Advice desperately needed

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by mrsf70, Aug 9, 2017.

  1. mrsf70

    mrsf70 Companion

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    Aug 9, 2017

    I teach pre-algebra and algebra to 8th grade students, and for the first time in my career, I have a completely blind student in one of my classes. She does not have a para or aide of any kind, although the district is working on finding one. She does read Braille, but struggles greatly with math. There is no aide of any kind to help her. She is also NOT in my co-taught integrated class because she is apparently has a good voice and enjoys choir.

    I am at a loss on how I will help this student. There is no assistive technology available. The only resource was an email form the TOR that all worksheets must be to her 3 days early to be converted to Braille. I do not assign homework; all of our learning is done in class through hands-on, conceptual practices. I make math very visual for all my students, so the worksheet thing will not help me.

    Does anyone have advice on what I can do? Thanks in advance.
     
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  3. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Aug 9, 2017

    I would ask for a sit-down meeting with the special education teacher and an administrator. At this meeting, I would explain that you do not typically teach with worksheets. Then, as a team, discuss how both you AND the special education teacher can work together to come up with modified assignments that will allow this student to access the content of your class. Don't go into the meeting complaining about how you have no help and don't know what to do. Go into the meeting with the mindset that you want to help this student and also grow as a teacher; you just need some guidance and support from your sped colleague and your administrator. Find out what suggestions they have. It may mean that you have to make up worksheets that only this student will use. It may mean that the special education teacher has to make worksheets. While it will require extra work from both of you, you should share the responsibility of ensuring that this student has the same access to the content as any other student in the class, even if the student is exposed to the content in a different way. Maybe the administrator can send you to PD that will help you to learn how to work with this student. Regardless, this is going to be extra work for you, no doubt about it. But, in the long run, it will help you to become a better teacher, as you'll have to think about alternate ways to teach your content to students with varying needs. Ask for help from those in your school, and see what support you receive.
     
  4. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Aug 9, 2017

    The most important viewpoint of most people with differences is that they are still just as normal as everyone else. My Deaf friends and coworkers, (who by the way, prefer the term "Deaf" spelled with a capital "D" over the term "hearing impaired") describe themselves as being able to do anything anyone else can do except hear. And oh! do they make up for their difference in hearing with their other senses, especially their eyes! When you think about it, everyone has differences; some are just more obvious than others.

    Another situation often happens with students with differences. The parents refuse to accept the child's difference and try to mold the child into what the child is incapable of doing. Surprisingly, this can possibly have the benefit of increasing the child's independence and determination, but it is otherwise detrimental. Often much academic time is wasted trying to get the child to do what is next to impossible. Many Deaf adults have described their fruitless experiences in mainstreaming. Yet for other students, mainstreaming is what the original law meant for it to be, the least restrictive environment.

    I would recommend for your student that you and she continually discuss what is least restrictive and most beneficial for her and what extra efforts can she incorporate to increase her own adaptation to the mainstreamed classroom. It really is true that blind people's ears and senses are more alert than seeing people's. In college, I walked along the road one day with a blind student who was in my dorm; just by tapping his cane on the sidewalk and using other sensory clues he was able to tell me stuff I could see with my eyes--a car, a tree, a house, whatever. In algebra, perhaps visual aides could be felt by the student or described verbally. Students could assist the blind student in understanding the new concepts; they will need to learn not to be overly helpful or condescending. As with any cooperative learning experience, this will enrich the learning of the concepts for both students; in fact, my guess is that there will also be times when the blind student is assisting other students with the concepts. With appropriate caution that this next idea won't be misinterpreted by the student, perhaps a lesson or two could be taught while the entire class is blindfolded.

    If I might relate some awkward situations I've learned about from my Deaf friends, and these stories could be reapplied to any difference, one common occurrence with the Deaf happens when they visit a restaurant. Immediately, the waitress gives them a Braille menu. (?) One of my supervisors who is Deaf told me that one time when she informed an airline that she was Deaf, they met her at the airport with a wheelchair. Sometimes in being helpful to the person with a difference, the responder goes overboard.

