New resource room teacher who needs serious help!

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by amc1988, Jan 5, 2011.

  1. amc1988

    amc1988 Rookie

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    Jan 5, 2011

    Hey, everyone. I have been reading the forums for awhile, but I just joined. I was lucky enough to get a job in this economy - a 4th, 5th, and 6th grade resource room teacher at a charter school. It is good pay and everything was great until I actually got IN the classroom.. it has been nothing but problems since then.

    - I have 9 kids in the classroom at a time, BY MYSELF. With no aide. A lot of these kids have behavior problems/need constant help and attention and I can just not give it to them if it is only me in the classroom! I have 4th graders and 6th graders in my room at the same time. One of my 4th graders is reading on a Pre-K level, and my 6th graders read on level. I can't do centers because no one can be left alone, but I can't work with them all at the same time! The levels/content/behaviors are too much for that.

    - My school doesn't have a curriculum, so I am pretty much just expected to make everything up off the top of my head. Because I have so many levels, I have to make a bazillion lesson plans per day and nothing goes as planned and I need to make tests and homework and I am so overwhelmed!

    I am at my wits end. It is my second week on the job and I want to quit. I am willing to put in hard work, but I am getting no support from my school and I don't know what to do. Does anyone have any advice for me? Am I incompetent, or am I being taken advantage of? I don't think it is normal to have that many kids in a small room with one teacher.. especially when some of my kids can not read or write and others are on grade level!

    PLEASE HELP ME!! How can I get my act together? I want to survive the year but at the rate I am going, it's not looking good..
     
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  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Jan 6, 2011

    You are in a resource room, right? So these students should be taught by the general education teachers. You should only be working on helping them with this material or modifying the material to their needs. These students should be in the general education setting most of their day (not your room!)

    So, you may be being taken advantage of....
     
  4. Joelg1980

    Joelg1980 Companion

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    Jan 6, 2011

    I concur with "Mopar". How much time are the kids spending in your room? I am also resource teacher, but I have no room. I am basically a nomad finding empty rooms to work. Anyway, if the students are labled as "resource" their interactions with you should be limited to supporting their teachers by modifying the curriculum. Your curriculum should, in theory image that of the the general classroom. I'm curious to see where this goes....
     
  5. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Jan 6, 2011

    Are there other special ed teachers at your school? You may want to get together and create a department that works together. It sounds like they are blending kids at levels that are too diverse. Your day needs to be structured so you can actually work with the kids. I'd create a schedule that will work for you and bring it to whoever does the scheduling at your school. See if you can work together to create something more practical. Sometimes scheduling is done by people who don't understand how special ed is supposed to run. They may not understand the purpose of a resource room.
     
  6. DaveG

    DaveG Companion

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    Jan 6, 2011

    I can definitely relate to what you're going through.

    Resource varies widely depending on the model you use. I work at the high school level and, yes, while one part of my job is to modify curriculum in the gen.ed setting, I also teach two resource periods during the day.

    Our school uses a 'flexible delivery model' which essentially means we make up lessons on our own and implement services in the way we see fit - essentially it becomes a supervised study hall. This can be extremely difficult to manage since students are all at varying levels, take different subjects and work at different paces on different activities.

    Hang in there - it will get better when you learn the ropes and start to get your feet wet. It will continue to be difficult and it really isn't a position for everyone. If I could do it again, I definitely would have chosen to avoid resource for my first year of teaching.
     
  7. Tutor

    Tutor Comrade

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    Jan 6, 2011

    Resource room usually means support not full time teaching. Do you have these kids all day? If so, yes you are being taken advantage of. Why did they hire mid-year?
     
  8. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Jan 6, 2011

    I'm a resource teacher and I agree with Mopar that you are certainly being taken advantage of.

    I work with up to 6 kids at a time, but they are of the same grade level from the same classroom. I work in small group and after 20 minutes, they head back to their room and my next group comes.

    Can you talk to your principal and come up with a schedule?

