Natalie Cabral (Credential 2017, MA 2019) has been an educator for nearly 10 years. She is currently an Education Specialist with the Santa Clara Unified School District. This academic year has brought several new experiences for Natalie as she moved from a resource position to take on her own Special Education classroom, and joined Lurie College as a Lecturer in the Special Education department. Learn about Natalie Cabral and her experience
- What are some of your highlights from your time in the Special Education program
What I appreciated about the program is that anytime I had a tricky case or something I needed feedback on, I loved that I was able to collaborate with my peers who were also doing similar work. And to collaborate with my professors, thought-partnering so I didn’t feel like I was on such an island.
Dr. Simpson and I made a really great connection and she supported me throughout the process. I really appreciated the thoughtfulness that my professors put into their classes.
- Could you share about your journey with us from Journalism to Special Ed?
I definitely fell into it! I started out as a paraprofessional and the following year I had a principal who said I really think you’d be great in this role, why don’t you try it out. I fell in love with the children, I love the smaller group size, the idea of being able to individualize my work and help on a deeper level, and provide closer attention to my students.
- What are some things that you would tell current students who are considering teaching to help them decide?
In education, there are so many options to slide in and out of different roles. With a Special Education credential, you have more options to do this. This helps to prevent burnout too – started out with Resource and took a lot away from that experience.
- Logistics – what are some tips for balancing the paperwork side of things?
Being organized and proactive is key! If you know you have a challenging case, prep for that IEP a month or two in advance, reach out to your team in advance. Once you get into a routine of being proactive, it makes life so much easier and you go into those meetings with much greater confidence – and you’re ready to share, think through, and problem solve with the team.
- What advice would you give to new teachers who are trying to navigate the professional space?
Be collaborative and curious – ask questions of other teachers. Bridge the silos between general education and special education, that collaboration is so critical. Don’t be afraid to speak up with suggestions or advocating for new ideas. I set very professional standards and I’m flexible with the needs of the general education teachers I’m collaborating with.