    I'm reminded of a classroom experience. I had a 2nd grader with severe SLD. The first day of school during lunch time he came back into my room, where my aide and I were eating, crying. He didn't know where to sit during lunchtime. I quietly suggested he go back out and try again. I secretly kept an eye on him out the door to make sure he was successful, which he was. Well, the aide was astonished! How could I have been so cruel! I explained that I wasn't being cruel. To take him out and seat him, not allowing him to try and succeed, would have been the cruel action.
     
  5. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Aug 9, 2017

    You sure are going to get a workout making verbal descriptions of processes first rate!
     
  6. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Aug 9, 2017

    I would contact the TOR and ask for some specific accommodations in addition to the worksheet thing. I would imagine that you would be expected to provide handouts of anything you may display on the board, like PowerPoint presentations, or the walls, like anchor charts. You may also want to create handouts for any formulas or definitions, just for this one student.

    I would also advise that you speak with the student directly and just ask her what she needs or wants. She certainly knows this better than anyone and can probably advocate for herself at least a little.

    I once had a student with a very severe visual impairment. She refused Braille resources, so I provided paper copies of worksheets and anything displayed on the board, magnified 500%. She didn't want any other special treatment, and her IEP team agreed that nothing else was necessary for her in my class. She did have a special case worker experienced in working with blind and visually impaired students; he was always very helpful in answering my questions and providing advice and resources to teachers.
     
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  7. DAH

    DAH Companion

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    Aug 9, 2017

    [QUOTE="mrsf7...Does anyone have advice on what I can do? I am at a loss on how I will help this student.[/QUOTE]

    This sounds like an I.D.E.A. "OUT OF COMPLIANCE" situation.

     
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  8. viola_x_wittrockiana

    viola_x_wittrockiana Comrade

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    Aug 9, 2017

    I can tell you one area of difficulty to address sooner rather than later: graphing. I'm only visually impaired and not legally blind or completely blind, but graphing was a pain for me. My suggestion is to have her do a written description of the graph and illustrate graphs with raised lines/grid. There's a type of "puffy" gel pen that has raised ink that could be used to trace the graphs on handouts.

    Try not to rely on other students assisting her too much, because that sets up complicated relationship dynamics that many students that age are not ready to navigate. Oh, and DON'T move furniture without telling her. You get used to a room, and then somebody moves stuff and you're smacking into things.

    Otherwise, I second caesar to talk to the student. If you have a state school for the blind, check with them for resources, or maybe try another state's if your's doesn't have one.
     
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  9. mrsf70

    mrsf70 Companion

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    Aug 10, 2017

    Thanks for all the information. I've had many sped students in my classroom, ASD, SLD, ED, you name it. I work my tail off for them, so it's not an issue of extra work. I've just not accommodated a completely blind student before. I want to do the most for her I can.

    We will be having a meeting to discuss the girl's needs next week. Her TOR has also been emailing with me, offering very helpful advice. Our guidance office is also working to get her an aide to help with escorting to rooms and in-class work. All in all, people are stepping up to get this girl on the right track.

    Thanks again for all the great advice!!
     
  10. DAH

    DAH Companion

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    Aug 10, 2017

    [QUOTE="mrsf70,
    ...We will be having a meeting to discuss the girl's needs next week.
    ... emailing with me, offering very helpful advice.
    ... working to get her an aide to help with escorting to rooms and in-class work.
    ...people are stepping up to get this girl on the right track./QUOTE]

    They better step it up! Because this sounds like a lawsuit in the making.
    It seems that these things should have all been set-up for her BEFORE she started school.
     
  11. mrsf70

    mrsf70 Companion

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    Aug 10, 2017

    The girl showed up at school on day 2 without registering. We dealt with her last year for about the first month of school, then mom pulled her and sent her to live with dad. It's a complicated situation.
     
  12. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Aug 11, 2017

    Based on the info provided, sounds like they are complying with the law - district has 30 days to hold an IEP meeting after the IEP is transferred in and they have to honor it as close as they can get it until the team makes a decision.
     
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