    For example, here's mine:

    10:00-10:30 second grade group 1 (from one class)
    10:30-11:00 second grade group 2 (from another class)
    11:00-11:20 sixth grade group 1
    11:20-11:40 sixth grade group 2
    11:40-12:00 sixth grade group 3
    12:00-12:30 prep/lunch
    12:30-12:50 third grade group 1
    12:50-1:10 third grade group 2
    1:10-1:30 fourth grade group 1
    1:30-1:50 fourth grade group 2
    1:50-2:00 break
    2:00-2:20 fifth grade group 1
    2:20-2:24 fifth grade group 2

    I do math resource and we have another teacher who does reading who has similar set up. And we hired a third teacher to do math and reading. How about reading groups in the morning and math groups in the afternoon?

    Why not bring up that these kids are at a disservice and tell him you have a way to reach more kids that will be much more powerful. And show him a schedule, similar to mine.

    My groups range from 4 kids to 6 kids and we work around a horse shoe table.
     
  9. DaveG

    DaveG Companion

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    Jan 6, 2011

    It depends a lot on your district and how their method of delivery for resource is set up.

    I have 24 students on my caseload and have 10 during one period and 13 during the other (one is consult only). The numbers are ridiculously unmanageable for what should be small-group individualized instruction, but the method of delivery the district uses allows for it.
     
  10. amc1988

    amc1988 Rookie

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    Jan 11, 2011

    Hello everyone! Thank you for your replies.

    To answer some questions - I was hired in the middle of the year because the last teacher left for a better job (gee, I wonder why?), I mostly do IEP work and occasionally the work students bring over, I have the groups in my room for 2 hours and 20 minutes, I am only responsible for math and literacy, I am getting absolutely no help or support from anyone, and there is only one other SPED teacher who only has 12 students and can not relate to me.

    I was able to switch my schedule around a little bit starting tomorrow, and I hope it works. I am going to have all my "low" kids in the morning, and the higher kids in the afternoon. This should make it easier for me to plan lessons, but I am still very overwhelmed and don't really know where to begin!

    Any advice for meeting ALL the IEP goals? I am trying my hardest, but this job is wearing me down. It is all I can think about, and I can't deal with the stress. Please help!
     
  11. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Jan 11, 2011

    Use some of the regular education classes to help out with this. For example: as a regular education teacher, I give a weekly math problem solving question to my students. The special education teacher gave her students a sheet that asks them to do each step of the problem solving process on their worksheet. Then she collects their work to see if they followed the steps.

    Another example: I teach writing. In my class, I have my students do a three minute timed writing once a week for all my students. The special education teacher collects her timed writings each week for data. Then, when I'm teaching writing, we conference with the students together to teach their goals.

    Our special education assistant goes in for study hall to check assignment notebooks each day and help certain students pack up. This way the special education teacher is free to work with students.
     
  12. amc1988

    amc1988 Rookie

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    Jan 11, 2011

    Thank you for your fast reply!

    Although I'm hoping my new schedules will improve things, it is still very hard to get work done. Many of my students can not write OR read. It makes for a frustrating readers workshop because not only am I trying to reach IEP goals, I am trying to teach them years worth of work. I will be getting an assistant for 1 hour a day and I am hoping to use him with my low readers so I can actually make some progress.
     
  13. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Jan 11, 2011

    Definitely a good plan. You might need to set yourself up with a schedule. Maybe you can tape record math word problems for them to work on. Maybe the students could listen to a story and work on listening comprehension.

    Best bet is to schedule time to work on each goal of each student every week. This way, if you miss a few, it's no big deal because you will hit them next week. Keep a schedule and highlight each goal once you have worked on it....
     
  14. amc1988

    amc1988 Rookie

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    I am very concerned with the paperwork (moreso than the actual teaching right now, which is terrible but I know as a SPED teacher you need to document, document, document!!)

    Right now I am going through each student's IEP and picking out a goal related to adding/subtracting. Some students are word problems, some are regrouping, some are non, etc. I want to start them with "math journals" of a sort and put some kind of a prompt they need to solve (an easy one) in them. Then I need to figure out some kinds of activities for adding and subtracting! It is hard for me to come up with "fun" activities when I am trying to teach these basic skills.. there are only so many things you can do with adding and subtracting :(
     
  15. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    I agree. A good thing for data is to keep the math journal with the problem a day. Then you do have 5 problems a week for data.

