Monday, June 11, 2007

One More

As in...one more IEP.

A disclaimer: I love my kiddos. I love the day-to-day aspects of teaching them. I love taking a book that most people think is beyond their reach -- War of the Worlds, say -- and find a way to make it accessible to them.  I have mostly positive interactions with parents.  I truly think I do the best I can to further each and every child's development, whether they come to me matching colors, not matching at all, or reading at a 2nd grade level.

That said, while I like to think I'm a fairly good writer, and have been told I'm a good IEP-writer -- and while I have only had two IEPs go dramatically badly -- I freak out before each and every one.

I know J.  I know what she can do.  I've seen how she's grown this year.  I've seen what being included 70% of the day has done for her.  I can delineate how she's grown -- how, while she could read and decode nearly at grade level, she could only comprehend at a pre-primer level and can now comprehend at a late first grade level.  I believe -- truly -- that full inclusion is the best placement for her...because for her to be alert and available for knowledge, she needs to be around her peers.

She's shown that this year.  I've had her since summer school before fourth grade.  She's going into seventh now.  For two years, I taught her nothing.  I tried every trick I could think of -- visual cues to help her learn what question words meant, manipulatives to shore up her number sense so she could fix mistakes in her rotely-learned math.

And she barely treaded water.  Her comprehension did not improve.  Her social skills did, marginally, but her ability to apply what she had learned did not.

Within a week of being 70% included this year, she was answering questions appropriately (though not always correctly); that is, if I asked "Who was White Fang's first owner?" she might have said Wheedon Scott, but at least it was a person.

Ditto math.

Ditto her handwriting, for crying out loud.

For whatever reason, being with her peers turned a light bulb on that I never even knew existed.

Except that the program specialist doesn't think so.

Which puts me in a very awkward position.

Meanwhile, I have to write and propose goals that would work equally in a special day class setting and a general education setting.

9 comments:

Mz. Cat said...

I am sorry that there is trauma with J. Those who are not around her daily nor have been with her as long as you have CAN'T see what it has been like or seen the growth. However, she is moving to a bigger pond. I taught in that bigger pond and for kids like J, they could get lost. From my experiences, most general ed teachers are fearful and don't like dealing with kids like J. I know one of my other job kids got sent to the SDC classes, when she was FI for so many years. It is part of letting go and dealing with the BS that comes with teaching in Special Ed. As our teaching counterpart, L says, "It is what it is."

SpooWriter said...

Well...I've seen the bigger-bigger pond (as in high school) and E. didn't get lost in the pond.

Our district has enough experience with full inclusion (though I'll grant that SMS isn't quite up there as HMS or VVMS) that with careful selection of classes, the teachers wouldn't be traumatized.

After all, A. (as in, running to the gate daily A.) goes to an honors algebra class daily!

My concern here isn't even that I philosophically believe in inclusion -- I do -- or that I believe that even kids who need curriculum heavily modified -- as J. does -- are just as entitled to inclusion as the ones who don't.

This is about how J. learns, and how she learns best.

And what irks me is that my opinion didn't matter. I know J. (teacher) is bitter, and I know M. has some odd ideas about full inclusion, and I know SBS is scared of a lawsuit.

But the fact of the matter is that, educationally speaking, I did J. no good for two years. The only variable was her time in general ed.

It's about what makes educational sense for her, and it bugs me that my opinion wasn't considered.

Ultimately, I'll let go -- and I know, at least, that J's mom makes sure she participates in church (so she has friends there), ensures she goes to Kids 'n' Things (for friends there), and that her mom works hard to keep her as independent and age-apporpriate as possible.

Even if her mom does decide to homeschool ('cause of the evil Greek myths), I know she'd be better off than R. would have been.

She'll do well either way -- but an opportunity is being lost here.

Mz. Cat said...

Agree entirely. WE DON'T matter as teachers,no matter what principals, unions or others say. Our opinions don't count nor do our insights when it comes down to the truly important decisions. We are just supposed to be submissive pawns in this game they play. However, some of us have BIG mouths and speak our minds. Not all of use are that open, some are more reserved and play it much safer (and don't get talked to by the principal about how to play well with others).

I recently told a parent, from the other job, "Yes, parents know their child, BUT I know their child at school." I swear dad nearly fell off his chair.

Parents and others don't see what we see. Example my J's IEP where D kept perservating on having him repeat kinder to get the kindergarten curriculum he miss in my class, not only a HUGE slap in my face about a BIGGER insult to my ability to teach at all. Did D take into consideration that J has a LEARNING DISABILITY (btw, so does his mom as she reported to me) and that is why he is in my class... NOPE!
After my entire year, (and half of Ms C's)we placed him where he could get the best program (K-1 LH with 2 hours a day inclusion with the ability to increase inclusion time as needed)and hopefully get to general ed full time, if not we are on the right road, rather then starting FI and return to SDC class. (worse case) For J, this was the best match, it was my gut telling me.

Be thankful that your J's mom sees the importance of having J "in the mix" with society and age-approp. connections, so unlike C who was once in my class. C's mom had one rude awakening at the play about how different her child was, even though he can read (her reason for most any thing that deals with school). But will this mom wake up and see that being in general ed is important but he needs social outings out side of the school enviroment with those same style peers like what your J's mom does for her... I don't think so.

We have chosen a profession that is truly thankless in so many ways. We see what a child can do and push them to it, when no one else does (your E, my A). We can send then on to hopefully greener pastures (Thank goodness that M took over the 1-3), or not. We try to education parents the best we can with sometimes rewarding results (my S to FI K this coming fall) and others not so rewarding results. Dealing with outside services, that have NO CLUE what to do to improve or create speech, deal with complexed sensory issues, etc. We can hope that maybe some teacher sees what you saw/did with J and tries it again. We can only hope.

BTW, D is on my S*** list BIG TIME for something so stupid she can do her self...

Mz. Cat said...

We have chatted more here then the entire year. Also parton my grammar and spelling, that is why I teach kinders.... LOL!

SpooWriter said...

That's what I used the "Additional Information" box on the PLOPs page for...it says:

This year, J. was mainstreamed in a general education class for 70% of her day. Participating in general education classes has had a positive affect on both J’s academic skills (in particular, reading comprehension and handwriting) as well as her ability to focus and attend. It is suggested by her current teacher that J. continue to participate in general education experiences as much as possible, whether that be through electives, other classes, clubs, or extracurricular activities, throughout her educational experience.

If this were R, I'd be stressing more. At least it's J.

And speaking of complex sensory issues, M. freaked today (for a variety of reasons including the ever-present (poor) E., as well as needing to go #2, and Miss L thinking combing her fingers through M's hair would be calming) -- remind me to pack my weighted vest, squeeze vest, etc., to summer school.

SpooWriter said...

And about chatting here -- have I not said I'm somewhere on the spectrum? ;-)

Truly, truly, writing is easier than talking for me. :-)

By the way, when you said the thing about pushing kids no one else did...it's really sad I thought first sixth grade E and then realized (based on you saying your A) that you meant 4th grade E.

Mz. Cat said...

The PLOPs sounds like you covered your base as well as you could in this legal pond we wallow in.

SpooWriter said...

Yeah -- but if J's mom would ever sue, the district would hate me because of it.

That's what I meant in the original post about being in an awkward position. I want to detail her succeses in case Drama would ever occur...but I don't want to be the one to detail her success in case Drama ever occurs.

If that makes sense.

Daisy said...

Good luck. You obviously know this child well. (from a regular ed. teacher and mom of a special education kid)