Regular Ed Teachers--Do you really feel like a part of the IEP Team?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by ecteach, Nov 20, 2015.

  1. ecteach

    ecteach Devotee

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    Nov 20, 2015

    I was in the bathroom today, and heard a teacher talking about a kid in her class. She said, "They (inflection on this word) decided he needed math in the resource room, and now he's behind in my room." This teacher attended the meeting, and I specifically asked her if she agreed with the decision, and she said she did. Mom is the one who wanted the child to have the extra time. In my opinion, he really does need it.

    Anyway, this actually made me sad. I get along very well with this teacher. I hate that she felt like "WE" decided this, and she didn't have a choice. I am not upset with the teacher at all, because we all vent, and I've said worse in venting sessions of my own.

    So, as a general ed teacher, do you really feel like you are an important part of the team who can truly voice your opinion?
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    No, I have never felt like I was really part of the team. It always seemed like everyone else had a plan in mind and whatever contributions I tried to make were dismissed, sometimes outright and other times just sort of ignored.
     
  4. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I know we like to say everything is a "team decision" but if I'm being honest gen ed teachers are not really an equal part of the team. Although that's really more because they usually don't understand the legal ins and outs of what qualifies/what goes on an IEP, etc. It's not really that I/other sped team members are just deciding whatever we want, but I'm sure many perceive it that way. It all comes down to what the data says and what we can legally do. I mean, in the situation described in the OP, would you really not give the student resource services if he/she qualified but the gen ed teacher didn't want the student pulled out? We also frequently have situations where teachers want the student to get services in certain areas that they don't qualify for. If they don't qualify, there isn't really anything we can do, but I know many would perceive it as us just not listening to them or not wanting to help the kid. When I taught gen ed, I thought several of my students on IEPs should be getting speech services as part of their IEP because I heard significant articulation issues in class. Of course I brought this up when their meetings came up and the SLP immediately said they'd already been tested and didn't qualify for speech. She can't just add services just because I wanted them.

    We've had issues with goals too. Our state has certain guidelines about goals being connected to standards, being directly related to the impact of the disability, being easily measurable, and being rigorous enough. A lot of times gen ed teachers will ask if I can write a goal that's just not appropriate (not measurable, not tied to the disability, etc.) and I'm sure they perceive as me not listening to them when I say no. I just think that it's really impossible to be an "equal team" unless everyone has the same background knowledge and understanding of everything the team is discussing.
     
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  5. Bibliophile

    Bibliophile Companion

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    I've never felt like an equal part of the team as a teacher or as a parent. As the Gen Ed teacher what's going on in my class doesn't matter if the slp works with kinders m,w,f from 9-10 only. I have a student that misses bulk of our literacy block 3 days a week and as such is falling behind badly in phonics, phonemic awareness, print concepts, and vocabulary but there's nothing to be done about it. If I move my block then all my ELLs will miss it since it would fall into their pull out time and since that's 1/4 of my class including the speach student that wouldnt help either. I try to bring this up but nobody cares. Now they are going to care when he can't read but I don't know what I can do since my opinions don't matter.

    As a parent I've often been treated like an ignorant child. Patted on the head and told I just don't understand. If I don't come in with literature and data to back me up then we just seem to go with what seems like goals and strategies that the resource teacher or school psyche already had before the meeting. I've wondered why they invite the parents if they don't value their opinions. I swear more than once I have been verbally acknowledged and discussion about my concerns or ideas have been talked out but then when the plan is written the things that we talked about aren't put in writing.
     
  6. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Having been both a special ed and a general ed teacher... no, I think they play lip service to the gen ed teacher being part of the team, but they aren't. Especially when it comes to speech/language. I have flat-out stated in a meeting, "there is absolutely no educational impact. I can't hear anything wrong with her speech, the child is communicating normally, and any problems with her speech are not manifesting themselves in the classroom."

    Is there any educational impact? The team all agrees that there is.

    Sigh...
     