    Your activities don't need to be fun for the students to enjoy them. Let them pick the problem out of a hat, draw two cards from a deck to make a problem, roll dice, throw a ball in a bucket or ring on a mat, etc....
     
  16. amc1988

    amc1988 Rookie

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    Jan 11, 2011

    Yes, I am excited for the math journals. I need to get notebooks for a few students though so hopefully that will be implemented by next week. I was also thinking eventually I could paste a problem in their book for the day - to differentiate because some of their goals are way different.

    I'm sorry for so many questions, but do you think I should pick another skill to focus on besides just their IEP ones? It is very hard for me to plan for so many different things, but I don't want the addition/subtraction to get too repetitive. I am supposed to work on math for an hour and 10 minutes, and my activities never take up the entire time.
     
  17. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Jan 11, 2011

    Do they have another IEP goal. I would focus on the IEP goal and what you need to do to support their learning in the classroom. If they are working on geometry in the classroom, I would spend some of the time reteaching the concepts from the classroom. Ask the classroom teacher to let you know where they need more help or work on a few homework problems with them.

    Do not add more to your plate or theirs. It is a lot for many students to just keep up with the classroom work, let alone adding on addition and subtraction.

    Don't worry about asking questions, that is why we are here!
     
  18. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Jan 12, 2011

    Hey amc1988! Sorry, I seem to be jumping in late here. I am new to the forums as well, but have been here a few times, mainly for resources. I've done both school and after-school work in a couple of different capacities, and thought I'd chime in.

    First, with it being a charter school, I'm guessing yes - the rules and structure are more loose, and you will probably have to figure out more on your own. I've done some work with different charter schools and found there to be some great ones and some not so great ones, but especially in ancillary areas like SPED (not ancillary in my mind, though!), they just don't have the resources to really coordinate a program. Also, having worked in after-school programs before with challenging kids, I feel your pain about being under-resourced.

    Broadly, it sounds like there are both behavioral and academic issues - both inter-related, but maybe needing a slightly different set of strategies.

    I've found in settings where there's a lot of chaos, it can be helpful to work from the big picture down to the details - a general game plan/structure for the whole group will hopefully get you 80% of the way, then there will be smaller or more specific issues to address.

    I think you were wise to split up the group as you did - one of the most challenging tasks as you pinpointed is meeting the individual instructional needs of kids when you have a lot of instructional diversity, and dealing with classroom management as you work with a smaller group of kids. Can I ask how many kids you have in each group now? You may have mentioned it - I may have missed it.

    Instructionally, I really agree with the previous suggestions about keeping tasks small in the beginning - better to have success with 30% of your goals (at least initially) than to have no success and try to meet 100% of them. As the kids start to feel successful, you'll be able to fold more and more into the mix.

    So, my first suggestion - which it sounds like you've started - is to identify the range of skill deficits kids have in both reading and math, and find the lowest point in the group. For example, if you have 4 kids - one needing help with decoding vowel combinations, one blending consonants, and another two decoding multi-syllabic words, I would start with working on consonant blending - that will be the most basic of the skills in focus, and won't leave anyone out. The others will feel more successful, and the lowest will receive the needed help.

    If you find that the skill range of the kids is just too broad, there are some strategies I might use to break that group up into subgroups - what is the current state of things now? Do you think the groups are homogenous enough to work together?

    Finally - with instruction - this is another question - are they any funds at all available to you? Even a few hundred dollars? There are some good curricula out there that can be amazingly cheap - they require some creativity, but at least would be able to provide structure.

    With IEP goals, I've found that there is sometimes a disconnect between the stated IEP goal, and the actual target skill(s) that needs to be helped. For example, an IEP goal might state that the child needs to improve oral reading fluency with on-grade level passages to 60 by the next review date. While this may be a good goal, there are some more specific sub goals/objectives that might be more important to focus on more immediately - to help you get to that goal. Also, IEPs can get out of date really fast - unless there was an IEP this fall, its quite possible the last IEP was last spring, and is a bit out of date.

