Rethink Ed Spotlight Educator: Jean Lawson, Truman Elementary School (Springfield, MO)

Mrs. Jean Lawson

Ms. Lawson is a special education teacher at Truman Elementary School in Springfield, MO. Truman Elementary is a part of the Springfield Public School District, which is Missouri’s largest school district. Over 25,000 students attend 36 elementary schools, an intermediate school (grades 5 – 6), nine middle schools, five high schools, Phelps Center for Gifted Education, and 2 early childhood centers! Out of all the teachers at those schools, Ms. Lawson has been awarded Springfield’s Teacher of The Year 2018-19!

Classroom Cafe Cart

We are honored to celebrate with Ms. Lawson and feature her as a Rethink Ed Spotlight Educator. Ms. Lawson has successfully implemented Rethink Ed into her daily classroom activities. For example, she uses Rethink resources and data tracking to help her students meet their goals. These resources help create obtainable targets because she can break down a student’s goal into smaller, more achievable tasks.

“Skills we learn are practiced through authentic experiences. I believe in providing authentic experiences to bring learning into the real world. Math and social skills are used in cooking and selling snacks to teachers on our Rolling Café.”

Ms. Lawson also loves using the Rethink motivation boards from the resources section. In the photo below, you can see some of her students making pizza. When a student meets a goal or completes an assignment, they receive another pizza topping until they have made a finished pie! Ms. Lawson has seen great progress and success using these motivation boards. She found that many students,

Baking Pizza and cookies!

“who have been reluctant to do nonpreferred work, willingly work. The positive association with the table work has crossed over to other times where they will willingly work and not use the motivation boards. That’s success!”

With the ability to record, track, and analyze student data, Rethink helps Ms. Lawson promote the success of her students. We are honored to partner with Ms. Lawson and Springfield Public School District and we look forward to continuing to inspire hope and power potential.

Mrs. Lawson and her staff (along with Santa and an elf). This includes Mrs. Lawson and her other autism teacher (in the green on the right), Phoebe Ezell; and our 6 paras. A couple of them also work with students on their goals, collect and enter data on Rethink.

Spotlight Educator of the Month: Joanna Cunningham

Spotlight Educator of the Month!

Position: Special Education Preschool Teacher
District: Shelby County Schools in Memphis, TN

Joanna Cunningham is a Special Education Preschool Teacher at Shelby County Schools in Memphis, TN. Shelby County Schools serves approximately 26,000 special education students and has an instruction force of more than 1,000 professionals. Rethink Ed’s platform, especially its data collection and professional development, the ABA training series, supports Ms. Cunningham every day in her classroom.

Rethink Ed is a valuable tool for creating IEP goals, collecting student data, lessons, and professional development. The platform assists Ms. Cunningham in developing student plans and goals. It helps her to “think through exactly what I want my students to be able to do at the end of the IEP and to ensure I’m collecting the data in the correct way. The lessons help ensure I’m delivering consistent instruction to meet these goals.” Confidently, Ms. Cunningham knows that her students are on the right path and working towards their goals.

Data collection is tricky. Often, we think we know exactly what we are collecting data on and why, only to discover that it was the wrong approach. But with Rethink Ed, Ms. Cunningham found that it “helped me look more closely at the way I’m collecting data, what I’m measuring, and to be more granular about it. By doing this, my students are benefiting from better instruction and quicker course correction (if needed).” She can work closely with her students and team to visually see where they need to focus.

Ms. Cunningham has noticed a marked difference and improvement in her students as well as with her team of teachers. The ABA series basic training has, “reconfirmed the education I have had in working with challenging behaviors and is helping me train my team to ensure we are carrying out behavioral interventions with fidelity.” They do this by independently going through the online modules and then discussing how they can better serve their students.

This is just the beginning of Ms. Cunningham’s and her team’s Rethink Ed Success. She is excited to continue to utilize Rethink Ed in her classroom and continue to track student data. She knows that this platform will assist with IEP teams going forward and is excited to “look back and see where the student has been and how far they have come.” Ms. Cunningham is ready to jump into spring with Rethink Ed at her side!

