What would you do?

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by waterfall, Jul 22, 2011.

  1. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Jul 22, 2011

    My P has this big thing about students being only with their classroom teacher the first 2 weeks of school. We have a huge focus on classroom community and teambuilding and she wants to build that and have them get used to routine, etc. We also tend to have a lot of behavior problems at the beginning and she thinks less change will help. They don't go to specials during this time either.

    Last year, I didn't know the kids at all yet and a lot of them had push in hours on their ieps (from previous teacher) so I was able to go around to their regular classrooms and observe, see what they were like, and meet some of the push-in hours. However, this year I already know them, I really don't need to observe in their regular classes, there isn't much to help with in the regular room, and almost none of them have push-in hours left on their ieps.

    I'm almost positive that if I miss the entire first 2 weeks I won't be able to meet service hours for all of the students that month. The first week is only 3 days and the 2nd week is 4 days, but I still think I won't have time to make all that up. Last year I did end up seeing kids that very last friday of the second week just to do get-to-know-you and things like that. I have a really hard time getting our building leadership to understand the legality of meeting the service hours- to make a long story short I'll just say that I've never really been able to convince them that nothing should really get in the way of meeting the hours. So simply stating that isn't going to get me anywhere. The classroom teachers pitched a fit about this policy last year (because they got no planning when there was no specials) and the P was adadment about it. Personally, I don't really understand it- things like going to specials, seeing me, the gifted teacher, or the title 1 teacher are part of their routine- why establish a classroom routine (without all those things) that won't be permanent anyway? It also caused some (thankfully pretty minor all things considered) bitterness among the staff that the specials teachers and I got two weeks of "extra planning" while the classroom teachers were teaching without a break. I totally understand where they're coming from of course- but it's not like I could help it- I certainly didnt ask for or want that extra time.

    I know my P is just going to say that I should spend those 2 weeks in the regular classrooms, but I HATE that. Can you imagine just spending two weeks 7 hours a day standing around in someone else's classroom watching them teach??

    So what would you do?
     
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  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Jul 22, 2011

    What are teachers doing during those first few days? We spend much time in the beginning setting rules and such, then working on assessments. I think this kind of takes up most of our two weeks (but I still throw in learning every chance I get).

    Can you complete the assessments with your students or work with the new K/1st grade classes to get to know those kids?
     
  4. bethechange

    bethechange Comrade

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    Jul 22, 2011

    Could you convince her that you are doing team building activities in your room too? Haha.

    Last year our SLP and OT hit every class in the first two weeks of school and did a presentation on autism, what is ASD, sensitivity activities, how the kids could be good friends to kids with ASD, etc. It rocked!!! Maybe do something like that - diversity training, disability awareness, etc with every class? I mean, if your p says absolutely no pulling of kids, at least you'd have something positive and productive to do.
     
  5. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Jul 22, 2011

    And the regular education teachers would be thankful for a bathroom break at least!
     
  6. Leatherette

    Leatherette Comrade

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    Jul 22, 2011

    I do not have a regular schedule with my students the first two weeks either, but they are the busiest weeks of the year. We don't find out which teachers the students have until right before school starts, the PE/music schedules and lunch schedules are being tweaked, and that affects general ed classroom schedules.....and I have to coordinate my schedule with the schedules of eight to ten other teachers. I spend a lot of time the first two weeks just making a schedule.

    I am also in classrooms, not watching others teach, but making sure that all of my kids and the kids with 504 plans have the assistive devices they need and that everything is working. I make sure that my students with behavioral needs are off to a good start, and consult with teachers during their planning times about students with very specific needs with regards to how they are approached. I make myself very present in the classrooms of my new kindergarteners and any other students that are new to me, so they know that they are part of the general ed classroom, but I am there as a support.

    I find that if I try to start with total service hours and not with this type of preparation, the school year does not start well, I have to keep changing my schedule, and the students miss out on important classroom community activities. When I do this type of preparation, the teachers feel confident that they can meet our students' needs, the kids feel that they are full members of their classroom community, and we can start with a schedule that can be consistent.