    So, overall with instruction, I'd say identify the skill range, and start working on the lowest skill of the group - making it fun/engaging - multi-sensory, etc. If you have some spare money, there may be some curricula to help structure things so you don't have to start from scratch everyday.

    Now, behavior - the fun part :). First, there are two general areas I would suggest you consider - first are the interpersonal dynamics of the group - the relationships between you and kids, between the kids themselves, and between the kids and the rest of the school. Spending time - yes, even instructional time - up front to do build those relationships will enable you to better be able to focus on academics later. Lead a few open discussions - even about non-school related issues, play some group games, do some light teambuilding activities, and ask them to pick out some topics they might want to do a few activities about. The more they like being around you and each other, the lower those walls will get, and you'll have an open door to do more stuff.

    Second - with behavior - I'd most definitely have a very clear system of rewards and consequences with clear and exact ways that kids progress through each. This seems obvious enough, but a lot of people just end that discussion with "flipping cards" or "moving to red," or a list of increasingly serious consequences for increasingly serious behavior. One of the keys to any behavioral system is what I call "ammunition" - make the units of reinforcement and punishment small and plentiful enough that you have a lot to go around. So, for example, some people might be tempted to say, "If you work really hard during class, you can have 10 minutes of free time/computer time/self-selected activities at the end of the morning." Instead, keep a tallymark on the board - every so often if you notice kids are on track, give them a tallymark which equates to 1 minute of group game time at the end (or whatever you chose). Take one away if they aren't working. There are million different systems for doing this, but the key is pick one where its not "all in." On the same level, the most common mistake with behavioral systems is overusing them - a lot of teachers find that after a certain amount of time (a few weeks to a few months), the behavior system stops working - kids are getting bored, so just before you feel like they're going to lose interest, switch it up. If you need some books/resources about systems like this, let me know and I can point you in the right direction.

    Bottom line with everything in my mind is this - yes, your setup is unfortunate and not fair, but then again the setup that many teachers have sucks too :). Maybe not always as much as yours, but if you're in education, I've found that you have two choices - leave, or make do. Definitely spend time trying to change the setup in your school, but if that's all you focus on you'll be miserable the rest of this school year, and likely well after that.

    Let me know what you think about these ideas - like I said, big picture first. If you can get both of these big picture strategies in play effectively, you'll notice there will still be problems, but less of them, and more specific ones.

    Last thing I'll say is this - do you ever watch House on TV? If not, its a good show :) - basically, in each episode they spend time on about a dozen theories, assessment techinques, and interventions before they finally hone in on what is right - but, they almost always succeed. Intervention/instruction with kids is the same way - its a puzzle that you have to fit together one piece at a time. If you try some of these things, likely a few parts of them will work, but many will not. If you come back to the forum (or whoever its helpful to talk to), you can start to look at what is working so and what's not, and gradually fit the pieces together to make it work. What really kills progress is when someone says, "I tried that and it didn't work" without looking at the details of how the strategy was implemented and problem-solving how to make it more effective.

    Wow, this post is just way too long - I apologize if you've read this entire post after a crazy day at school!!

    Ed
     
  19. amc1988

    amc1988 Rookie

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    Jan 12, 2011

    Wow Ed, thank you for that reply!

    With my new schedule I will have 8 students in the morning and 7 students in the afternoon (for 2 hours and 20 minutes each) and one group of 3 students in the middle of my day for an hour. The group of 3 is on grade level and although they are behavior problems, they are manageable.

    My 8 kids in the morning are very low. Although they are 4th, 5th, and 6th graders I am trying to teach several of them to read. My stress is not so much coming from the kids, it is all of the planning and paperwork. With so many kids and just me I am having a hard time keeping track of if Student XYZ met her goal on 4/5 trials! Also, alot of the IEPs say that students will be assessed with teacher-made tests.. however, tests do not seem to work in my room. No matter how simple I make them, the students are just NOT testtakers and I am totally at a loss.

    This is all I have ever wanted to do, and I am seriously thinking about giving my notice. I am so totally stressed out, I can't eat or sleep, and I am totally miserable. I am fine when I am with the kids, but when it comes to documenting things and actually providing the paperwork, I am beginning to think I went to school for the wrong thing!

