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Kelly Crenshaw

Westerman Preschool and Family Center

Early Childhood Special Education Teacher - SPED

Number of Years Teaching:
13 years

Different Grades that you have taught:
Early On (birth through 3 years) and Preschool

How did you know that you wanted to teach early learners:
I’ve always known that I wanted to be a teacher. When I was a teen I babysat for a family that had three young children, two of which were diagnosed with autism. Before then I had never heard of autism. I spent time with the family learning about the spectrum and learning how to help the boys play and communicate. I discovered a passion for both teaching young children with autism and working with their families. I wanted to help families of very young children with autism navigate those early days of getting a diagnosis or school eligibility and helping them to develop a plan that would help their child reach their maximum potential. I understood through my research about best practice that early intervention was instrumental in a child’s success.

What are a few “non-negotiables” of your early learning classroom (kinda your educational philosophy)?:
I believe that every child has the ability to learn when given the opportunity and support they need to grow and succeed.  It is my role as teacher to create a fun, engaging and safe space for all children to become independent, communicative, and social with others. With that being said, these are some of my classroom “musts”: *Develop a daily routine with the teaching team that works and stick to it. The children are happier when learn what to expect. When there is no structure to a day, mass chaos happens. Also, the adults working in the classroom cannot feel effective when they don’t know the plan. *Plan for the unexpected and for “special activities”. Things happen and plans may need to change for a day. Field trips may occur or special guests may visit. Make sure you are also working on flexibility within those routines and changing up activities within the routines regularly. *Always look for the “why”, if you can’t think of why they’d want to do what you’re asking them to do they can’t either. *Make every opportunity a learning opportunity- eliciting language and social interactions are the main priorities of every school day. *Make it social, make it fun. Everything is more fun with a friend. Many of our children would rather play alone, so it’s important that we show them how fun it is to play with others through many engaging activities every day. *Make a positive connection with every child. Some children may have more challenging behaviors that can make this one more difficult, but that just means we should work that much harder to find the smile and make that connection.

What is something that you want us to know about you as a teacher of young children?:
I learn just as much from the students as they learn from me. Each child is a unique individual that helps me see things from a different angle. I love getting to know each child I work with and learning what strengths they possess and what areas they struggle to help them learn. I love working with students that exhibit some more of the challenging behaviors and limited verbal communication skills. I enjoy working with my team to analyze these behaviors and ways we can help the child navigate their world and be more regulated.

Anything else you would like your viewers to know?:
I think that I’ve covered everything. :)