Saturday, March 31, 2007

And on that Farm He Had a Cow...

So, Spring Break is upon us! I have been lounging in bed, reading blogs, thinking that I really need to get up and do a yoga practice... And, yet, here I am posting instead. I check quite a few teacher blogs, and everyone seems to be talking about this "time of the year". The end of the year is very stressful for all teachers, regardless of level or subject. A frantic feeling comes along... "Oh no! The end of the year is quickly upon us and I still have so much to do. We have come so far, but still have so far to go!" For special education teachers, we have that feeling, along with the stress of the wondrous duties involving the creation of the plethora of paperwork that must follow each and every student, insuring the provisions under IDEIA and NCLB are met. We must determine whether or not students qualify for ESY. We must create new IEPs, update IBPs, taking into account FERPA, LRE and FAPE. Now, you can't do any of this without having a WPN. I am the LSC at my school, so I coordinate the efforts of everyone in my department. In my district, we do all of this using a program called SEAS. ...It makes me want to sing: E-I-E-I-O!

Yesterday, I met with the parent of a student who transferred to our school from another school. This parent was IRATE when she received her child's report card for third nine weeks. The report card listed my name as her teacher for Special Ed. Reading, Special Ed. Language and Special Ed. Math. The words, "Special Ed." sent her into a frenzy. Perhaps the fact that she had straight 'C's in all of those subjects created a feeling of ill will, as well. She claimed that she had not been informed that her child had been placed in special education at her previous location. She wanted her removed immediately. I presented her with copies of all information, including documentation of where she signed for permission for this placement. I further explained her rights under all of the current laws mandating special education in the best manner I could. I gave her the thick packet called "Procedural Safeguards" that is written in archaic legal language. But, honestly, I felt inept at times. I explained the pros and cons to the best of my ability, but I understand more fully than ever before that the process is so complicated... The ramifications of labeling or not labeling are so convoluted that I can't even keep up. So, how are we to expect parents, with a limited understanding of the process, to keep up? I try, to the best of my ability, to put it into plain language for them. However, I can see how a parent would sign a form without fully understanding exactly what is being signed.

The parent made the decision to remove the child from special education. Hey! No skin off my nose! (We are currently doing a lesson on figurative language.) The child is actually a "pot-stirrer" and my class has been in an uproar ever since she arrived. At the same time, I think I was beginning to see some real change in her behavior. She was beginning to be accountable for her actions. She was also beginning to take responsibility for her own learning. I think I could have made some real progress. Interestingly, the decision was made for her to remain in a class currently slotted for inclusion. This means that extra personnel are present to help students with special needs. My inclusion personnel also help the other children, as well. So, essentially, she will still be in an environment to receive more help than she might otherwise be afforded.

I fully support that parent's right to remove her child from special education services. She is still eligible to receive the services for the next three years, if the parent should change her mind. However, I'm left wondering when it all got so complicated... Special education law fascinates me... Maybe I will blog about that some day: A History of Special Ed. according to Christy... In the meantime, I'm wondering if I can't find another title to hang around my neck. "Special Education Teacher" seems to send some people screaming into the wilderness. Hmm... Let me think about my week: "Letter Writer for SSI Applications"(Parent awaiting my arrival at 7:10 a.m. to help fill out paperwork for a Social Security disability application)... "Parade Master" at car duty... "Math Genius" (Can we find the average of five grade? Yes, we can!)... "Computer Technician" (Gradebook and SEAS)... "Baby Sitter"(Watched 5 kindergarten students and implemented impromptu sight word recognition lesson while the other classroom teacher handled child falling out in grand mal seizure.) "Shopkeeper and Bookkeeper" (Via the fabulous checkbook classroom token economy system I implement.)... "Counselor and Warden" (Aided in the removal of a general education student who made a physical threat against a teacher.) "Medical Aide and Consultant" (Eat lunch with a student afflicted with CP, whose vocal cords have recently become paralyzed... Lunch is my only planning break during the day.) "Reading Specialist" (Phonics decoding with dyslexic students)... And, of course, "Legal Consultant" (Explaining SpEd Law to parents and signing paperwork). If you will notice, most of what I do seems to have little to do with teaching, at times.

Still, given all the headache, I can't think of anything I would rather do with my life at this juncture. Dave, my husband who is not a blogger, but is a wonderful high school mathematics teacher, interviewed this week for an assistant principal job at the high school. If he gets it, great! The hike in pay would be terrific for us. If he doesn't get it, that's O.K. too. He loves teaching and coaching. The thing that has caused pause for me, is simply that the district would be losing a great teacher. He is able to convey a knowledge of math in a way that I wish I had been exposed to in my younger years. He is such a dork about it, too. He genuinely loves pi and can wax poetic about the romanticism of this wonderful number... We are just trusting the process on this one. If it is meant to be, it will be.

In the meantime, I'll be keeping up with all the acronyms in my life! If you see me bouncing down the hall, know that it is just the tune of "Old Mac Donald Had a Farm" jingling in my brain! E-I-E-I-O!