Frustrated with the Special Ed program in my school.

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by Mellz Bellz, Mar 25, 2013.

  1. Mellz Bellz

    Mellz Bellz Comrade

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    Mar 25, 2013

    This may come off as kind of venting, but I'm just really frustrated right now. I guess I'm one of those teachers who just cares too much which is both a blessing and a curse. I transferred from elementary self-contained to middle school inclusion last year. Although I enjoyed having my own classroom, I did not enjoy having 9 students from K-5 in one classroom with completely different disabilities and one TA who was not very competent. It was a situation that was doomed to fail regardless if the most experienced teacher in the world were to step into that position.

    When I moved to middle school last year it was actually a sigh of relief to only have one grade level to worry about, to have a team to collaborate with, and a more specific group of disabilities to have to focus on. Last year was a very positive year. In fact so positive that when the county office wanted to move me yet again to either another middle school or high school, I put my foot down. Three moved in three years I felt was ridiculous especially when I was a good fit with the current 6th grade team as well as the Sp Ed team and there were less competant people in the department.

    This year is a completely different story! Same grade, same school, pretty much same grade level team with two new additions which I feel are positive. New P., new curriculum, a MUCH tougher group of students (both academically and behaviorally), and less and less support services available for them. At my school in the middle school level there are pretty much two placement options: self-contained (for students with severe deficits) and inclusion (everyone else). Out of 19 students on my caseload right now, seven of them are operating on a level somewhere around the mid 1st- 2nd grade area. Several have IQ's between 62-72. I have two students that have trouble decoding CVC words. And they're expected to be reading and analyzing grade level text! It's to the point that the students in self-contained are actually performing higher than some of my kids because they are getting that consistent, daily, direct instruction at their own pace.

    My kids get me in the general Ed classroom every other day. Most of the time I'm utilized more like a para and wind up sitting with my lowest kids just helping them keep up with writing down notes. I can only modify so much because they are still expected to be held at the same standards as everyone else. I spend so much time just trying to help them keep up that I wind up not getting around to my higher students who could be successful with a little support. The only one on one time I get with my students to work on remedial skills is once a week for 30 minutes during their lunch time. ( I pull kids in small groups on certain days for small group instruction. This is completely independent of their service time and I do this voluntarily.) Of course once a week is not enough time and a lot of the kids are not thrilled about coming during their social time. I'm not allowed to pull them out of class at all even though sometimes the instruction is just going right over their heads.

    Things are even harder with the Common Core because majority of even the general Ed students simply don't have the background knowledge to complete what we are asking of them. With no time to go back and fill in the blanks I feel like the attitude is "Well, if you don't know it by now, you're SOL." I see my poor students falling through the cracks and I feel powerless to help them which is a horrible feeling.

    As these students are falling further behind I see them giving up which makes behavior worse. They are increasingly negative about school and refuse to even pick up a pencil. Getting anything out of them is a battle. When they take a test, I see them just circling answers. It's very disheartening.

    To top it all off one of my collegues who is just as sick of the system as I am is trying to apply for an open gen Ed position (which she's qualified for) and was told by our P. that she's "not sure if an inclusion teacher can actually handle teaching a class of 30 students and all that goes with it." Way to make us feel like valued individuals...

    I'm just very burnt out and fed up with this entire system. With only 3 years in the field I'm WAY too young to be so cynical already. I became a Special Ed teacher to help students improve in weak areas. It's really sad how everything boils down to money or the current educational trend. Our kids are the ones who suffer. Instead of increasing academic acheivement, I fear that we are doing the opposite.
     
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  3. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Mar 25, 2013

    Maybe it's time to look for a new position? Are all the districts around you the same? I completely get what you are saying. Your situation is exactly why I didn't want to teach sped in my home state ("full inclusion" everywhere). We do still have resource programs around here, but I see them slowly going away with CC and "rigor." Even with me having a background in sped, my students on IEPs really struggle in gen ed. I'm glad they have the support of their pull out services where they are really learning on their level. There is only so much I can do in the regular classroom since I am required to teach the grade level curriculum.
     
