To Those of You Who Teach Life Skills/Autism/CI/Severe/Profound/etc. in a Middle School Setting: (Zoom!) This has been discussed before but never actually resolved. I am bringing it back in the name of figuring out what on earth to do for my poor kiddos. Background: I teach in a severe/profound autism class in a public school. This past year (2009-2010) was the first year that the district has had such a program (the kids graduated from the elementary program and needed a place to go). They hired me to "start up" this program. Everything went fantastically. The kids are doing well, the aides are awesome, everyone is impressed with the program, we even had a kid come back from an out-of-district placement to be in our classroom because the parent loved the class. Problem: The electives teachers have never had to deal with severe to profound kids included in their classes (as this is the first year). We have some other self-contained classrooms at the school, but the kids are much higher-functioning (more like mild/moderate cognitive impairments, ADHD, LD, etc.) These kids are able to switch from class to class on their own, don't need supervision in the hallways, can complete the regular classwork at a modified level, etc. The electives teachers weren't really given any training, although I don't know how it works in other areas of the country. They had a "generic" autism training where the school admin told them what autism is, what the prevalence is, etc. but nothing really related to teaching. Bigger Problem: The teachers didn't want them in their classes. They said that they "couldn't" be there, "should be in a different school," "might bite me," etc. It was appalling! I was very sad, to say the least. Everything went SO WELL last year, and this is the only thorn in my side. I'm really trying to figure out how they do it in other places. Note: My prep period is their elective period - and it's also their only exposure to regular ed peers. So, with that being said, please do not suggest that they stay in the classroom instead of going to electives (not an option), or that I go with them (also not an option) or that they get Adaptive PE (our district only does APE for physical disabilities.. not autism, so also not an option), or that they do a special class just for them (they would then have ZERO exposure to typical peers, why be in a public school?) Question: What can we do to effectively integrate the kids into electives classes? They do well in PE class, only because they have their own little separate thing going on. If the kids are playing basketball, the aides will bring balls over to the corner of the room and dribble with them, etc. It's the other electives classes that can't handle their differences. Specifically: Art. Sixth grade art is HARD. It's perspectives and other art concepts that I can't even explain because I'm not an art teacher. Ideally, I feel that the art teacher should be able to modify her lesson plans to include the kids, even if it's a separate activity. Art teacher feels that having "two classes" is too much work, which is why kids get taken out of art. (Not fair, right?) Well - to follow that episode, the admin doesn't want to put them anywhere that they're not wanted. Sad thing is, that means they don't have an elective class (We have two - PE + ????? and they go to each one every other day). The new proposal is that they will pay me for a 1/2 sixth teaching period (which would be 1/14th of my salary, ~$3700) to "support" them in art class (every other day, which is why it's a half a teaching period because if it was full I'd do it every day). I explained that this is not really the way to set up the electives teachers to be successful on their own, but that I'd be glad to do it with the idea that this is an initiative to get the electives teachers on their feet and really creatively thinking how to include the kids. The weird thing is, they just told me that the position would ALSO entail supporting the other THREE self-contained classrooms (much higher functioning kids) in THEIR electives classes too. Can you imagine? I am getting paid for a period every other day, in which I'm expected to attend with my students AND modify materials for the classroom, AND have to prepare materials and support the other 35 self-contained kids in their electives classes!? That's not what I wanted! It will be a LOT of work to prepare for another class, in a subject that is not my forte. They want me to support the kids in the class AND modify the work (Which means I'd have to do the modifications, prep, etc. OUTSIDE of that period, which would be in addition to my current responsibilities, which are already through the roof). If that makes sense. They would be paying me to do the 2nd period support every other day, but I'd also have to prepare for that 2nd period class (which would come from the random free time that I have... ) At any rate, I DO want to see my kids successful, so I AM willing to do this for them. It will be extra work, but my hope is that I can show the art teacher that this is how you can take a lesson plan and make it accessible to my kids. The problem is, I think the other self-contained teachers should have to give a little to support their kids! The electives teachers can stop thinking that it's "two classes in one classroom" and start thinking, "How can I involve the kids?" Even down to having one of the lower kids pass the papers out, etc. The main goal is social interaction and feeling included. As much as I respect the art teacher, I could care less if my kids are painting perspective drawings and doing the exact stuff the other sixth graders are doing. So here is my question: How do other schools do this?! I know it's not the norm to pay the Autism teacher to go into the classroom and show the teacher how to include the kids!? At my school in TX, it was what it was. You got a roster, taught your kids, asked for help if you needed it, no big deal. I think the main difference is that I taught in elem. school - where the gap is much smaller. You may have a 3rd grader on a 1st grade level, and a PE teacher is used to teaching 1st graders, so they can adapt. You may have a 5th grader on a 2nd grade level, same story. But in middle school, we have 6th graders on a PK-K level, which the middle school teachers just can't handle. I recognize that it is a challenging thing - but want to know what other schools do to make it work. I know they are entitled to take classes with their peers AND they really benefit from being OUTSIDE of our little self-contained classroom that they're in for the other 6 periods of the day. Do I roll with this whole Differentiation Support thing and go with the 1/2 teaching period (one period every other day) even though it will be well above and beyond my contract hours to support the other three classes???? Do I say I just want to do my kids (even though they might not approve that?) How are other kids included? How do other schools make it work? I have to have a break SOME time!