Condition of Special Ed. Classrooms

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by Youreapeach, Aug 20, 2009.

  1. Youreapeach

    Youreapeach Rookie

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    Aug 20, 2009

    I just wanted to find out if what I'm experiencing now is "typical" of other SPED teachers, and get some feedback from folks.
    I have worked at 3 schools prior to the one I was just hired at, so that's the only frame of reference I have. I just got my keys yesterday, and when I walked into my new classroom, I wanted to cry! It's in a bungalow outside, so it's just one of those temporary rooms. The floors and walls are all torn up. Pieces of tiles are missing, it's dirty (dead cockroaches on the floor, and doesn't look like it's been swept in forever), and there are no windows! There is no sink, and the little bit of furniture (a few bookcases) is in poor shape. The teacher desk is this little old wooden thing. There is no desk for my aide, and there isn't even a kidney table or any table to do group work! I went through all the cabinets, etc. and there isn't much of anything. I finally found some books for the classroom library and there isn't even enough to fill a third of one shelf! I found one dictionary!!!
    Now, in my experience, SPED folks often get the short end of the stick when it comes to materials. This is not a surprise. However, the condition of the room and the lack of even basic things for the students and myself has my head spinning! I do small group work and without a big table I'm not sure what/how to do it! I can't believe the previous teacher functioned like this all year. My other SPED classrooms haven't been close to this. I've always had at least the basics of a classroom library, and a clean room and the furniture I need, if not a lot more. I've been feeling really depressed about things since yesterday, and questioning myself and feeling really worried. I'm teaching a 6-8th self-contained class, so the kids will be with me all day! I do have many of my own materials that I'll be bringing, but it just seems really sad to me that anyone would consider this acceptable. Guess I just want to know if anyone else has experienced a classroom in this condition or with lack of materials, etc. and what you did? Should I talk to my principal? I'm not a complainer and don't want to start off the year on a negative note with her. That's why I came here for your input! Thanks again for all your help and support here. I'm hoping to gain insight and feel better or get some good advice!
     
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  3. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Aug 20, 2009

    Yep, from my personal experience (as a sped student), it is usually that bad, or worse.

    The thing that makes it tolerable are the caring teachers
     
  4. bryanmj

    bryanmj Rookie

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    Aug 20, 2009

    I have always had the furniture I've needed. We have a curriculum room for spec. ed. at the middle level, but it's slim pickings. I purchased most of the instructional materials I used. There are basic things you need in order for your room to function. I think you should address this with your principal. You don't have to complain but come at it from the angle of student learning and creating a positive environment. You seem as though you deeply care about your students, so I'm positive that you will make it work.
     
  5. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Aug 20, 2009

    Well, to respond to your post, I have a few questions.

    1. Are you sure this is the classroom that was used last year? Sometimes they switch classes around. Perhaps this was a storage room, a reading intervention room, a 1:1 instruction room, small group testing room, etc. Maybe it's not where the kids were?

    2. March straight to your principal's office and say, "What can I do to get a table for group instruction? I'd love to have a horseshoe table as that promotes interaction, but if that is not available I just need a table that will seat ___." Any principal who denied that request would be crazy! I think it's legit. So don't let the fact that you don't have a table worry you.

    3. It might be dirty because it gets dirty over the summer. The schools are pretty much abandoned over the summer. This might correlate with my number one, in that the room hasn't been used in a while. It could, also, just be really gross. And that would stink!

    4. Do you have a special ed team, coordinator, etc.? Perhaps you can check with them or with your district office to see what supplies are available. I am starting in a 5th-6th self contained class for kids with autism next week, and my room was close to empty. They gave me a the opportunity to order a bunch of supplies. Perhaps this will be an option for you. Also, the district office has a "curriculum closet" where you can get math, reading, science, etc. curriculum sets to "check out." Maybe there is something like that in your district office. Also, are there other self-contained classes at your school? That could be a resource!

    At any rate, it is DEFINITELY disappointing to walk into a new job with those conditions. Do your best to clean it up! Go take a little trip to the dollar store and get yourself a broom and a dust pan. Also get a few decorations (bulletin board stuff, posters, borders, etc.) Try to spruce it up a little bit! It's good that you feel that the classroom is inadequate, because it means you're going to do what you need to do to make it adequate!

    Also check on ebay. Lots of times teachers will sell a "Lot" of something (workbooks, bulletin board displays, etc.) and you can purchase a big bundle for a really low price. Same with curriculum (TouchMath, Edmark, etc.) -- it can be found on Ebay for quite cheap.

    Good luck!!!! You can make it beautiful!!!
     
  6. Youreapeach

    Youreapeach Rookie

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    Aug 20, 2009

    Thanks so much to those that responded. I've been pretty depressed since yesterday, and I'm really trying to be positive, but it's hard! I guess I've just been really lucky in the past with what I've come into. I was telling some friends about the dead cockroaches and the filth and they couldn't believe it! The rooms are supposed to be totally cleaned during the summer. It was my understanding that this happened prior to us getting our keys this week. That's always the way it worked in the past. As for the classroom, I think it's the same room. It's a portable bungalow and I heard they will be tearing them down at some point as school construction continues. This could account for them not cleaning or repairing things, but at the same time they know we will be in there, so it has to be taken care of!
    I'm really disturbed about the lack of classroom library books and still can't believe there is only 1 dictionary!!
    If I talk to the principal about the table I want, would it be appropriate to mention the cleanliness of the room, and the lack of supplies? There is a chair of the SPED department, but she is a Resource teacher. There are 4 Resource teachers (including her), and one Self-Contained Teacher (me), on site. I haven't met her yet, and as we don't need to be back until the end of next week, don't know when I will. It's so hard to plan and get stuff done with all these questions!
    I guess I feel somewhat better knowing I'm not alone and things like this have happened to other people! I'm feeling like the lonely, step-child!
     
