More about Me
Kimberly Jacobs, Author of Lessons in a Bubble and Special Education Teacher Mentor
Small Town Girl
I am an anomaly; Other than college, I have been enrolled as a student or employed as a teacher with the same school district every day since 1971. This has allowed me to build deep connections and love for my community and its future.
I wanted to be an architect but found out they work by themselves. So, I followed in the family tradition and got a teaching credential and Masters of Science in Curriculum Development. At age Twenty-two I was a teacher to 17 year old high-school seniors.
After tenure I became active in my union. As a negotiator I got to work with a new principal in the district, Stephanie. She was amazing. At the end of that year I asked if there was any way I could come work for her. She told me there would be a 4th grade position open but I would need a multiple subject credential. Without a blink I agreed and got my second credential.
I continued to live the dream and moved to 5th grade and then 3rd as I was willing to go where I was needed and really loved learning the nuances of students and demands of other grade level curriculum. Every day at Villalovoz with Stephanie as my mentor was amazing. (of course I was young and my back didn’t hurt either- story for another day) THEN in the outside world, education was taking a turn and publishers were telling us to read magical blue words ensuring all students will learn. I could not do it. Education is personal! My passions along with student’s interests were not part of this new curriculum. I just know I couldn’t do that.
That last year in general education I had a student. We will call him Andre. He came to me as a third grader who had only ever attended 24 days of second grade. The system had decided he needed testing for special education. I came unglued! Andre’s mom was an addict. He had not attended school until second grade because we had a year-round track education program at the time and the neighbors just thought he must be “off track” Eventually someone stepped in. Andre got a new home, for now, and was enrolled in school. As you can image, he did not have any foundational academic skills. BUT, in no way did I think it was ok for us to say on paper, even for a minute, we thought he couldn’t learn. So, I took up the cause, teach Andre everything in the next 180 days so no one thinks he can’t learn. Every assignment, lesson and project that year had to be leveled to help Andre learn what he needed while remaining part of our classroom. It was the best, hardest job ever. As you can guess, he wasn’t all caught up in 180 days but he showed so much growth the teachers saw and now also believed he can learn he just didn’t have the opportunity.
From that experience I learned I was really good at adapting lessons to meet his needs while using grade level material. My brain just saw what in the lesson would be an obstacle for him so I created a work around.
Push and Pull
My friend Laura was the self-contained special education teacher for a 4th/5th combo class. We did a lot of joint event type lessons in the 10 years prior. She saw how I seemed to just know how things could be adapted so her kids could participate in all the exciting lessons. Then, she supported me with Andre and my passion to not have anyone think he couldn’t learn. She said I needed to be a special education teacher. With the confidence she gave me and the push of the new general education trend. I did it! I went back for yet another credential. This time I was going to become a teacher for students with mild to moderate disabilities. Yay, me!
Sadly, Stephanie had moved on and with this new credential I would too. I became an Education Specialist at a k-5 school. The same school I attended way back in 1971. I had found my niche. I was learning how to teach everything from my students. When they needed it, I figured out how to teach it. The next 10 years flew by.
As I had always continued working in the union, the 21st year of teaching I was sent to be the only teacher from our district to work as the only special education teacher for a k-12 charter school that had purchased special education services from the district. It was dark. The staff and administration were great but not having had a program for special education ever, they didn’t think they needed me. I spent the next years going into classrooms, seeing a student struggle or a teacher need a certain kind of lesson and go back to my closet – yes, an old chemical closet between science rooms – and create! I would come back the next day with a lesson, or tool or strategy and help in any way I thought I could. By year two I was taking these same lessons and tools and posting them to Teachers pay Teachers. I learned so much about listening to teachers and what they found difficult about supporting the students that didn’t just “get it”. Before I left the charter school world I had figured out ways to teach letter sounds and how to use manipulative to teach algebra. Nowhere else would I have had the opportunity to work with so many teachers at all those levels. I am glad I was banished.
Currently I am a special education teacher at a K-8 public school. Yes, in the same district but at the far end of town. When I was young, the land had been home to a chicken farm where we would drive, for what seemed like forever, to get flats of eggs. I work with mostly the middle grade students by pulling them out for my special lessons in a bubble or pushing in to help them navigate their general education classes.
Over these, more than 30 years if you were counting, I have become more than just a union leader. I coordinated the district’s writing program K-8 which led me to become a member of The Great Valley Writing Project. With them I was able to publish two chapters in their book Over Our Shoulders. I chaired and am still involved in our Peer Assistance Review program to coach tenured teachers who are struggling in their classrooms. Over the years I have mentored dozens of new teachers. Currently, I mentor two teachers one general education and one special education on their journey to clear their teaching credentials. I am a site leader for the implementation of STEM learning. And most importantly I case manage my 29 students and teach a full period of study skills every day.
On the Side
Outside of my teaching day I taught for my local county in their teacher training program. Conducted study Saturday’s for teachers to help them pass either their CSET – subject matter competence, or RICA- teacher of reading assessment. This semester I am continuing to work as an adjunct professor at Humphrey’s University in the teacher credentialing program. When I look back one might say I have had many hats. I like to think I have many bracelets. I love them all and I want to wear them all at the same time. But, yes, I have collected charms from many schools, programs, students and opportunities.
You might be wondering with all that Kim, do you have a life. Yes! I am a proud mother of two strong independent women and grandmother to the most serious and adorable grandson. I have three porch kitties I feed every morning and night because they each just showed up and adopted me. I have two large dogs that would like to think I work better when they are laying on me but alas they settle for my feet. I own an older home with a huge one third acre lot that keeps me outside pulling weeds, picking up acorns, raking or planting all year long. While resting my old lady back, I enjoy nearly any reality show you throw at me. As I type this, Grey’s Anatomy is playing in the background. Before Covid I would have told you I was a movie buff but that has changed. I have not been to a movie in years. I also have very dear teacher friends that I count on for new teaching research, TpT advice and spelling the tea on their teacher room drama. We meet up at TpT conventions, have weekend work and play dates in our homes or attend a random Celtic Fair or concert.
I wanted to sub-head this dream – as I still have dreams. I want to see my children and grandson continue to thrive. I want to slow down so my back doesn’t hurt. I want to help kids and teachers. No one should go home from school crying. And . . . this is why there is Lessons in a Bubble. Although not a perfect solution, I dream that YOU, and other teachers with a good heart find joy in teaching our special learners. In the break room last week Katie a, sked, “what is your website and facebook about?” I told her, “ I want to be a place to get help so no one wants quit”
My Promise to You
I am here to help you. I won’t get rich teaching, I don’t need to be famous. But, if you join my community you will get the support you need. If you need to vent, get advice, find a time saving resource, or a way to set up your classroom for the year. I will have a legacy. You will have peace of mind and heart. Welcome.
I look forward to sharing with you. Please drop by my membership page to learn about my Facebook Group and connect with me on social media. I love sharing with teachers.