  7. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I think this is a reason that sped teachers need to explain the reasons behind the decisions that are made. As waterfall said, sped teachers have the background knowledge that gen ed teachers lack regarding legalities and local district sped policies. At my last school, I put a lot of effort into educating the gen ed teachers as to why and how decisions were made (and, yes, it took some added time on my part). Over time, I gained a lot of respect compared to some of my other sped colleagues, as the gen ed teachers knew that I was on their side and the side of the students but that, sometimes, my hands were tied as to what I could or could not do for a student. Before an eval or IEP meeting, I discussed with teachers what decisions would be made at the actual meeting and explained why their ideas and requests would or would not fly. "I had no idea..." was often the reply I received when I explained all the obstacles in our path to doing the things that just made sense.
     
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  8. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Nov 21, 2015

    Also, I will add that sometimes gen ed teachers give me the impression that they don't want to be part of the team. I'll go out of my way to include them in decisions, share information, and discuss their ideas before a meeting with the parents, and they seem to totally lack interest in the conversation. I've sometimes walked away feeling that I was a nuisance simply for wanting them to be involved in their own student's education plan. After that happens a couple times, I generally stop including them outside of the legally required collaboration at the meetings. I don't want to be a nuisance to someone who really doesn't want to be involved, sad as it is.
     
  9. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I feel my input is considered within parameters. A kid with an IEP who gets replacement LA or math, I'm not going to have much to say...so I defer there...for the kids with IEPS who I am grading in areas addressed on the IEP, I feel my input is more valid and valued.
     
  10. 2ndTimeAround

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    If an IEP or 504 is being created for the first time for a student, my input has a marginal effect. I have had several instances where I've stated that there is no educational impact for a child and the child ends up with documentation anyhow. My district is so afraid of being sued that if a parent cries long/hard enough, she'll get whatever she wants in accommodations.

    If we're having an IEP or 504 review, I have zero impact. I'm there just to make the meeting legal. Everything I say is dismissed.

    It never ceases to amaze me that we have this long drawn out process to GET a 504/IEP started, with documentation from medical professionals and data showing what accommodations work, but when it is review time, they can tack on any accommodation that seems interesting at the time. No data needed for add-ons.

    For the record, when it comes to secondary students, the general ed teacher has far more idea what is going on with most sped students than their caseworkers. About 10-20% of the time I've been the only school staff member at a meeting that the student even knows.
     
  11. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Not really.
     
  12. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    NO! My opinion does not matter! Our special education director told a parent once, "Mrs. M is just a classroom teacher and she doesn't know anything." I refuse to attend a meeting with him anymore by myself. My principal sits in all meetings that I have with him.

    I have multiple degrees. I spend hours and hours with these kids. I feel that I should have a louder voice than I do...and as far as the post that said that general education teachers don't know the law, that is not true. I read the law and keep current on it. I feel that it is my responsibility.
     
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  13. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I'm thinking about the last IEP meeting I sat in on. It was for a student with a severe physical impairment. While he had no issues with processing or output, his impairment affected how he could receive information. Most of his accommodations had to do with allowing him access to medical equipment that would improve reception of information.

    During the meeting, someone on the team suggested that the student could benefit from extended time on assignments and a reduction in the amount of work assigned to the student. The student flat-out stated that he didn't need or want those on his IEP. I agreed with the student and said that I felt that he didn't need that and was/could be successful without those accommodations. The team went ahead and added them to the IEP. Why? No one ever clarified that for me. Seriously, if the only reason I am present at the meeting is to consider the classroom impact of the student's impairment, then why is my professional opinion on that very topic dismissed? It's frustrating and it feels like a waste of my time to be ignored after being asked for my input.
     
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  14. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    That's great that you invest the time to know and understand the law. I wish all teachers did. There at so many intricacies, though, regarding how students qualify, what services and accommodations/modifications they are eligible for, the timeline, etc., and so most teachers usually don't. That said, all teachers should be treated as an equal member of the team. As I said in my previous post, if something they suggest is denied, then the reason why should be explained.
     