    That said, there is some pulling of students who may need some beginning of the year assessment and/or 1-1 time. Kids on sensory diets and those in need of 1-1 emotional support will get their pull-outs immediately, as the year will not start out well for them otherwise.

    I will also need to plan with my instructional assistant, who I probably won't know until the day school starts.

    I used to get very frustrated waiting, but as time went on, I found these productive ways to use the time, and I really value it now.
     
  7. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Jul 22, 2011

    Mopar- They do spend a lot of time establishing routines, and establishing their "crew" that first 3 day week. That's why even if I went into the regular ed classrooms, there really wouldn't be anything for me to do since there wouldn't be much academic work to help with. That second week, it would be on to class as normal. If I could even start seeing my kids the 2nd week, that would at least be something. I have several "routine" like things that I need to get done with my kids as well, and if I start doing those the 3rd week then we've waited until the 4th week of school for me to actually teach them anything! At the beginning of the year, I have my students create and sign a community expectations poster, go over my expectations and behavior system, have them organize their folders/binders and explain how those will work, do a get to know you game (since I know them this year, it will be more a long the lines of how was your summer and things like that), do some interest surveys and find out what things they'd be interested in doing or learning about (such as are they interested in doing skits or art type things in lessons, do they like working in groups or by themselves, etc. I also need at least one day for progress monitoring just to get baseline data points for everyone and to teach them what their goals are and have them start keeping track. I don't have any kinder or 1st grade students, so I actually won't be spending time in those rooms at all this coming year unless something comes up through RtI.

    bethechange- I'd be happy to do team building activities, haha! Also as I was saying to Mopar I do have a lot of "crew building" things that I need to get through as well just like the regular teachers. Even though I've had these kids before, I am not planning on doing everything the same so I do need to teach them about how are routine will work and such. We don't have any kids with severe needs in our building- so no asd or anything like that. None of my kids have physical disabilities or anything that would be noticeable, so other than struggling a bit with academics they fit in fine with their classmates. I've found there isn't really a "special ed" stigma as the gen ed kids don't even really realize it- the majority of gen ed kids would constantly ask me if they could be in my class/why they never got to come with me! I really like this about my school- I think doing some kind of presentation would call extra attention to my kids/job that I don't want to have there. Currently, I tell kids I teach reading, writing, and math and they accept that explanation. There was even a teacher's kid in 2nd grade who would occasionally ask me after school what grade she had to be in before she was allowed to be in my class.

    leatherette- I spent a lot of my time last year doing my schedule too, but this time I know all the kids and who I want to group together, and I know the classroom schedules. I wouldn't do my regular permanent schedule that 2nd week, but I would like to take the kids to do the routine building stuff and things like that. My kids don't get any modifications in the regular ed room (district policy) and I don't have anyone with needs that are severe enough to need AT or anything like that. The teachers don't have planning, so no time to check with them there- but they know my door is always open after school. My kids don't have behavior problems- just minor academic difficulties so I'm not too worried about anyone adjusting to having my students in their class. We have such a small schoool/strong community that most of the teachers already know my students who are coming up to be in their class anyway. I don't have a para or anything like that, so no one to plan with.


    Don't get me wrong, if I were to just use this time for planning and setting things up, I'd have plenty to do with getting organized for the year. However, it's not really fair that the classroom teachers must do all this planning before school starts and I get two extra weeks to do it. I completely understand their frustration. I also don't want to just go awkwardly stand around in classrooms so I can look like I'm doing something and not just getting "free planning time." I'm thinking of at least asking my P if I can take kids on thurs-fri of the 2nd week- thursday to establish my routines and get organized with the kids, and friday to progress monitor. Then at least it's only 5 days that I'm not seeing kids. I also just thought of this- maybe I can just send an e mail out to the staff and tell them that I would be happy to come in to their room and help out any time they want those first 2 weeks and they can just let me know when they want me. That way, if someone actually does need something, I'm there to provide it, but I'm not just standing around watching and making people nervous for no good reason (if I were to just take up the time with observing in classrooms). Hopefully, that might also take some of the "you get 2 weeks of planning" bitterness away since I can just say I did offer to help out in classrooms. I suspect no one will take me up on it, but it would be nice to put it out there.