  4. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Mar 26, 2013

    I feel like I could have written this paragraph. This is exactly what happens at my school. I have a girl who has a 60 IQ (and a verbal IQ of 52!!!!) and she seriously is confused by EVERYTHING in the general education classroom. Even something as simple as "underline this". We recently hired a resource room teacher to take those lower kids, and I thought all of my problems were solved. Recently, I found out that because this resource room was planned "last minute", that it's the "student's choice" if they want to go to resource or not. I was furious. I found this out NOT through my P or SPED Director, but through a very confusing exchange of emails with the resource teacher himself.

    I have been promised that the inclusion "system" will be better next year. Like you, I worry a lot about these kids and Common Core. Being in a low income area, it's not just the SPED kids who are below grade level. It's going to be tough.

    I have no advice for you, just know there's someone else in the same boat!
     
  5. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    Mar 26, 2013

    Hmmm...I wonder if a phone call home letting parents know that resource is an "option" for their child will result in some parents making their child attend.

    I have students with IQs in the 50s. Most of them will end up in regular ed. with little to no support because their IQs are too high for a self-contained class.
     
  6. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Mar 26, 2013

    Apparently it's my job to make them go every day. Along with co-teaching two subjects, coordinating the IAT process for my grade level, writing 22 IEPs and all of the other duties that go along with my job.

    We start a new grading period next Tuesday when we return from break, so that will be a nice "transition". I will just lay it down that you go to this class every day from now until the end of the year. I didn't recommend these kids for resource if I didn't think they needed it every day. They get pulled out of specials (and in one case, kids get pulled out of math to get language arts support!) but I hope it will be worth it.

    Grrrrr, sorry just venting!
     
  7. readforxboxguy

    readforxboxguy Rookie

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    Mar 26, 2013

    This is also happening in my district. There are definitely advantages for students being with their non-disabled peers, but when a student reads at a 1st-2nd grade level, they need intensive reading interventions. I have a student who does not know the difference between a city, state, country, and continent, and yet they are being taught about the 3rd Punic War and asked to identify 15 parts of the eye in Science. I have gone from teaching reading in LA/LIT and the reading in the content area(s), to using LA/LIT time to help them understand their Science assignment. Sometimes programs look good for PR and for a resume, and they make no practical sense for the kids. Your comment about caring too much hits home with me as well. In education, the squeaky wheel doesn't get the grease, they get involuntary transfers. I have no advice because I find myself in the same situation and have no answers myself. I will say that the teachers who simply print out their assignment sheets, don't teach while sitting at their desk, are left alone. It is the passionate teachers who demand excellence that are seen as problems and tend to get hassled. That, to me, is a problem.

    readforxboxguy
     
  8. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Mar 26, 2013

    I relate and sympathize; this is why I am not doing Special Ed next year. I've spent too long watching our kids get less and less support and not making the progress they should (and could) be making. I know that, for us, a large part of it has to do with funding. Students with ASD are receiving increasing levels of support, while those with Learning Disabilities or Mild Intellectual Disabilities are losing out.
     
  9. Mellz Bellz

    Mellz Bellz Comrade

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    Mar 26, 2013

    Thanks guys. I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one going through this. I really feel that we should be teaching these kids practical life skills like how to count money and make change versus algebra. And they don't need to know how to create plot maps. They need to know how to read job related material. Let's face it, most of these kids are not going to be attending college. We'll be lucky if they finish high school.

    I hope that next year is better. I'm up for tenure then (providing they don't get rid of it) so it makes no sense to try to change districts. After next year we'll see.
     
  10. bella84

    bella84 Enthusiast

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    Mar 26, 2013

    This is precisely why I don't want to be an inclusion teacher. While the thought of not having to plan and prepare for lessons is certainly enticing after a rough day, I didn't get a masters degree to be an overpaid para. I wish co-teaching was implemented the way it was intended to be. Luckily most of my day is with resource and *mostly* self-contained students (in the same room and both on my caseload... How wonderful is that?), but I have two rooms I push in to. In those cases, I truly am nothing more than an overpaid para.

