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Wanting to share student work, a teacher encounters obstacles

When her second-grade special education students produced a news broadcast about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Lizzie Hetzer wanted to share their work. After all, the project marked a welcome departure from the heavy focus on structure and routine that had defined the year, and her students had risen to the occasion admirably.

Sharing her enthusiasm wasn’t so easy. In the community section, Hetzer, who is moving from PS 12 in Brooklyn to PS 39 this fall, writes about what happened when she tried to find an audience for the news broadcast outside the school.

She writes:

I reached out to a few community news sources that expressed interest in featuring the broadcast. Sadly, my school administration did not support this move. It’s a shame that there seems to be so much red tape and so much fear of bad publicity that my special education students, even with parental support, cannot have the spotlight for a minute or so to share their good work.

Even so, the students now each have a copy of our DVD and the feeling of a job well done. All students need to know what it means to feel proud. Sadly, a special education classroom endures a lot of teasing and rejection throughout the year (by students and adults). One thing we special education teachers can absolutely, directly control is whether our students are exposed to high-quality instruction beyond the skill, drill, and control strategy.

It’s not against any rule for teachers and principals to share strong student work, particularly when parents have signed releases. Let us know if you want to showcase your students’ work in the GothamSchools community section.

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