a student who had autism and very profound impacts from disabilities...we didn't have a problem with achievement, we had a problem with opportunity. Every day, I am having to truly see their [students] potential and I need them to see their potential and I need to be an innovater. If I can find these ways, and I can collaborate with my general education teachers, and we can have conversations not about what they can't do, and find ways to include and see the growth of the community..."
During her session, she talked about the experiences of some of her students and their families during remote and hybrid learning (due to the COVID-19 pandemic).
"We do not like the pandemic. The pandemic is bad, but…SEL has been prioritized…and often times we’re doing pre-recorded lessons, my students love that because they can watch the video over and over, slow it down, speed it up, they control the place and space."
Amy was sure to acknowledge that some students and educators are struggling, but she is finding new ways to engage kids in rigorous content.
"I have some kids in person, some kids in Zoom, I do video lessons, we're getting pretty good at that. I am much more engaged with my families. I have always had strong connections with my families. I am much more engaged with my families than ever before."
Amy told a story of family engagement success, even when it can be difficult with online education.
"I know it can be stressful to have families, you know, in your Zoom meetings, because you're being watched...but I am teaching students, and I am also teaching parents how to utilize strategies that are effective for supporting behavior, supporting communication, for supporting academic instruction, and building community for families...I have a student that has a head switch, and we worked together to get the head switch to work to play the pledge of allegiance and everyone is waiting in Zoom and it's taking quite a while, there’s technical problems, mom’s trying to figure it out, grandma’s trying to figure it out, and we’re cheering…at one point the mom says ‘it’s not working, just keep going.’ And I am like ‘no, we have plenty of time, let’s do this.’ It takes a little bit longer, but then he gets it. It plays the pledge and all my kids are excited to hear it, and it plays the school pledge and we’re all excited. We’re cheering for the student, but also, I’m like ‘yay mom, you got it!’ And off screen, here come all the other family hands clapping and thumbs upping because they know the struggle too. My families live in isolation often times. If students are segregated, families are segregated. How do we build community? Of course, it’s stressful to be on the screen, but I am building community sideways, and up-ways, and down-ways…that’s my day.”
In one of her final points, Amy spoke to the importance of having administration support and educator voice in decision-making for students.
"In my situation, it has helped to have administration that ensures that there is a place and a space for special education teacher voice and experience, and it’s intentional...special education teachers and general education, paraprofessionals, I try to just say all as ‘educators.’ We end up imagining different things, and yes, I have a different skillset and ways to support students, but my contribution can build an overall better system."
Special thanks to Amy for her words and inspiration! Watch the full segment on TVW and learn more about Amy's background on a previous SBE blog post.