    I would like to use some of this time to meet with some of our other specialists and talk about what we want RtI to look like this year, but our first district RtI meeting isn't until October and I know they're completing changing their policies and required documentation, so I don't want to set something up and change it 6 weeks later!
     
  8. karebear76

    karebear76 Habitué

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    Jul 22, 2011

    I can't say what I would do, because I don't have that issue. I have the problem of needing to do 1:1 baseline assessment (which can go up to 3 hours or more per student) and teachers expecting me to start with a definite schedule on day 2 of school.

    I never pull on day 1 as that is when the community/procedure stuff is happening in the homerooms. I want my students to be a part of it so I work on making sure my assessments are ready to go on day 1.

    Day 2 I start baseline assessments. I use the Wilson Reading
    system, so I give the WADE, parts of the Brigance, DIBELS, and a few other classroom assessments. I use the data to write new IEPs, and so I can have accurate data on progress monitoring.

    Not sure what I'm going to do this year, as I've been directed by the P that I MUST do inclusion in Sci & SS, so that eliminates my entire afternoon. I have 19 students, 4 of which are greatly below level and alternate assessments - one of them has a 1:1 - she's supposed to help him, and the other 3, as well as 4-5 more kids?? Sorry venting there.

    Is there any way to do some of your progress monitoring in the back of the classroom? Will the classroom teachers do anything similar? Good luck figuring it out.
     
  9. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    I wish I could start on the 2nd day! I hate all the waiting around, and I feel so silly when all of my teacher friends are talking about how swamped they are/how crazy things are those first couple weeks and I'm sitting there with nothing but free time.

    A whole afternoon for SS/science inclusion? I would not like that at all! The things admin comes up with...what purpose is that going to serve for the kids?

    The first two days before school actually starts are "testing days" and the kids come in to do reading, writing, and math assessments during that time so that the teachers have the baselines when school starts. I'm expected to run one of those centers, so I can't take that time to do my own IEP goal assessments for my students. I know last year when I told our SLP about the two weeks of no pulling thing, she just simply said "well that's illegal I'm not doing that." (Because she would not be able to meet service hours otherwise- her caseload is crazy!) However, she only works at our school 2 days a week, and because of the the way those first two weeks are (first week is wed-fri. and 2nd week is tues-fri) she was only there 2 days of that time. That first week the district slammed us with a bunch of paperwork we had already done, but they wanted us to do it differntly. So she and I did spend an entire day doing that. The second week, she pulled her kids as normal, but again she was only there one day and since she isn't around for all the building meetings and things, the P hadn't told her directly that she couldn't do it.
     
  10. MissAnt

    MissAnt Comrade

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    That doesn't seem legal. Nor does it seem legal not to provide accommodations in the classroom.

    I have a lot of freedom in when I pull my students. I can start on day one if I wish but most likely I'll start pulling them for baselines on the 2nd or 3rd day. What is your SPED director's reaction to this policy?
     
  11. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    We can provide accommodations such as extra time, but I'm not allowed to modify tests or anything that's taken for a grade. In reading, if the student is not reading on grade level (IEP or not) they automatically receive a failing grade for every reading skill, even if they can do the skill on a below grade-level text. This policy comes directly from our sped director- in fact my P has tried to fight it numerous times and gotten nowhere. The sped director says that it's unfair to parents because they think their student is doing really well or doesn't need special ed because they'll see they're getting good grades if we modify things. She also says parents will not understand when kids fail our state test when they have supposedly been getting good (modified) grades the whole year.