    I too am frustrated with this system. Someone please explain to me why a para can't meet my push-in minutes, but its okay for them to meet my self-contained minutes when I'm out of the room? There are so many things that just don't make sense or work as intended with the current system. I'm also frustrated with how limiting IEP goals seem to make my instruction. We can't possibly write a goal for everything a kid needs, but is that all I am supposed to work on?? And how do you even work on IEP goals if you're just supporting the kids in reg ed??

    I could go on and on, but I'll stop. Sped is a very frustrating place to be.... especially for those of us that care too much... but knowing our kids need teachers with just that kind of passion is what keeps me going. So far anyway.
     
  11. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Mar 27, 2013

    If it makes you feel any better, that's not how my inclusion experience is. I truly teach in both subject areas. In fact, I think I do more (planning/grading/execution) than one of my general ed co-teachers! I don't feel like a para, and I feel like I have even more responsibilities than the general education teacher. That's what I'm sick of. I like taking on challenges and being busy, but if I'm going to do all this work, I'd like to just have my own classroom and do my own thing. Hence why I'm going back to school for my general ed degree :p
     
  12. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Mar 27, 2013

    Or move to self-contained, Bumble!

    I would HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE being an inclusion teacher. Really. You are all super special for tolerating that. SPED teachers are "low on the totem pole" as it is in my school...co-teaching is even worse.
     
  13. deefreddy

    deefreddy Companion

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    Mar 28, 2013

    we're in a fine mess

    Where are the experts to help us in all of this? I am frustrated at my district because there is absolutely NO inclusion whatsoever. I am left to beg and plead to allow a student to take even one class with general education peers. I try to explain that I will send a para and modify and adapt the material, but everyone thinks I am crazy. They want all of my students to stay in the self-contained classroom all day!

    So now its obvious that the promise of inclusion is not that great either and the grass is not greener.
     
  14. TheBagLady

    TheBagLady Rookie

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    Apr 25, 2013

    That sounds a lot like my first job - 7th and 8th grade inclusion, but spread so that I could only push in with each class every other day. It was my first year, and I had no confidence, so I really got pushed around - first being told to pull out, and trying my hardest, then being told I wasn't teaching the "core" and that was wrong, to being told not to pull at all and having in some cases 9 sped kids moved into the same class so I could push in. Sometimes my push in time turned to me standing around while the teacher lectured. That year was so horrible and awkward.

    Special Education should always be a continuum. Some kiddos really do best in a self-contained setting, with an individualized program and small group/1-1 support all day. Some kids really need that intensive reading/math support that can only come with pull-out when they are several grades below. I have been having more success stories this year putting resource kids back in gen. ed.- but they probably wouldn't be where they are if they didn't get the intervention early. Inclusion with an aide or teacher pushing in is just perfect for those students who are just below grade level or need some extra support- especially as they go into middle school and pull-out is embarrassing. It's sad when "special ed." isn't all that special because of funding. :(

    I know we are shifting into more rigor with common core, but maybe it'll swing back if districts see their sped cohort scores going down and down.
     
  15. Mr.history

    Mr.history Cohort

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    Apr 25, 2013

    This topic interests me. I have very little experience with inclusion students. When I was student teaching I had one class which had a inclusion teacher with about 6 students that they were supposed to work with. I would say 3 or those students were able to grasp the content(US History) but the others could not.

    Instead those students sat there frustrated, acted out, and generally had a bad time. I had a junior in my class who had a SINGLE credit his whole high school career. What is the point of sending these students from class to class like this? Surely there is an alternative for these students.
     
  16. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

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    Apr 26, 2013

    I can't tell you how strongly I am against full inclusion. Yes, inclusion is great for many kids. But too often it's an excuse to give kids less services and a way to save money.

    My 4th graders range from K-early 2nd grade level. If they were forced into a gen ed classroom and made to do that work, they would drown. No amount of modifications I put in place is going to get them to write 5 paragraph expository essays, independent research projects, and long division word problems. :dizzy: There would be only two options. Option 1: my students would be completely lost OR Option 2: the material for the entire class would have be dramatically lowered to accomodate them.

    Full inclusion sounds great as a theory to people on the outside. But for many kids, it just doesn't work.
     

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