Congratulations, on being featured as our Spotlight Educator. We look forward to continuing to hear about your success with Rethink Ed.

Rethink Ed Spotlight Educator of the Month: Ola Minxhozi

Position: Therapist, Team-Leader

District: Regional Center for Autism, Tirana

Ola Minxhozi is a therapist and team leader at the Regional Center for Autism in Tirana, Albania. Over the course of two years, she and her team have integrated Rethink Ed into their teaching practices and its use has helped them in a variety of ways.

Rethink Ed has helped them address problem behaviors, streamline the data collection process, and easily track progress. She described the training process as gradually introducing different features of the platform while setting aside time for individual exploration of Rethink Ed. “It was helpful for each one of us to use Rethink Ed’s materials and watch videos on how to use the program,” Ms. Minxhozi said. She also pinpointed the model student on the platform as a very helpful tool as it allowed staff to do trial runs with various aspects of Rethink Ed without altering any real data.

To Ms. Minxhozi, one of the most valuable aspects of Rethink Ed is its recognition that each student learns differently and has strengths and weaknesses specific to them; therefore, the program allows the instructor to assess the student’s abilities first and then recommends lessons that are appropriate for the student’s skill level. For additional support, “the learning plan gives other suggestions, helpful hints, and error correction only to better help the student in the process of learning.” Rethink Ed also allows the staff to save time when preparing for lessons by providing relevant materials and instructional videos with each lesson.

Ms. Minxhozi also highlighted the behavior support the platform offers as a feature from which she and her team have greatly benefitted. She recalled a particular student who would consistently run away from work area; guided by Rethink Ed’s steps for intervention, she was able to identify the functions of the behavior, which were to escape and to get the teacher’s attention. She chose from suggested behavior replacements that would work best for the student and reported that four weeks later, the problem behavior had significantly reduced.

“Working with children with special needs or children in autism spectrum disorder is as beautiful as it is challenging,” said Ms. Minxhozi. She cites “finding the best ways to help students to develop their abilities and potential” as the most challenging part of their jobs and by making a wide range of comprehensive resources easily accessible, Rethink Ed has helped make that process easier. At the Regional Center for Autism in Tirana, they are excited to continue incorporating Rethink Ed into their daily teaching practices and benefiting from all the helpful tools the platform offers.

Spotlight Educator of the Month: Debra Pearce

Position: Principal of Tanglewood Regional School

District: Prince George’s County Public School District (Clinton, MD)

Debra Pearce is the principal of Tanglewood Regional School in Prince George’s County Public School District (Clinton, MD). As a school Principal (and former district-level administrator), she is tasked daily with professional development, use of best practices and monitoring, and evaluation of student progress and staff competency. The Rethink Ed program enables her to complete these tasks through a single portal. She is the first principal to complete Rethink Ed’s Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) Advanced Training Course!

Debra Pearce, Principal

Rethink Ed supports her administrative professional needs as well as her teachers’ needs. She has learned the program alongside her staff, which has benefited her because she is able to “talk the language” of the program. She says, “Being able to answer questions about the program and to coach staff in the use of the program and tools supports our culture of learning throughout the school.  The use of technology as a tool is also domain for our administrative evaluation.” Having completed the training, she is able to discuss Rethink Ed with her staff and understand the intricacies of the program. She has also found that her use of the platform encourages and facilitates the use of Rethink Ed in the building.

For special educators, Rethink Ed is a ready resource for classroom programming, data collection, professional development, and parent training. Ms. Pearce asserts that having these features in one platform helps her staff “work smarter, not harder” and “allows them to feel confident in their instruction.” Rethink Ed’s platform supports her administration through data collection, lesson planning, and professional development.

Office board display awarding pin to staff for completing Rethink Basic Training series. Leading by. Example is part of our school theme of COMPASS.

The two most valuable aspects of the Rethink Ed program for Ms. Pearce and her administration are the data collection components and professional development. Data collection is becoming increasingly important for all educators, especially those in special education. It is important that people can track, record, and show visual representations of data in the classroom. Teachers use Rethink Ed to track IEP goals, collect data, and develop IEPs that are tailored to fit the needs of the student. Ms. Pearce says, “Special education teachers are under an incredible amount of scrutiny when it comes to data review.  Having a tool like Rethink Ed allows teachers and support staff to collect and share data that is professionally formatted and is defensible.” Teachers have benefited from Rethink Ed’s data tracking as well as the platform’s professional development training.