    Thank you so much for your reply
     
  20. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    You mean thanks for the book! :). Seriously, I looked at the length of my post afterward, and it was a tad long :).

    Anyway, so what's you're saying is that you feel comfortable with the behavior and instruction right now, but it's the assessment and measurement, along with planning? Definitely understandable if so.

    First, maybe we can think up a system that would make this more streamlined and easier - so that everyday or at regular intervals you know exactly what needs to be done, and its easier?

    If so, are you did your assessment course cover CBM? If used in the right way, there are some tools in this department that are quick to deliver (they don't feel like tests as much as, well, tests), give helpful feedback/results, and are easy to manage.

    Also - when you mention the 4/5 trials, typically you won't need to measure this on a daily or even weekly basis. Most of the time when an IEP says 4/5 times the kid will do a/b/c, that's something that has to be done by the end of a reporting period, or maybe quarterly - but, you shouldn't have to spend time managing all of those goals on a routine basis.

    Finally, I will say this - 8 kids is too much if you're teaching them how to read on a more intensive level. If they struggle, 5 kids is about the most I'd put in a group.

    One of your concerns before was about what to do with the kids who aren't in the group with you - the simplest thing to say is substantially lower your expectations during this time (make it as fun as possible, easy enough, etc.) - this isn't your battleground - not the place where you will achieve your educational objectives. After things are going smoothly you can build in some supplemental activities, but focus on keeping them happy, having fun, and engaged while you do the real work with the small group you have in front of you. There is a book by Pat Pavelka called "Guided Reading Management" which has a lot of practical suggestions and activities for "center activities" for kids to do independently - may have to be modified slightly for your slightly older group, but there are tons of good, ready to use activities that will keep kids busy. I've used them myself with a group of kids with substantial behavioral difficulty and 3-4 independent centers. Not to say its problem-free, but it has potential.

    The other initial concern will be grouping the kids together - do you have a good sense of which kids are lowest in each of your two different groups? Not lowest in terms of IQ or behavior, but when you look at specific skills they need help with, who needs help with the more basic skills?

    Let me know what you've heard about CBM - there may be some quick, easy ways to start monitoring progress toward those IEP goals without having to assess each one individually everyday.
     
  21. Tutor

    Tutor Comrade

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    Jan 12, 2011

    For reading, Readingatoz.com is my suggestion! I love this website. I'm able to print on level books with comprehension quizzes.

    Don't stress about the 4/5 trials...it should say something on the IEP about how often it needs to be reported. Aim for once a week per kid...and not all the kids on the same day.

    If you have them for 2 hours at a time find LOTS of things for them to do. Kids like this need shorter bursts rather than long assignments. Do you have access to computers? Find some online games for them to play.

    As for math, online games are great. Use the internet for resources.

    As my special ed supervisor said, the IEP is a guide. Dont' try to do everything on it...

    My first year was tough...at 4 years in I am finally starting to feel like a real teacher. :)
     
  22. DaveG

    DaveG Companion

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    I cannot agree more with the suggestion to check out Reading A-Z - awesome resource! I think they might have a science one and some others, too.
     
  23. amc1988

    amc1988 Rookie

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    Jan 12, 2011

    @ Ed - I am not familiar at all with CBM. I just checked out the website, but since it seems to be all online I'm not sure how much help it will be to me. I will look into it further though.

    @ Tutor - I actually signed up for ReadingA-Z last week at the suggestion of another teacher! I have been using it a little bit, not as much as I would like to yet. I have been focusing on using the school's textbooks (Harcourt Storytown?) but once I start getting into the swing of things, I will definitely be using the leveled books and lessons and assessments! So many cool resources on that site!

    I went out tonight and bought some organizational things to really get myself organized. I now have a binder for each one of my 3 groups. In each binder I am going to put their IEPs, their "weekly IEP work logs" (my school requires them), and some kind of a running record where I can keep track of how they are meeting their goals.