  15. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I always explain why we decide certain things or why I can't honor requests too, but the teachers don't like the answer so they're still upset. It's really rare for me to get a response like, "Oh, I had no idea." They usually just keep arguing with me or shut down. I've had some big breakthroughs with the gen ed teachers that work with me on the RtI team because they've seen the same scenarios over and over. I do feel like they really "get it" but I can't say that for anyone else in the building. We have assessment conferences with teachers before tris or initials to explain the testing data and what the child qualifies for so the teacher can be prepared going into the meeting. This is what I don't like about saying it's a "team decision." Truthfully it's not even my decision either, but I know it's perceived that way. Either the data shows that the child qualifies or it doesn't. It's really only our decision if the data is very borderline and could go either way, but that's a rare situation. Same for parents- they can refuse services if they want, but it's not like we can add things just based on a parent request.
     
  16. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I should have clarified - It's only after having several conversations and really earning the other teachers' respect that I get the "I had no idea..." response. As you said, in the beginning, it doesn't matter what I say; they won't accept it. I sometimes think that they like to think of sped teachers as the scapegoat for the fact that we have a subset of students for whom the gen. ed. curriculum isn't appropriate but who also don't qualify for sped.

    Yeah, when it comes to determining if a student qualifies, it really is a data decision. The only time I can think of that we really discussed qualifying as a team is when a student could have qualified for LD or ED, and we had to decide which was the primary disability and which was secondary. That was a team decision, but, in general, we do what the data says. Our team decisions are more likely to made during IEP meetings when discussing services, accommodations/modifications, and goals. Obviously those have to be aligned to the disability, but there is always some wiggle room that that team could discuss but rarely does.
     
  17. Bibliophile

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    I get what you guys are saying but what about if you're doing pull out for a kid that's already qualified and the teacher says that it will negatively impact them to be out during a critical time of instruction. Do most rsp's or slp's even take this into consideration. In my experience it's just "too bad, so sad that's the time that I have available" and then the child is so far behind in my class that I know they will not be able to make it up in a reasonable amount of time. I get that you are required to give a number of minutes and this child is not the only one on your caseload but do you really listen to the Gen Ed teacher if she says your helping might also be hurting.
     
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  18. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I think this is a separate issue from the IEP process. Like... I have two students that are getting speech service (one that should be exited but what do I know... I only hear the child talk for 20+ hours a week and am the only member of the team that actually sees her in both academic and social settings...). The one I have that definitely needs speech service, I totally agree she needs 2 hours a month... no arguments to be had there. If the SLP were to try to take the student out of my math block, her and I would have words... but it wouldn't be an IEP issue. The student still needs 2 hours a month of service. I'd agree that the SLP needs to consider when they are servicing a child, but the when isn't a question for the IEP team.
     
  19. bella84

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    I agree with gr3teacher. Scheduling isn't a team decision. The decision on exactly what time to provide the services is determined outside of the IEP meeting. It can be determined collaboratively between the classroom teacher and the sped teacher/RSP, but it's not a decision that is to be made during the official IEP team meeting when the parents, admins, and everyone else are seated at the table. IMO, the team should discuss the schedule, but that's not the way it works at present time, and it's not always realistic for the schedule to work the way that is most ideal anyway.

    Unfortunately, schedules don't always work perfectly, and students may have to miss part of a lesson that isn't ideal. I say this with experience as both a sped teacher and a classroom teacher: It's often much easier for a classroom teacher to rearrange his/her schedule than it is for a sped teacher/RSP. An individual classroom teacher can move a whole-group lesson and small group lessons around within his/her own classroom, whereas a sped teacher/RSP (and other pull-out teachers, such as ESOL, reading, etc.) has to work around multiple teachers' schedules. So, yes, a teacher's requests regarding scheduling are considered, but they are not always manageable. I would encourage you to try thinking about how you can structure your day to ensure that students get what they need when they are in the room.
     
  20. Bibliophile

    Bibliophile Companion

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    I wish I could but the choice for me has to be between puting the reading block when 1 child gets slp 3 days a week or when 7 students get pulled out for second Language support daily. sometimes classroom teachers have just as many special schedules to keep with as service providers do.