  7. TampaTeacher2Be

    TampaTeacher2Be Comrade

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    Aug 20, 2009

    As far as the lack of furniture and supplies, I would hold off and ask my team leader once school starts - most principals are not at all involved when it comes to stuff like furniture, and your team leader can help you identify the correct person to talk to about that. (In my district, the AP facilities handles furniture and maintenance requests, and department heads handle distributing/ordering curriculum supplies.

    As far as the ripped up walls, floor, etc. I would definitely put in a maintenance request to have that fixed once school starts and they explain the procedure. If they give you flack about it, tell them that you are concerned that it might cause a safety issue for your students.

    You mentioned that teachers don't come back to school for another week. It is entirely possible that they just haven't finished preparing your room yet. It could have very well been unoccupied or used for storage. I know at my school, the teachers have been back since Monday, and the custodians and maintenance guys are still working on maintenance requests. There are drop cloths all over the place to paint, broken tiles are being fixed, etc. It looks a little crazy now, but it will be gorgeous for the first day of school.
     
  8. Youreapeach

    Youreapeach Rookie

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    Aug 20, 2009


    They are supposed to be done with rooms. We were told that we could get our keys this week because they had finished rooms and were just finishing the cafeteria. We go back on Thursday, so there are only a few days left. When I was there yesterday, I didn't run into any teachers to ask how their rooms looked. This is just the most depressing room that I've ever seen. No windows, everything old and shabby, floors gross, and it kind of has a funny smell!
    There is also no sink, which bothers me. I think self-contained classrooms should have a sink. Just my opinion. Guess I will just have to go shopping and see what I can get to improve things some.
     
  9. sarypotter

    sarypotter Comrade

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    Aug 21, 2009

    I'm sorry your classroom is such a mess! I thought I would hate teaching in a room with no windows, but I ended up loving it. Here's what we did:

    -The first day, everybody drew/painted/collaged/photographed a place that they loved, and we made fake window frames and curtains to put around them. Each student had a "window" up on the wall. I also made a few "windows" with pictures of various locations "outside," like a local waterfall, a rainforest, a desert, a city, just different interesting places. We used them all year as writing prompts.

    -Three words. Shadow puppet theater. I had some readers that year and they read like crazy for the privilege of turning off the lights, breaking out the flashlight, and retelling the story in shadow puppets. We played other flashlight games, such as me shining the flashlight on various safety signs and having them identify it.

    -Once I was sure the behavior in the classroom was pretty much under control, I put up one of those light-and-motion pictures of a waterfall, which gave us a sense of the outdoors and made the room quite peaceful. I know this would not be an option in some classrooms, as those things are heavy and breakable, but we were lucky that we were able to use it. When the room was lit only by that picture and a few soft lamps, it was the coziest place!

    I hope that helps!
     
  10. kidatheart

    kidatheart Habitué

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    Aug 21, 2009

    The conditions are appalling, it is true in many districts. In your situation, I'd like to make a suggestion that might help brighten up your room. Go to a party store and see if they have a wall hanging that looks like a brick wall, an aquarium, lattice with ivy - something to make it less depressing for you. try Stumps for ideas
    http://www.stumpsprom.com/catalog.cfm?cat=17232
     
  11. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Aug 21, 2009

    I've never run into the poor condition of the room like that (although this year they put my self-contained life skills room IN THE BAND ROOM - with THE BAND TEACHER :rolleyes:). But I can relate to the lack of furniture. When I got to my room, there was a small desk and chair for me and that was it. What I did was hunt down and meet the head custodian. I asked him if he could please help me find some desks, bookshelves, a filing cabinet, and a table or two. He got me ten student desks and chairs in good shape. Next came a filing cabinet so old that it just needed to be thrown away. No bookcases. No tables.

    I went and bought two short bookcases from Walmart for $19 each. Then I brought in a small one we had at home in our attic. Then I made friends with the teacher next to me. She mentioned that she had a table she didn't need anymore - so I took it. Then she was showing me one of her closets - and there were MORE UNUSED BOOKSHELVES in there - so I asked if I could take one and she said yes.

    THEN, I found out the band teacher quit. HA! That meant that the new teacher - - WOULD BE NEWER THAN ME. (So I swapped my crappy file cabinet and desk for hers!) :D

    Now I have a fully stocked room and I didn't go to the principal at all.

    So beg, borrow, steal - - and get some friends in there to help you clean the place up. Hey, at least you have your very own room! ;)
     
  12. kidatheart

    kidatheart Habitué

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    Aug 22, 2009

    Good for you Zoom!!! LOL
     
  13. AspieTeacher

    AspieTeacher Comrade

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    Aug 25, 2009

    Peach,

    I have the OPPOSITE problem from you. I am OVERWHELMED with furniture that I don't have any use for. I'm having a horseshoe table removed, 3 long rectangular tables taken out, and a dresser bureau sent back to the main warehouse. It's taken at least 2 weeks to begin cleaning and getting it back into work mode for the next school year too. I have tons of cabinets which are loose that I don't need either. I support students with severe-profound multiple disabilities and they need to be positioned on the floor, and taken out of their wheelchairs too. Their functional levels don't work with the furniture that I have in my current room. The furniture movers are taking their time right now which can be frustrating when trying to get things done on time.
     

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