Teacher Candidate Reflections and Perceptions on a Service -Learing Project Working with Children with Disabilities on a Family Island in the Bahamas
Keywords:Special education, individualized instruction, transition services, journal writing, service learning, Family Islands, cultural immersion.
Over 4 years, 16 undergraduate special education teacher candidates from a university in the northeastern United States participated in a service-learning project on a family island of the Bahamas. An “out island” or “family island” refers to one of the islands in the Bahamas other than New Providence (where Nassau is the capital) or Grand Bahama. These islands are sparsely populated and remote, requiring either ferry or plane ride to access them.
The special education teacher candidates spent a week to 10 days supporting children with disabilities including intellectual disabilities, autism, emotional and behavioral disorders, and various learning disabilities. The teacher candidates developed lesson plans and implemented them both in small groups and individually. While on the island, the teacher candidates were responsible for reflecting on their experiences in the context of their preparation program. This article will discuss the findings from the journal entries of these 16 teacher candidates and will focus on the themes relating to teacher preparation that might optimally support sustainable educational change and progress for educators seeking to enhance education services for students with disabilities on a family island in the Bahamas.