    Not to mention there is no topic that any of my students can miss 3 days a week and still keep up in.
     
  21. bella84

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    Oh, I know that. Last year, as a classroom teacher, I had something like 14-17 other teachers and paras who I had to work with and schedule around. It was a lot, but I made it work. It sounds like, between the two, you're choosing the right thing. Is it possible that you could do your small group reading when the student is being pulled out and see his group on the opposite days? That way, he won't miss your whole group lesson, and he is only missing independent activities when he is pulled. I agree with your point that everything you teach is important for students to learn in order to keep up, which is why it's great to do small group lessons and interventions/enrichment when students are pulled. In most classrooms, teachers have to do those things anyway, so you might as well do them when some of your students are receiving interventions/enrichment from other teachers outside of the classroom.
     
  22. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    It's nice that some of you have meetings to show data before the ARD. Many times this year, the special ed and general ed teachers have been surprised by the diagnosticians.

    I'm used to being blindsided during ARDs but I think it's ridiculous for the special ed teacher to be blindsided. Someone dropped the ball and needs to work on communication!
     
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  23. Bibliophile

    Bibliophile Companion

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    I have to do small groups At a specific time per school policy since this is when we have our aide for RTI and they want our RTI group to alway have facilitated learning and not independant work but the specialists only work during limited hours too. They are all sub contracted from the private sector. It's a rock hard place thing, Im just flustered that they are so nonchalant about it. Like "well the slp only comes to our school at for the first two hours of the day so there's nothing we can do about it ". He also has a lot of behavior problems so I hate for him to fall behind since it only makes his behavior problems worse. The student that I am thinking specifically of has his service time when he does because he refuses to participate in speach in small groups and will only participate 1 on 1 so he gets the time slot when he most likely to participate which just happens to be the time no other teacher wants to give up since it is such a productive time. First hour of the day. Also since he won't participate they said he is finding it too stressful some needs more help and thus more hours even thought the intern that does his speach and I both agree that he is speaking pretty clearly, but it's hard to assess him since he refuses to participate.

    In truth there may just not be a fix for this case for team or for me and I think that this frustrates me. I know that the whole school cannt revolve around the needs of my one student-logically-but I just wish there was an easy fix.
     
  24. Peregrin5

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    We're asked to attend the meetings, and provide our input on how they're doing in our class, and what grades they have, but we're not really asked much beyond that. Nor would I be equipped to provide much beyond that. I completely trust our SPED team to make the best decisions for the accommodations for each student. We (the gen ed teachers) usually leave immediately after providing the information on their progress in our class and before they even start talking about accommodations.

    I don't think anyone really cares. We're all willing to do whatever accommodations as necessary. It's part of the job.
     
  25. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Although it happens all over the place, it's really not legal for gen ed teachers to leave in the middle of the meeting, without getting written consent from the parents. Aside from the legal issue, in my experience, the accommodations/modifications portion of the IEP is one of the most important portions to discuss with the gen ed teacher. As a special ed teacher, I don't know what the instruction looks like in the gen ed classroom. Therefore, I, alone, can't determine what accommodations are appropriate. That is one part where I really do need to get collaboration and feedback from the gen ed teacher... unless, of course, we want to just have a lengthy list of meaningless A/M that cover almost any student with or without a disability. I prefer to have a short list of realistic and meaningful accommodations that the gen ed teacher is actually able to implement and that will actually level the playing field for the student, but, all too often I feel like I'm in the minority. As a gen ed teacher, I like to be included in that conversation so that I can fully understand what is meant by the listed accommodation, since they are not always worded in a clear way.
     