    Lots of deep breaths and reading forums seems to be how I am getting by day to day :) Thank you for all your responses and support, I appreciate it so much.. I just can't wait til it gets a little easier!
     
  24. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Jan 12, 2011

    Remember-it will get easier! Things are probably already better!
     
  25. kidatheart

    kidatheart Habitué

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    Jan 12, 2011

    The resource programs in my school run like self contained classrooms. I am in middle school, we are departmentalized.
    I have to teach a core of Language Arts and a core of Math. Students stay with me for the whole period - they don't go to the regular ed classroom at all.
    Fortunately, each grade in the middle school has it's own resource room so while we have to differentiate for our students, it's not as bad as a multi-grade resource center.
     
  26. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Wow....we call this pull out for reading and math. Some students only have pull out for one or the other....but it's not resource in my building.
     
  27. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Indeed, it will get better! The main reason is that you are being proactive, looking for solutions, seeking advice, and moving forward - that predicts success more than anything else.

    So, I just edited this post after thinking more about that readinga-z suggestion above. I initially posted some follow up information about CBM, including a website called "Intervention Central" (first link when you google it) - its all free. I like those assessments a bit more than readinga-z, but since you're already on readinga-z I would go with that, especially since you've already spent the money!

    They have an assessment system that's very similar to running records/CBM - all in the same general field. They also have some decent lesson plans for teaching specific phonics skills, along with pretty good decodable/leveled books as well.

    One thing that people often leave out or pay not enough attention to with running records, though, is the error analysis - sometimes called miscue analysis. Looking more closely at specific errors kids are making will help you figure out what specific reading skills to look for. Some people just do the guided reading component - reading leveled books with kids in successively higher increments, but a lot of kids need that more specific instruction in phonics, etc. Readinga-z has some resources in this area with materials for teaching things decoding skills, for example.

    At least in the reading department, this should definitely help structure up that time, give kids specific instruction they need, and improve overall order and behavior.

    Finally, sorry for inundating you will all of my ideas - I've been in a similar situation before, and have seen too many great people and would-be great teachers leave the profession, or worse - stay and become jaded and ineffective - because they don't have the support and resources they need. Thanks for indulging my desire to help :).
     
  28. amc1988

    amc1988 Rookie

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    Jan 12, 2011

    @ Ed - I would LOVE any forms or anything you would like to email me! I am trying to figure out the easiest way to do the running record and I would love to look at any example.

    I am going to look into the CBM stuff this weekend. I am so exhausted and overwhelmed that I don't even want to think about anything tonight, but thank you for the resource and I will definitely check it out.

    Everyone else - they consider what I do "pull out" at my school. They get pulled for 2 hours and 20 minutes a day for just reading, writing, and math, and they also get push-in in the classroom for about an hour a day. Some of the students are in their regular classrooms for reading, writing, and math too so I am a little confused about this school. It seems they are not so much interested in student success with the situations they are putting students into!
     
  29. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Jan 12, 2011

    Hey - so sorry - I changed my post on you! My comments up there should still be valid. If you're interested, yes - that CBM stuff is good stuff, and there's always more to learn, but starting with something manageable is probably more important, and that readinga-z site I think would be ideal for being manageable.

    That sounds normal for pull out - a typical pull-out/resource class in different states I've worked is 60 minutes in a particular subject, although not necessarily stacked back-to-back like that. And, yes - there is often not good coordination between the times kids are pulled out - kids are often pulled out right in the middle of lessons, and dropped off in the middle of another! There are some schools that are better at this, but your experience is by no means unique in that department unfortunately.

    Take a look at that CBM stuff this weekend - AFTER you have decompressed, relaxed, and gone out! If you want some of those forms, I'll send them your way :). Enjoy a peaceful night!
     
  30. jedipwnces

    jedipwnces Rookie

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    Jan 28, 2011

    You are not alone... this is the JOB. And it sucks sometimes. The fun part of my day is working with the kiddos. :) It's all the rest that makes the job un-fun.

