Originally from South Korea, Hyojong Sohn is a third-year doctoral student studying special education at the University of Florida after coming to the United States in 2015. Sohn joined DISES to connect with international educators and researchers and also share her unique experience as someone who has taught in South Korea and the United States.
Prior to entering the field of special education, Sohn started her education career as an elementary school teacher in South Korea. The South Korean school system is consistently ranked as one of the top educational systems in the world, particularly in the areas of math and science, yet when Sohn was teaching there, South Korea was just in the beginning stages of appropriately integrating people with disabilities into society. However, the country now has more policies and funding to support students with disabilities and general and special education teachers. [Special Education Learning Commons (e.g.https://sites.google.com/selc.sc.kr/selc)] The Special Education Commons South Korea has caused more appropriate delivery of service and greater inclusion of students with disabilities. Previously the negative stigma toward students with disabilities, especially with general education teachers and administrators who did not feel they had the knowledge and skills to teach and work with students with disabilities, impeded progress towards developing systemic educational systems to support students with disabilities in South Korea. (She reports this is similar to what she has seen in some cases in the U.S.)
Motivated by her experiences as a general education teacher, having students with disabilities in her classes in public school and her lack of knowledge in teaching students with disabilities, Sohn decided to learn more about effective pedagogy for working with students with disabilities. In her undergraduate training Sohn only had to take one course in teaching students with disabilities as is the case with many teacher education programs in the U.S.
Sohn’s research interests include teacher effectiveness, professional development, and literacy intervention in inclusive classrooms. Sohn is currently completing her dissertation titled “Evaluating a Classroom Observation Protocol for General and Special Education Teachers”. Through this research, she hopes to validate her observation tool used for providing performance feedback to ultimately improve general and special education teacher practice and effectiveness.