  26. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Scheduling is a nightmare. We have "pull out blocks" for each grade level and I have to fit my schedule into those. Teachers know when the pull out blocks are well before the start of school each year, so if there is something they really don't want kids to miss, they can schedule around it. I've also always offered for teachers to switch their time with another grade level if they feel the time doesn't work with them. No one has ever taken me up on that. I'm not sure if anyone has even tried but I'm sure as soon as they did they would figure out that the time is already that way for a reason and there is no other possible time that their entire grade level team can agree on and an entire other grade level team can agree to change. Most of my kids are two years behind or more, so they're honestly not getting much out of whole group instruction anyway. I can understand that it would be different for a speech only kid that didn't have any academic issues, but our speech only kids usually only get a half hour of services per week so that wouldn't make too big of an impact.
     
  27. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    They don't get written consent, but they do ask the parents, "Is it okay for the general Ed teachers to leave now because we don't want to use up their time?" I didn't know it was legally not okay to leave. The parents always say yes or just have a few questions for us before we leave.

    As for the accommodations, they're usually run of the mill. More time on tests, preferential seating, etc. The SPED teacher makes up a hand out that they give to us after the meeting informing us of what accommodations they've chose. It's usually a checklist with any notes to clarify anything.

    I teach Middle School, and we only have like one or two gen ed teachers per IEP meeting (out of 6), so all of the other teachers would need to be informed in the same way of the accommodations anyway. I don't see a problem with it. If the SPED teacher thinks we need more clarification, she will tell us personally.

    I appreciate being able to leave early because most of the meeting is bureaucratic junk or the parent getting super argumentative with whomever (usually not us).
     
  28. bella84

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    Yeah, I guess that, in middle or high school, it would be more difficult, since you have multiple teachers to communicate with. In elementary, I really like to be able to discuss those A/M at the meeting with the teacher. And, yeah, my last district told us we were to stop a meeting immediately if one of these things happened: 1) the gen ed teacher left without written consent, 2) the principal/LEA left without written consent, 3) the parents brought a lawyer, or 4) the parents brought a recording device to record the meeting. I totally agree with your "bureaucratic junk" comment. So much of sped is these days! I was just talking to someone the other day about how what is in the IEP isn't what is always best for a student but that we have to put it in there and implement it anyway.
     
  29. catnfiddle

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    I tend to be active in IEP meetings because I work very closely with my SpEd counterparts and our shared students. I know I'm in the minority and other teachers in my department tend to zone out during meetings. Me, I'd rather pay active attention so I know what I need to do to hold up my end of the IEP as well as what accommodations I can / should / must offer. It helps me to plan curriculum differentiation and scaffolding if I am aware of student needs.
     
  30. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    :confused:
    Our diagnostician pushes for twenty or more accommodations per child. o_O Many are things that I do for every child regardless of ability like check for understanding and simplify directions. I prefer for the accommodations to be five or six things I am doing especially for that child. I like to document all the accommodations I do and it's impossible to document 24 per kid!
     
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  31. monsieurteacher

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    Yes. But I have been on both sides, so I understand the ins and outs of the Resource teachers (or special education teachers). I take a very large role in developing their plans.
     
  32. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    In our IEPs, the accommodations are to be things we do specifically for that child, not the "good teaching" accommodations that teachers do every day. The only time I did differently, was when teachers wouldn't do them if they weren't in the IEP.
     
  33. teacherintexas

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    Which is how it should be.
     
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  34. Linguist92021

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    It's hard for me to say as our school is so small, we're a team, no matter what. There is one teacher per content level for all grades, so I'm the only English teacher for grades 9-12, and so on. We have 1 Sped teacher, several TAs, office staff and admin.
    We attend all IEP meetings, or at least email the Sped teacher with our input if we can't attend.
    As far as being a part of them team in making decisions, I feel that my input is valuable but I don't really want to be involved in making big decisions, I think the Sped teacher and admin are more equipped to do that, I don't know the laws and everything that goes into serving the kids' needs.
    But I am completely content and satisfied with how everything is :)
     
  35. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    I often feel like the only reason I'm there is to sign the paper at the end of the meeting.
     
  36. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I hate the rare meetings when I'm treated as a rubber stamp.
     
  37. 2ndTimeAround

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    I've been to many IEP meetings where I've flat out said that something will not work in a gen ed classroom setting and have been dismissed completely. Then when I implemented the ridiculous accommodation the student's behavior and grades dropped. But did they revise the IEP? Nope, just kept adding on other stuff to "try" without any data to back up the new accommodations.

