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 Activity 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.