Teachers learned about preference assessments and created motivation boards using the results of the preference assessments. Students choose what they want to work for throughout the day. This is from a total classroom display.

Rethink Ed’s online, on-demand professional training allows access to ABA training in schools that do not have district employed BCBAs. The training modules are aligned with the BACB outcomes and the Rethink Ed certificates are an important piece of documentation that supports teacher and administrator portfolios. Ms. Pearce says that as a principal, it is great to know that “Staff can access Rethink from anywhere at any time for initial and for refresher training.” She also states that Rethink Ed’s training courses are beneficial to students as well as teachers because “our students benefit from ABA practices while we are building our school system capacity to have access to BCBA staff.” Teachers and students are both reaping the benefits of Rethink Ed in Prince George’s County Public School District.

“It is our hope that as we continue to use Rethink Ed with all of our students, our communication of progress will further support our parents as partners.” She has been successful so far at working with parents and making them partners. Ms. Pearce is excited to continue to use Rethink Ed and jump into the new school year!

Rethink Ed Spotlight Paraprofessional of the Month: Clifton G. Jones III

Position: Paraprofessional Educator

District: Prince George’s County Public Schools (Maryland)

Mr. Jones Paraprofessional Educator at Prince George’s County Public Schools

Clifton G. Jones III is a Paraprofessional Educator at Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland. He has used Rethink Ed in his classroom for the last two years, and it has become part of the classroom’s daily schedule. He considers Rethink Ed as a “great resource for staff at the school.”

 

Mr. Jones uses Rethink Ed to help with Individual Education Plans (IEP) goals, objectives and data collection. For paraprofessionals, the program is helpful when working with special needs students because of its detailed information pertaining to goals and objectives which help in producing positive outcomes in students. Also, Rethink Ed improves the teaching of new skills. When one of Mr. Jones’ students was not progressing in a newly presented skill, he was able to compare his own lesson plans and materials to Rethink Ed’s materials and gain new ways to implement the lessons and support the student.

“(I would) just document the behavior, the setting, time of day and the frequency of the behavior,” Mr. Jones states of his tactics, before using Rethink Ed. Now, Mr. Jones documents all the same things as before but also focuses on what happens before and after the behavior, as well as the possible function for it. Understanding the problem behavior allows him to implement strategies to reduce it.

The Rethink Ed Basic and Advanced Training series is the most valuable aspect of the program for Mr. Jones and his classroom. The training series has helped him prepare for the Registered Behavior Technician Exam (RBT), and has taught him how to use the skill of reinforcing to motivate students and increase their instructional participation. Excited to pursue his RBT Certification, Mr. Jones believes, “the basic and advanced ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) training’s are great for professional growth and development.”

Mr. Jones with his Students

Rethink Ed has helped Mr. Jones realize the necessity of the RBT certification for his future career development. He trusts that the certification will help “paraprofessionals to articulate what we do in the classroom when working with our students with special needs and how we teach and help them to learn and progress with new skills.” Rethink Ed has also taught Mr. Jones the necessary terminology to help explain exactly how he supports his students in the classroom.

Rethink Ed has proven to assist Mr. Jones in his role as a paraprofessional, and it will continue to support him in the next stages of his career.

Rethink Ed Spotlight Teacher of the Month: Colleen Washburn

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Position: Primary Autism Center Program Teacher
District: Denver Public Schools, Denver, CO

Colleen Washburn is a Primary Autism Center Program teacher in the Denver Public School District in Denver, Colorado. Denver Public Schools is the largest school district in Colorado and is one of the fastest growing districts in the nation.

One of the biggest challenges as a teacher is consistently tracking and understanding data, managing behavior, and collaborating with other paraprofessionals and teachers. However, Ms. Washburn has found that with Rethink Ed she is able to “keep up with extensive data collection and use this data to guide effective student behavioral interventions.” Over the past two years, Ms. Washburn has successfully used Rethink Ed in her classroom.