    Some accommodations are impossible to implement and should have never been part of the IEP to start. IEPs should be written in general enough terms that they provide support for a child no matter what school/classroom he is in. I actually had a student whose IEP stated I was to meet with him for private tutoring from X:XX am to X:XX am every morning. Uh, had a class during that time! It was something his previous school set up according to their schedule.

    The majority of my sped colleagues are awesome. They want what is best for everyone and don't consider students on their caseload to be any more important than the other students in the room. They are smart and reasonable. I really appreciate working with people like that. It took a while for us to weed out some of the not-so-stellar sped teachers at my school.
     
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  38. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Nov 25, 2015

    I actually prefer to have accommodations/modifications written in very specific ways so that it is clear how and when they are to be used. When they are written in general terms, each teacher might interpret them very differently, leading to varying levels of support for the student. I think this is especially true in those cases where only one out of several secondary teachers are able to attend the meeting and be part of the discussion or when the teachers leave before the discussion gets to that point. That said, I don't think that private tutoring is really an accommodation or modification... It doesn't sound like something that belongs in an IEP no matter how specific or general you are getting.

    Also, it's important to note that any time a student moves into a new school and definitely when they move into a new district, the receiving school has an opportunity to "accept" or "reject" the current IEP that the student brings with him/her. The IEP can be rejected for just about any reason; having minutes or a schedule that doesn't fit the new school is one of them. The same is true for student evaluations that qualified them for special education. It sounds like your school needed to reject and rewrite that IEP since it didn't align to your school's schedule. In my experience, if a student transferred from within our district, we generally accepted the IEP, but, if they transferred from a school district elsewhere in the state, we would almost always reject and rewrite the IEP to fit our school and have it on our paperwork. In the cases where they transferred from another state, we usually not only rejected and rewrote the IEP but also the student's evaluation. Not all states follow the same eligibility criteria, so we were directed by our superiors to re-evaluate and make sure that the student was eligible in our state.
     
  39. geoteacher

    geoteacher Habitué

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    Nov 25, 2015

    I do feel like a part of the team. I definitely give my input with regard to student performance and accommodations. I realize that I am only one member of the team, but I am the one who sees the student's performance in a larger classroom setting. I am often the one who can best speak to how the student functions in this setting.
     
  40. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Nov 25, 2015

    I'll share another example from the teacher across the hall. She had so many students with 504s and IEPs in her room. Almost all of the paperwork (this was years ago before we got our stellar team on campus) she had said that every one of those students needed to be seated "up front" or "closest to the teacher." She went to several meetings where she said that #1 - it was impossible to have several students seated in the same seat and #2 - "up front" didn't serve the students the best and tried to explain why. She was dismissed and forced to place the students away from where the real work was to be done. We have "up front" defined for us at our school to keep classes consistent for testing purposes. She couldn't just say that the side board was "up front." She couldn't keep kids away from the windows where their friends were out in the hall trying to distract them. She had to place them were they actually were having a harder time. But hey, gotta keep it legal. The Sped team refused to listen to her concerns and brushed them off as though she was just being difficult.
     
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  41. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Nov 25, 2015

    I've had a very similar experience. When you've got twelve students with IEPs in a class and all of the IEPs stipulate "front row seating", it gets tricky. This is especially true when the seating arrangement does not include rows, per admin directive. Where is the front row in a room without rows? Where are the "front" seats in a room with a central focal point? Are they the seats closest to the center, making them totally in the middle of all the action, noises, and distraction? What if there aren't twelve seats in that area? Violate the IEP and face legal consequences. Violate an administrative directive and get terminated. Ask for clarification from either admin or the sped team and get ignored.

    I once saw an IEP with accommodations stipulating that the teacher should not allow the student to smoke or consume marijuana on school premises during the school day. I so wish I had taken a picture of it. I also wish that I could have been a fly on the wall in that IEP meeting....
     

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