As a special education teacher at Bayless Elementary School in St. Louis, Missouri, Therese Shain holds students accountable for their own learning. Before each learning cycle, she works with students to define specific short-term learning goals. Grouped by skill level, students maintain learning folders with their objectives, graphics for monitoring learning percentages, long-term IEP goals, and learning strategies. At the end of the cycle, students complete a self-assessment and graph the results on both individual and group charts. The students study the results as a group and work together to make the changes needed, then create an action plan for the next learning cycle. Graphing days motivate students; showing their progress to visitors keeps them excited and engaged.
Shain, who is employed by the Special School District of St. Louis County, has taught at Bayless for a decade and enjoys great success working with students with challenging behavioral problems. She serves as a check-in and check-out mentor, meeting daily with students to review goals, remind them of success strategies, and bestow praise and encouragement. Shain includes students’ voices in the classroom, making them part of developing the mission, class rules, routines, academic goals and data charting process. She teaches a social skills group, as well as reading, writing and math groups. Shain’s students show great progress in all academic areas, meeting more than 90% of their reading goals, 80% of writing goals, and 80% of math.
Shain has served on the special education area leadership team, Positive Behavioral Intervention Strategies (PBIS) teams, school leadership team and professional development committee. She mentors new teachers and coaches colleagues through their behavior plans. She builds consensus effectively: When creating a new behavior plan, she gives the student choices, incorporates research-based strategies, and meets with both the classroom teacher and parents prior to implementing the plan. Shain communicates at least weekly with parents, keeping them up to date on their child’s progress, behavior issues and upcoming assignments.
Shain earned a bachelor’s in elementary and special education in 2004 from the University of Missouri, St. Louis and a master’s in educational counseling and psychology in 2007 from the University of Missouri, Columbia.
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