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Ms. Washburn’s Classroom

Daily, Ms. Washburn uses the Rethink Ed platform as her primary classroom autism center program. It has been incorporated in her daily behavior tracking routine for various students within the program. This data is used to create and supplement behavior plans, as well as guide the use of interventions. The data created through the Rethink Program has also allowed her to supplement IEP’s with easy to understand information for parents. This helps strengthen communication with parents because she is able to show them concrete data in the form of graphs and charts.

She began using the program with only a few select students however she quickly realized the benefits of the program like downloadable data charts and consistent data tracking on the Rethink Ed App. Now, she uses it for her entire teaching caseload and is able “to track the effectiveness of strategies, as well as determine a pattern for student behavior.” Over the past year Ms. Washburn has implemented several different Rethink Ed strategies for her students in order to find optimal behavior plans. She has even seen the beginning stages of positive changes in student’s behavior!

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Classroom Coffee Cart Business

Together, Ms. Washburn and her paraprofessionals utilize Rethink Ed to track behavioral data in the classroom. She says the ability to work with her paraprofessionals and track the effectiveness of behavioral interventions implemented in the classroom is the most valuable aspect of Rethink. Collaboration using the Rethink Ed platform allows data collection to be taken in various settings and by various individuals ensuring that students are appropriately generalizing skills. They do this by utilizing the Rethink Ed App on the iPad. The App allows them to easily collect data, continuously review data to see progress, and quickly see if an intervention is not supporting a student’s need. Rethink Ed has helped support student learning and engagement in the classroom.

Online training videos have taught Ms. Washburn and her paraprofessionals how to use, implement, and understand the program. Prior to Rethink Ed she and her paraprofessionals had difficulty organizing data and taking it with fidelity. The Rethink Ed App supports Ms. Washburn and her paraprofessionals with real-time data collection including numerous behaviors for several students. It allows them to take ownership of data collection and helps to provide a better picture of the students’ progress throughout the entire day. Rethink Ed resources and strategies continue to support Ms. Washburn and her classroom allowing her to focus more on what she loves—molding students’ lives.

Rethink Ed Spotlight Teacher of the Month: Tracy Shellooe

Position: Special Education Teacher                                                                                    District: Denver Public Schools, Denver, CO

Tracy Shellooe is a Special Education Teacher at Oakland Elementary in the Denver Public Schools in Denver, CO.  Oakland is one of 93 elementary schools in the district and is a Title I school with about 400 students and is what Ms. Shellooe describes as “a great school” with a team of professionals who “all work really hard to get students and families involved.”

Ms. Shellooe started her education career as a paraprofessional about 8 years ago where she worked in a worked in a high school.  She “fell in love with it and decided to go back to school to get (her) Master’s.”  She has been working with children with autism for 5 years now and is teaching a 1st through 5th grade class with 11 students. She has quite the range of abilities and developmental levels in her classroom.  She is a passionate teacher who loves her students and is motivated to be a big part of “helping them to gain a voice, help the kids grow reach their potential.”

Teaching such a large class with such a range of skills has “been a big challenge” particularly at the beginning of the year when the children must adjust to each other and the new learning environment. During this initial phase the educational team must also identify the areas of need for each student.  Ms. Shellooe has been using RethinkEd for 5 years and she relies on it heavily for tracking data in her classroom.  She uses it for herself, her paraprofessionals, and parents to “see which interventions are working.”  The Antecedent-Behavior-Consequence (ABC) data is one of her favorite pieces of the RethinkEd tool.  She states that the “ABC graphs are really great for (her) staff” and that the data “are really clear” to look at.  She bases a lot of her goals for her students based on RethinkEd goals.  She feels that “the wording is nice, and it makes it more cohesive when working on goals.”

In her classroom, they use a lot of the RethinkEd lesson plans as well as the data sheets and materials.  One specific lesson plan that she has used recently is one for tying shoes.  She likes how RethinkEd demonstrates how to start with hand over hand and then fade out prompts.  To help her paraprofessionals implement RethinkEd lesson plans, she has them watch the RethinkEd training modules and this helps them to increase their independence and help make the classroom run smoothly.