    I think it will get better for you. I think the first year is supposed to be miserable. I say that seriously. I've never spoken to a teacher who was not miserable for his/her first year of teaching. Misery is the norm. It's just hard! It's hard to juggle, it's hard to learn everything you have to learn WHILE you're doing it, it's hard to develop systems for your room that will work... it's hard to work with other adults, sorry to say... it's hard not to get to eat a decent lunch or sleep decent hours or have a life outside of the job. But from what I hear, things improve with time and experience. I hope your situation now is less frustrating than it was when you originally posted...

    Wishing the best for you this school year, internet friend! :love:

    Good luck!
     
  31. karebear76

    karebear76 Habitué

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    Feb 1, 2011

    I send you many hugs! I completely understand, as do the other members here, and sympathize. All of us at one point or another, perhaps even right now, have been in your shoes. The hardest things about the spec ed profession are time management, IEP documentation, and all the related paperwork. I am in my 11th year and still shake things up. I try different strategies all the time until I find something that works. I've also been in the position of having to create materials all the time. I teach 4th grade only now, and have for 9 years. However I taught 6-7-8 my 2nd year, and K-6 (at 2 different schools daily) my first. I also have had as many as 23 4th graders to teach in one school year (about half - 2/3 at same class period) Sorry for the book but just giving some background.

    Here are some things I've done in the past with varying learners.
    * grouping similar levels together when possible
    * finding/developing seatwork to allow me to do groups within those larger groups - even my lowest ever could write spelling words independently, or build them with magnetic letters then trace onto writing paper.
    * keeping student journals to document running records (I used composition books one year, pasted IEP goals on inside cover, conferenced with student about them, and kept running records for reading
    * math problem of the day, even if it is simple + (up to 5 problems; have students illustrate the number sentence and solve)
    * class binder: one binder with tabs: one for class data, then one for each student. student tabs had all needed forms for documentation: sight word checklist, oral reading documentation, phone log for parent contacts, basic math facts fluency data graphs, copy of IEP (this year I have my teacher binder with tabs for plans, copies of grade reports, charts for reading program, scope & sequence charts, calendar, and single page student IEP goals; each student has an individual binder for IEP, and all work samples related to goals, as well as assessment data)

    I hope you are able to find your niche. It's so hard figuring it out because there isn't one right answer. You just have to keep trying new things until something clicks. The important thing is to keep searching. I would also encourage you to read about teachersk's (she's on here) match cards. I haven't used them yet, but believe they are fantastic. Once you taught the procedure to the whole group, then you can have individual work tasks set up to allow you to work with 3-4 students in a group, then rotate after 15-20 minutes or however long. The match cards can be used to introduce, reinforce, assess specific IEP goals, endless possibilities. Easy to make and use.

    Have a super year! Keep trying and you will find a stride that works for you.
     
  32. NewTeacherNJ

    NewTeacherNJ Rookie

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    Feb 11, 2012

    Maybe you should check your state law, i know where i work you are not allowed to have more than six kids in the resource room by yourself. At #7 you need a teacher aid or paraprofessional in the room with you. Most resource rooms also have a total capacity for the number of students you are allowed to have in the room at a given time. I think where i work is 9 students total.
     
  33. LouiseB

    LouiseB Cohort

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    Feb 11, 2012

    I wish my state had this allowance. We have no limit on caseloads and how many we are to work at one time. You are lucky if you have an understanding administrator!
     
  34. katfzl

    katfzl Rookie

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    Nov 28, 2014

    readingeggs is a SUPER reading program you could use. It is not free, but the district could buy about 30 licenses for a few hundred. It is worth it. The kids love it.
     
  35. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Nov 28, 2014

    The op hasn't been on the forums since 2011. maybe someone else will benefit fom your suggestion, though.;)
     
  36. ecteach

    ecteach Groupie

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    Nov 28, 2014

    Our resource teacher has 17 in one class, and they keep telling her since she has a T.A., it's okay. She also has various grade levels. It makes me so sad for her, because she is a phenomenal teacher who constantly beats herself up because it seems impossible at times.
     
  37. ecteach

    ecteach Groupie

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    Nov 28, 2014

    Shoot. Why didn't I realize that? lol
     
  38. katfzl

    katfzl Rookie

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    Nov 28, 2014

    lol!
     

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