How often do you get to collaborate/attend PD with just other special ed teachers?

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by waterfall, Mar 3, 2012.

  1. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Mar 3, 2012

    I have "collaboration time" with other elementary mod needs teachers literally once or twice a year. I'm the only one in my building since I'm K-5, so the only time I get to talk to other teachers is when we're all together as a district and they actually let us meet together instead of going with the classroom teachers (usually, we are told to "listen in" on the classroom teacher discussion because we need to know what goes on in the classroom). I think it's SO much more valuable than the time I have to spend in my building with classroom teachers (basically 2.5 hours of PD and/or collaboration a week). We had about 30 minutes together and even that was just great- time to talk about what programs we have in the district, what we're doing in class, strategies we've seen that work, etc. So do you get time for this in your school, or are you stuck with the classroom teachers all of the time too?
     
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  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Mar 3, 2012

    Our school sets up monthly special services meetings (special education teachers and related service personnel). However, the special education teachers that I have worked with have all said that the meetings with the general education teachers are more informative and they get more accomplished. When I was a special education teacher I thought very much on the same lines.

    These monthly meetings are during the school day and pull our special education teachers and related service providers out of the school for about 1.5 hours a month.
     
  4. bethechange

    bethechange Comrade

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    Mar 3, 2012

    Honestly I do a lot of collabroation on my own time. Not ideal, and I know not everyone has the ability to do this, but for success for my students, it is the way it has to be. I meet with the OT every Thursday morning for half an hour before our contracted time starts. Speech and I do a lot of kicking stuff around on the fly, since she is in my room daily. Gen ed and I meet every other Monday morning, half an hour early. It scares the crap out of me to think about what I will do when I have my own kids.

    I have fought and scratched and clawed to try to get excused from some of the stupid pointless PD we are all expected to go to (things that only concern general ed) and instead focus on collaboration with like team members (special ed people serving mod/severe population). I think it is slowly getting better. This year, our director reserved 3 of the 9 required staff development times for us to do this. Myself and two other teachers in the district were in charge of leading it, so we're working on evidence-based practices for students with autism (from the national professional development center). We don't always have a very good administrative chain of communication at our school, and there's been lots of turnover in the last two years. Once this year, there was very clear email communication about where all the general ed teachers should go on a PD day, but none for special ed. So I just kept my mouth shut and didn't go anywhere, and instead used that time to work on setting up community instruction trips. Probably terrible to admit that, but I don't care. I am there plenty that I am not paid for and give my heart and soul to my job, so if they want to gripe about 1.5 hours of staff development that I "missed" let them.

    Slowly but surely it is getting better, but I have fought for it hard. Sometimes I get so tired of being the squeaky wheel.
     
  5. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I wish I could do the same, bethechange. This week I had to come in for our weekly PD (90 minutes before school starts, which in itself is annoying) about supporting advanced learners in the classroom. Really? I'm sorry, but I don't have any advanced learners that are finishing way before everyone else and understanding things before I teach them. During the "work time" I at least just worked on IEPs rather than planning gifted activities, which luckily the presenter understood.

    We have this 90 minutes before school once a week, and I can probably count on one hand in the past two years the times I thought it was really beneficial to me. Generally there is some kind of presentation and then you're supposed to collaborate with your grade level team. Maybe if we had more sped teachers and I was actually on a grade level team, it might be better.

    I just find it frustrating that they're getting all of this time to collaborate and plan together and talk about what's best for the kids, which is so beneficial for them, and I never get to do that for my job. I have no idea what ideas the other sped teachers in the district have- any "new" thing has to be researched myself, which I personally feel isn't as good as just hearing from other "real" teachers who have done it in their classrooms.
     
  6. bethechange

    bethechange Comrade

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    Mar 3, 2012

    That sucks, waterfall. I totally know where you are coming from.

    Have you tried approaching your admin or sped coordinator about this? I have found that administrators, too, are often overwhelmed, overworked, and underinformed about every aspect of the entire school. In my experience, the default setting is to tell you to do what everyone else is doing because they don't have a better idea or plan and they don't want to get in trouble.

    I have found that if I approach administrators with a positive attitude and a really specific plan or solution to a problem, it gets me a lot further. Instead of, "why do I have to go to this PD that doesn't apply to me," maybe, "hey, I have this great idea, I want to to a PD study on XXXXXX topic or curriculum with Teacher A and Teacher B from the middle school who are using it in their classrooms. It would benefit our school and students by XXXXXX and I am REALLY excited about it." That way they have a harder time saying no because you have shown initiative and you have put the thought into it.

    This has not happened for me overnight.......I've been in my current district for 6 years and working on it pretty hardcore for the past 3. I am 100 percent confident that if no one had ever pushed for differentiated PD, it would never have happened here. Different people have different ideas about what is acceptable.......and special ed always gets the leftovers. Some admin recognize that we are not all gen ed teachers and some don't. Can't hurt to try, try, and try again.

    Also, if you try this approach and you run up against a wall, try asking (politely) if they can help you understand what objectives the admin would like you to meet through the standard gen ed PD you are attending in relation to special education students?

    Again.........grrrrrrrrrrr...........I empathize! Be the rebel and keep fighting the good fight.
     
  7. ciounoi

    ciounoi Cohort

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    Mar 3, 2012

    I work for an intermediate unit, so the special ed employees are spread out over many districts in two counties! Aside from beginning of the year stuff, PD is optional due to some kind of weird extention law that's in effect right now. However, a LOT of PD is offered... we're talking like multiple times a week because the intermediate unit services so many districts. If I wanted to, I could get a whole lot of PD in, most targeted towards special ed.
     

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