In Ms. Shellooe’s class, she has “really great parents” who are involved and work with her as a team on their child’s goals.  She uses the data and graphs from RethinkEd to show parents the progress that their child is making and what they need to work on.  She thinks that RethinkEd is particularly valuable for “setting up behavior plans with parents and being able to show them the graphs.”  She states that “it’s so much more visual for them” and some parents even “use it with home providers” or use it when “other evaluations are being done.”

The most important part of RethinkEd to Ms. Shellooe is the value that it brings to the students.  She has the children work in centers throughout the day and uses RethinkEd for many of the lesson plans.  She also engages children in RethinkEd directly by having them complete online lessons in the RethinkEd A
ctivity Center.  She says that the students “love it” and that these online activities allow them to work independently and keeps them engaged.  She likes how data is automatically collected and how the students “get excited because the system cheers them on.”  She also really likes the resources, such as the token boards, which seem to work well to motivate many students.

The system that “easy to navigate” and the time it saves for Ms. Shellooe is important to her, but, even more important is the improved quality of instruction and data collection that she sees directly benefiting her paraprofessionals, students, and parents.  RethinkEd has been “very helpful” for her and she is looking forward to continuing to use it with her students.

Spotlight Teacher of the Month: Tracy Niccum

Position: Special Education Life Skills Teacher
District: School District of Washington, Missouri

Ms. Niccum is a Special Education Teacher from Washington West Elementary School.  Washington West is one of seven elementary schools in the School District of Washington in Washington, Missouri. Ms. Niccum educates students in grades 2 through 6 and has used the Rethink platform for two years.

As a second-year teacher, Ms. Niccum was initially hesitant to implement Rethink with all the work teachers are required to do during the year. So she started small.

“I focused on one or two students and realized I could link their behavioral plans and Individualized Education Program goals to Rethink,” Ms. Niccum said. Once she learned how Rethink could improve her classroom, she started using it more.

Ms. Niccum now uses Rethink regularly and said she feels “The most valuable aspect of Rethink is the ability to collect data and link Individualized Education Program goals and behavioral plans to the platform.”

One of the toughest challenges for Ms. Niccum as a teacher is improving her data collection process and encouraging student independence within the classroom.

“Data collection is a huge part of education and when you have a self-contained classroom, it can be very overwhelming,” said Ms. Niccum.

Rethink’s easy-to-use platform makes it seamless, said Ms. Niccum, with printable data collection sheets, graphs and summary reports. Rethink webinars and on-site visits provide her with the extra support she needs to implement individual schedules for students and help them succeed.

Her students also use the Activity Center to practice specific skills that align with
their IEPs. One of Ms. Niccum’s students uses the Activity Center twice a week and takes the lead setting up her own schedule on the platform, which she enjoys.

Ms. Niccum regularly selects different math and reading activities for her student to complete that align with her student’s IEP goals and the curriculum she teaches.

This integration, Ms. Niccum said, makes it easier to track progress and is important because teachers “have to be able to show student growth on IEP goals.” Teachers in her district must also indicate how students are improving on each goal at the end of every quarter.

The process can be riddled with paperwork, but Ms. Niccum said Rethink makes it much more manageable for paraprofessionals and teachers at her school.

Ms. Niccum on tracking student progress and IEP goals using the Rethink IEP builder

“The most valuable aspect of Rethink is the ability to collect data and link IEP and behavioral plans to the platform.”

Ms. Niccum said she plans to implement Rethink programs and activities for all her students so she can track student progress and IEP goals in the most effective way.

She hopes other teachers and principals consider subject areas in their schools that need improvement and discover how Rethink can help them. Ms. Niccum also believes that Rethink is especially valuable to special educators.

“We are always looking for ways to reduce the abundance of paperwork we have to do on a daily basis,” Ms. Niccum said. “The process goes much quicker when you can just click a button and pull up all the data. It’s all right there.”

Keep up the fantastic work, Ms. Niccum! Congratulations on being this month’s Spotlight Teacher!