MassCUE is pleased to announce Megan McGovern as our Featured Educator for May 2022!
To the casual observer, the Instagram posts and Tik Tok videos that Megan McGovern posts for her students may just seem like a fun way to connect with them. But this inclusion specialist for East Bridgewater Junior/Senior High School is using these tools with a larger goal in mind: to end the stigma around special education. As an inclusion specialist who co-teaches in all subject areas, her goal is to make all students comfortable working with her, whether they are on an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or not.
“My biggest dream of being a special ed teacher is that no one would see me as such,” McGovern explains. “I want to be the teacher that everyone wants to work with – not just the special ed kids.”
Instead of coming in to the classroom and calling certain kids to take a test with her, she invites anyone to come. By building relationships with the kids and offering help to everyone, she is hoping to help kids shed that “special ed” label.
“Relationships are always what I seek first and then everything else falls into place,” says McGovern. “When kids feel that they are loved, they will rise.”
McGovern worked with a math co-teacher to create her first assignment that incorporated Tik Tok.
“We were teaching 7th graders and we noticed they were doing all these silly dances from the 90s,” says McGovern. “We asked them what they were doing and they told us about Tik Tok. So I suggested to my co-teacher that we come up with a way for the kids to do math and Tik Tok.”
The resulting lesson was a big success.
“The kids killed it,” McGovern says.
When the school closed due to the pandemic, Tik Tok became a way to stay connected with the kids. Since then, it’s offered a mix of fun and education – meeting kids where they are. McGovern also has an Instagram account that she shares with kids and parents that features pictures from school events and a few of her family. McGovern is the junior class advisor, student senate coordinator and student activities coordinator for the building, so she gets a lot of great pictures to share.
“Instagram has been a great way to connect with the kids,” says McGovern. “Parents also follow me to see the pictures. As more millennials become parents, I think putting the things their kids produce on Instagram will be a better way to communicate with them than sending an email that they might not read.”
Her advice to fellow educators who may be nervous about making Tik Tok videos or posting on social media: let it go.
“You can feel self-conscious making a video for students, but some of teaching is acting,” McGovern says. “Find a teacher who has used social media and learn from them. Then put your toe in. Maybe Tik Tok is not for you, but maybe another platform is.”
In her inclusion classrooms, McGovern uses a variety of tech tools to engage students including Select and Speak: Text to Speech, Google Sheets, Audible and Screencastify, which she says is a great activator to help students remember lessons. To see some examples of lessons for students and teachers that McGovern has created using Google Slides, click the resources below:
For the past five years, McGovern has worked in the Extended School Year (ESY) program for kids with disabilities during the summer. She started a Unified Sports program that serves those kids and recruits kids from her inclusion classrooms to serve as coaches. The result has been magical.
“Attending a Unified Sports game just makes your week,” says McGovern. “It’s wonderful for the parents of these athletes to get to watch their child in a game with a big crowd. And it’s incredible what the student coaches do to help. They may not all be stars in the classroom, but they are stars on the field with these kids.”
McGovern loves bringing her two young children to the games so that they will be exposed to a diverse population of people. After her son was diagnosed with Autism last year, her work became even more personal.
“When people hear autism, they might think certain things,” says McGovern. “It’s important to use the right words and avoid judging a kid because of a label. It’s so important in education right now.”
McGovern is bringing that message to her fellow educators in a presentation called “Take Your Hood Off,” which explores micro aggressions in the classroom and in the school environment around students on IEPs.
“A lot of kids who are on IEPs or who are hurting in some way will wear a hood and for some reason our society forces them to take it off,” says McGovern. “As educators and as a society, I think we should start looking at why we do that.”
Megan McGovern has been an inclusion specialist at East Bridgewater Junior/Senior High School for eight years. Before that she worked at The Manville School at Judge Baker Children’s Center and as a teacher’s aid in Canton. She is the coach of Unified Sports at her current school as well as serving as the junior class advisor, and student activities coordinator for the building. She holds a bachelor of science degree in sociology from Keene State College, a master’s degree in Mild to Moderate Special Education from Cambridge College and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study Generalist: Inclusive Practices from the University of New England. Follow her on Twitter: @Mmcgovern46 and Instagram: @teamMcG225 TikTok:@mmcg46Print this post