Tales from the other side. . .

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101 Archives' started by Kathy813, Aug 18, 2006.

  1. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    One week of school is over and it has been an interesting week. I thought y’all might like to hear about a special education issue from the other side.

    My school is moving more and more toward team teaching and intermixing Special Education and regular ed students. I am teaching a team taught Algebra 1 class.

    I have 14 special education students and 16 regular education students in the class. One of the special education students is an Asperger’s student. He has a full time parapro that also comes to class each day.

    So we have 30 students, a regular ed teacher, a Special Education teacher, a parapro, and a student teacher all in one classroom. It’s a bit crowded.

    I haven’t seen any IEP’s but I am assuming the Special Education teacher is taking care of that. We have divided up the duties so I am planning and teaching the lessons while the Special Education teacher walks around the room keeping the students on task and answering questions. We don’t differentiate between the Special Education students and the regular ed students so she helps everybody. The parapro sits in the back of the room and takes notes, which she runs off before the class is over so the students who have note-taking issues can have a copy. She also discretely checks on the Asperger’s student several times during the class.

    The Asperger’s student is very high functioning ~ even plays on the school football team. The only thing I have noticed out of the ordinary was during the first quiz. My team teacher pointed out that his paper was still blank when most of the other students were finishing. I let the parapro know and she said he was probably reading the first question over and over. So she took the quiz back to the Asperger’s room where the student completed it later in the day and brought it back to me the next morning. He made a 100 on the quiz and beamed when I told him what a good job he did.

    I have received no training on Asperger’s and got a one-paragraph description of what Aspergers is and what to expect in an Asperger’s student. Luckily, thanks to the CD board, I didn’t have much of a learning curve. In fact, the Asperger’s teacher I later talked to was surprised at how much I knew about Aspergers. I told him that I happened to know some people who had children with an Asperger’s diagnosis so I was fortunate that I had already learned quite a bit about it.

    It amazes me that while a self-contained Special Education class in Georgia is limited to 10 students (by law), when it comes to a team taught class, the rules fly out the window. How am I supposed to meet the needs of 14 Special Education students at the same time I have to deal with 16 other kids? Thirty is a lot of students to begin with for a ninth grade algebra class, never mind half of the students having special needs.

    So I will do my best and I am fortunate to be working with a wonderful Special Education teacher and parapro. The kids are great and I think it will be a rewarding year but have to admit to a little trepidation.

  2. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us--I hope you'll update us throughout the year.

    When I taught HS the Special Education staff quickly realized that their students fared well in my classes so they loaded my schedule up with them. A number of times I asked them to schedule them all together and possibly add a sped teacher but they didn't start doing that until after I left.

    My regular ed teacher friends who have taught in situations similar to what you're starting now have had very favorable experiences and I hope yours is the same.

    I'm impressed your school has an Asperger's room! I expect our district will be needing one in the near future given the increase they are seeing.

    Good luck with your school year.
  3. Martie

    Martie Moderator


    Thank you for posting. I think your experience is typical but better than average. In IL anyway, how your ratio would be counted is 15:1 because you have two certified teachers in the room. I know the math works out but sometimes the numbers don't--30 kids can be harder to manage by a lot even with two teachers than 15 with one teacher (and the parapro being present in both cases.) In IL 15:1 is the ratio for "included" students. Excluded classrooms drop to a 5:1 ratio but those kids are one step away from hospitalization.

    I have a question: is your team teacher "highly qualified" in math? In IL we are moving in that direction so he or she should be qualified to teach the class and have you help students individually. I am not suggesting that this is a good use of personnel BUT most Special Education teachers do not want to "walk around" while someone else teaches the whole day. Further, even if your team teacher were "highly qualified" i.e., certifiable as a math teacher in regular ed., that doesn't mean you are a Special Education teacher.

    I believe you will do a great job--but not because you have been appropriately trained by your school district but because you are conscientious and have been hanging out here for a long time.

    by the way, all teachers should read their students' IEPs. There is virtually no chance that there will be meaningful planning for special needs if the IEPs are in a file cabinet some place. It should not be (in my opinion) your job to update them and keep the track of the data that will be needed to demonstrate "research based techniques" but you should have access to them.

    Let us know how the year progresses.

  4. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    BARGE - Martie, my son's reg ed teacher told me she wasn't allowed to see my son's IEP due to privacy issue, that only the Special Education teacher was allowed to see it. I quickly informed her that she was required by law to read the IEP and sat her down and bascially dictated all the important parts to her. Geesh!

    Kathy-best of luck with your room this year!
  5. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member


    The Special Education teacher took two college math classes last summer in order to become "highly qualified." Georgia assessed each Special Education teacher's background (including years taught) and told them how many classes he or she would need in a particular field to become "highly qualified."

    She still feels more comfortable with me teaching the actual lessons while she helps the students. I also walk around the room answering questions in-between examples while they are doing practice problems.

    The Special Education teachers told the content teachers that their role in the classroom is to "support" the Special Education students and the content teachers.

    As far as the IEP's, when we do not have a team teacher, they usually give us a copy of the IEP's to keep in our classroom (usually after approximately two weeks when the schedule changes stop). I never did get a copy in the team taught class last year. Maybe they figure that the Special Education teacher is making sure the accommodations are being met. Thanks for your suggestions, though. I will ask my Special Education teacher for a copy for my files, too.

