Hi! I’m Kathleen Guleksen. I live on Long Island with my wonderful husband. We have two grown children who have given us a most precious gift, five beautiful grandchildren.
I am a retired Special Education teacher with over 20 years experience teaching grades 1 through 8 in elementary and middle school settings. I started out teaching special kids in a self-contained classroom and eventually moved to a resource room. Much later, I was invited to teach graduate level courses for the Literacy Department at a Long Island, NY college. I loved teaching the aspiring teachers as well as those veteran teachers who wanted a master’s degree in literacy or special education. When I retired the Director of Special Services asked me to return on a part-time basis to become the district’s first official teacher mentor for new Special Education teachers. That was a great way to continue to share with new teachers. Unfortunately, this position ended when the district had economic problems, like many other districts, and had layoffs for the first time in decades. No new teachers, no need for a mentor. That was a very sad day for all, mostly the kids.
I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in both Elementary Education and Special Education and a Master of Science degree in Literacy Education.
How My Philosophy Developed
When I started out teaching elementary school there were no content area grade level materials that my special kids could read. At that time students were placed in Special Education classes according to their chronological age. The rule was there could be a disparity of 3 years between the age of the oldest student and the age of the youngest student. No consideration was given to ability levels. As a result, my students’ needs were so diverse each unit needed material on several levels. So I began to write my own units. The more I wrote and planned, the more I enjoyed it. For me, planning lessons to try to get that “light bulb to light up,” has always been an enjoyable challenge. I used thematic units to help my students understand the material they needed to know. Everything we did throughout the day was related to that theme, usually the current social studies unit. Reading materials, math word problems, penmanship (yes, old-fashioned penmanship), and lots of fun hands-on materials were all designed to reinforce the subject matter. There needed to be a culminating project to bring the entire unit together and everyone needed to be able to participate, hence diversified materials.
Today I design my resources for TpT with the goal of including different ways to get kids motivated and engaged. Sometimes I include two pages of a task, one slightly easier than the other, for the teacher to decide which is best for his or her group.
I am writing a series of a few true-to-life stories about my experiences with past students and their parents. I am calling it “The Ollie and Molly Stories.” Rather than make up different fictitious names for the kids in each story, I am using the name Ollie to depict every boy and the name Mollie for every girl in my stories. Each Ollie and Molly story tells about different students. I have never had a student named Ollie or Molly. In a few days I will post the first Ollie and Mollie story, “How the A+ Kids Name Came to Be.”
I hope you enjoy my blog as I try to share some things I have learned and I hope to learn from all of you too. Please feel free to comment here. I would love the feedback.