School District: Clinton School District, Arkansas
Position: Self-Contained Classroom Teacher
6 years ago Scarlet Belonie went to her administrator in tears. She was growing increasingly frustrated at the lack of tools and resources she needed to really make an impact on her students and was considering leaving her role as a self-contained special education teacher. “I just didn’t have peace of mind that what I was doing was working,” said Scarlet. While she was seeing some students thrive, there were others that she just couldn’t seem to reach.
That summer, Scarlet and Deb Swink, the Special Education Supervisor at Clinton found out about Rethink. They were interested in the program for several reasons, including the standards-aligned curriculum, the video demonstrations, and the data collection tools. Scarlet hoped Rethink might be the key to turning things around in her classroom.
Since Scarlet began using Rethink 6 years ago, she has seen a major transformation in her students, her paraprofessional staff, and her own instructional practice. She now uses Rethink lessons as the core curriculum in her classroom. Her paraprofessionals teach in a rotation schedule, each focusing on one content area (ie. academics, receptive language, daily living etc.). The students rotate to different stations where the paraprofessionals teach them skills using Rethink lessons and materials.
In addition to the Rethink lessons, Scarlet regularly utilizes the Student Activity Center in her classroom. Twice a week students will complete activities on the Student Activity Center pertaining to what they are learning from the paraprofessionals in the teaching stations. Scarlet and her classroom team will then use the data from the Activity Center to evaluate whether students are generalizing the skills they are learning in the classroom.
“The data I receive from Rethink is extremely valuable,” Scarlet said. She uses it to track progress for every student and to determine whether a lesson is appropriate for a given student’s level. She also uses the Rethink data at Parent/Teacher Conferences and to demonstrate whether or not a student needs to attend Extended School Year.
“Rethink changed the whole dynamic of my classroom by providing consistency between myself and my paras in regards to how we are teaching our students.”
Seeing students progress and achieve is the greatest indicator of Rethink’s success in Scarlet’s classroom. One little boy came into her classroom a few years ago and was completely non-verbal. For the first 2-3 months of the school year Scarlet and her team used gestures to communicate with him. As the months went by he became more and more comfortable in the classroom and began to come out of his shell. “One particular day this little guy decided in his mind that it was time to talk and he looked at my paraprofessional, Anna, and said, ‘Anna! I want to talk! Anna!’ All the work Scarlet and her team had done using Rethink to enhance his communications skills and confidence over those months truly paid off. This student went from being a non-verbal student in Scarlet’s self-contained classroom to a student who speaks and interacts with his teachers and peers and is now included in the general education classroom for certain activities.
Keep up the great work, Scarlet!