  6. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    30 kids? I'd probably have a panic attack. lol

    As a parent, I think 30 kids in a class room is too many on it's own. 50% with-IEPs sounds like the school district is pushing the envelop even with the additional staff.

    On the upside I guess is apparently the school district had a plan to help with the high student/teacher ratios. I hope it works out as well in practice as it probably looked on paper.

    I think it is unfair of districts not to provide teachers the information, training and other tools they need to work with the kids, yet they are still held responsible for implementing IEPs and 504s.

    Because districts don't always provide the workshops and teacher training in disabilities that they are suppose to, I used to provide information pertinent to difficult child's disorder to his teachers each year. Some liked it and some didn't.

    Now, as part of the annual IEP meeting, I request a meeting for all difficult child's teachers (including the coach), principal or asst. principal, counselor, etc. I can tell by the comments made and questions asked that the majority that attend appreciate it. Also, some of what they learn can be applied to other students.

    Thus far, this has been a successul approach for difficult child and me and the educators. It takes a whole lot less time and energy on everybody's part to keep difficult child on track than to get him back on track after he's in a downward spiral.

    Your students are very lucky to have you.

    So is your district. Not only for self-educating but, in turn, it reduces the school district's risks for complaints. Some potential resources:

    Every individual involved in providing services to the student should know and understand his or her responsibilities for carrying out the IEP. This will help ensure that the student receives the services that have been planned, including the specific modifications and accommodations the IEP team has identified as necessary.

    Accessibility of Child’s IEP to Teachers
    and Others (§ 300.323(d))
    Comment: Many commenters
    recommended retaining current
    § 300.342(b)(3)(i) and (b)(3)(ii), which
    require teachers and providers to be
    informed of their specific
    responsibilities for implementing an
    IEP, and the specific accommodations,
    modifications, and supports that must
    be provided to the child in accordance
    with the child’s IEP. Several
    commenters stated that a child’s IEP
    should be readily accessible and all
    those involved in a child’s education
    should be required to read and
    understand it.
    Discussion: Section 300.323(d)
    requires that the child’s IEP be
    accessible to each regular education
    teacher, special education teacher,
    related services provider, and any other
    service provider who is responsible for
    its implementation. The purpose of this
    requirement is to ensure that teachers
    and providers understand their specific
    responsibilities for implementing an
    IEP, including any accommodations or
    supports that may be needed. We agree
    with the commenters’ recommendation
    and believe retaining current
    § 300.342(b)(3)(i) and (b)(3)(ii) is
    necessary to ensure proper
    implementation of the child’s IEP and
    the provision of FAPE to the child.
    However, the mechanism that the public
    agency uses to inform each teacher or
    provider of his or her responsibilities is
    best left to the discretion of the public

    The Law Says that All Regular Education Teachers, Special Education Teachers, Aides, and Other Service Providers Must Have the Skills and Knowledge Necessary to Meet the Needs of Your Child.

    The federal law, 20 U.S.C., Section 1413(a)(3), provides that the local education agency (your school) shall ensure that all personnel necessary to carry out (the IDEA) are appropriately and adequately prepared, consistent with the requirements of Section 20 USC Section 1453(c)(3)(D) .
    Section 1453(c)(3)(D) concerns grants to states, and how the funds will be used. It specifically requires a state to address the identified needs for in-service and pre-service preparation to ensure that all personnel who work with children with disabilities (including both professional and paraprofessional personnel who provide special education, general education, related services, or early intervention services), have the skills and knowledge necessary to meet the needs of children with disabilities . . ."

    ….Finally, a section of the IDEA that a parent can cite to obtain training for a teacher is 20 U.S.C. Section 1414 (d)(1)(A)(iii) and 34 C.F.R. Section 300.347(a)(3) which provide that an IEP must include "a statement of the program modifications or supports that will be provided for the child . . . " This support should be to assist the teacher in meeting the unique needs of the child.
    According to federal law, a parent can make a request in an IEP or in a letter to the school, for information as to what the school will provide to the teacher in the way of supports that address the specific and unique needs of the child. The parent may also wish to request training to be provided to the teacher. The training can be in the methodologies that serve the unique needs of the child.

    Education Law http://www.wadleighlaw.com/news-publications/

    Training for school personnel. Training or inservice opportunities for staff may be included in your child's BIP. The IEP team should determine whether staff working with your child have the necessary information and training to effectively implement your child's BIP. Your special education regional resource center (SERRC) can provide information about training opportunities. Refer to the Special Education Resources for contact information.

    Hope you post later in the year with an update.
  7. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Good news ~ my administration agreed that the class was too big so they created a new section and removed 4 of the Special Education students and 2 of the regular ed students. It is amazing what a difference that made. We are not wall to wall kids anymore.

    The "division of labor" is working out very well. It is great to have the Asperger parapro in there taking notes while the Special Education teacher and I are teaching the skills.

    The other Asperger student I teach is in an honor's Algebra 2 class and does not have an aide. But one of the Asperger's teachers has already come by today to ask how things are going and let me know she is there to turn to if I have any questions or difficulty. She said she would be coming by on a regular basis to see how things were going.

    Both of the Asperger's students must be on the mild side of the spectrum. I don't think I would have even realized there was any issues with the students other than they were a little quirky if I hadn't been told about the Asperger's. Both are very nice boys and well-behaved.

    I think it is going to be a great year. :D

  8. Martie

    Martie Moderator

    I think 24 with three adults is a much more reasonable plan.

    Good wishes to you all--Do you get to see the IEPs?