    So that tells you what our director is like- she doesn't know up from down. E-mailing her or talking to her is the most maddening thing I've ever experienced. My 3rd graders have better reading comprehension- when you e mail her a question she writes back with somethiing that has absolutely nothing to do with what you just asked. Here's an example for you. At the very beginning of last year, I was concerned that my school had placed my IEP kids in tons of other interventions besides what I was providing (title 1, read naturally, phonics groups, etc.) Between seeing me and the SLP (most also were speech-language) as well as being in all these other intervention groups, the kids were literally in their gen ed rooms maybe 1 hour per day. Seeing as their IEP's say 80% of the time in gen ed, we were obviously concerned. I e-mailed the sped director hoping to just get her to back me up on it, since I was a brand new teacher in the first month of school. She repeatedly wrote back "your building needs to follow the RtI process for referring new students to sped" no matter how many times I clarified. I quickly learned to avoid her at all costs and never asked her for anything again if I could get around it in any way. Luckily, I work at the smallest school in the district and she never receives complaints about me, so I had little to no interaction with her the entire year. Btw, I easily worked out the overloaded pull out situation in my building once I spoke up and explained what was going on.
     
  12. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Jul 22, 2011

    Another thing that you might want to consider is asking some of the middle school teachers to observe in their classrooms during this beginning of the year time just to get a feeling for the middle school. As I know that this is something that you have mentioned quite a bit in previous threads.
     
  13. MissAnt

    MissAnt Comrade

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    Jul 23, 2011


    Wow, that sounds extremely frustrating. I don't know if I'd do well with someone who doesn't respond to my actual question. I had a million questions this year as it was my first and the director was always very helpful.

    In regards to the marking on grade level, I have the same struggle but with the regular education teachers. There is a disagreement about marking students on grade level. My SPED director says they should be marked as making progress if they are doing so but often times the reg. ed teachers mark them as not on grade level. I'm frustrated because there is no general consensus there and our building administrator has not dealt with this yet, hopefully our new sped director brings this issue to their attention.
     
  14. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Our SLP and school psych helped me out a ton with the little things that I didn't know- so I learned to direct all my questions to them! We're getting a new psych next year (my fingers are crossed it's someone good) but luckily the same SLP has been assigned to our school again. They are hired by the district and not individual schools, so they can move them at will. I don't know what I would do without her!

    I really disagree with marking the kids as failing just because they're not reading at grade level. They may be too young to understand it now, but in the future if they know they're just going to fail, why bother trying? What happens when they get to middle school or so and realize they've failed everything their entire life? I had a really low 2nd grader (she is MR) who was able to do some of the report card skills such as synonyms/antonyms and retelling with a 1st grade level passage. She still received a failing grade- giving her no credit for the work she was able to do. Imo, all they need to do is put a little * at the bottom that says *on first grade level text or something like that. I also don't understand how it's not illegal in some way. If the student has "reduce reading level of the text" as an accommodation on their IEP, and the teacher does it because she is following the IEP, and then the student has to fail because she is not reading at grade level...isn't that essentially failing someone because they're on an IEP? I find that whole situation very frustrating. It was really weird to me when I started this job to, because in my home state a big part of a special ed teacher's job is to modify work that the kids will be doing in the regular ed rooms. Things are SO different out here!
     
  15. Joy

    Joy Cohort

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    Jul 24, 2011

    That seems very unfair to the specials teachers. They need time to establish a routine and expectations for their classrooms before getting in to teaching their content. I can't imagine having to wait around and would find it insulting that the principal felt that it was more important for the students to be with their "classroom" teacher instead of beginning their learning in my content.
     
  16. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Jul 24, 2011

    That's exactly how I feel...as if my room is not as important. I don't know how the specials teachers feel about the policy, but I would imagine they don't like it either. Both our PE and our music/art teacher were on maternity leave at the beginning of last year so it would have been subs at that time.
     

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