Meet Sasha Long: She’s a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) with a Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology and a Bachelor’s in Special Education from Miami University of Ohio.
She’s also a classroom teacher, Teacher-Blogger, Teacher-Author, wife, and new mom (welcome Audrey Kathryn!). We feel honored that she took time out of her very busy schedule to share some exciting insights into what it means to be a special education teacher in middle school today.
1. You teach 10-14 year olds in a self-contained classroom and say that each student’s curriculum is developed specifically for him/her, based on his/her individual IEP. This seems like a HUGE job for one teacher. Tell us a little more about what your classroom and day look like.
Yes, it does feel like a huge job for one teacher! I spent most of my first year of teaching feeling completely freaked out. But once I got organized and learned to tackle one obstacle at a time, it all started to come together. I teach 13 students with a wide range of skills and abilities, and they’re with me (more or less) for the entire school day. The key to managing a classroom like this is organization, having loads of resources, and maintaining a great relationship with your staff!
2. Can you share an example of an area or subject you’ve struggled with when teaching your students? What are some of the TpT resources you’ve created that have significantly helped?
Since my classroom has students on so many different levels, I really struggled with having academic materials that were appropriately differentiated. Traditional textbooks and curriculum don’t quite fit the needs of my diverse group. My favorite resources that I created to help with this issue are my Language Arts and Math Daily Leveled Curriculums. These labors of love took me hours and hours and hours to create but are beyond lifesavers in my classroom. These resources provide academic material that is appropriate for all learners in my classroom. My curriculum is completely planned for the entire year. These are an absolute game changer!
3. What made you decide to teach students with autism?
I’ve been interested in being a special education teacher ever since high school. In college, I traveled to Peru and Tanzania to do volunteer work in special education schools. I fell in love with the children in both locations, and the work I was able to do with them really inspired me! It solidified my drive to go into special education, and I haven’t looked back!
4. What are some things teachers can start doing today to help bring autism awareness into the classroom?
With the increase in the autism diagnosis, it’s more important than ever to bring autism awareness to every classroom. Teachers shouldn’t shy away from engaging their students in meaningful discussions about autism acceptance. We should teach our students how they can help their peers with autism feel more welcome and comfortable in their school and community. I love sharing my Autism Awareness Unit with schools for a great way to teach the whole school about autism in an interactive way!
5. Tell us more about you, Sasha. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not teaching and helping kids?
Right now, when I’m not teaching, working on TpT resources, or blogging for my website The Autism Helper, I’m spending quality time with my new baby girl. Audrey Kathryn Long was born this fall, and my husband and I are so in love with our new addition!
Make sure to check out Sasha’s TpT store The Autism Helper and her popular blog where she shares a peek inside her classroom, gives lots of wonderful suggestions for setting up an autistic-friendly classroom environment, and so much more!