Monday, December 01, 2008

I See The Light, Do You?

A few posts ago, people criticized me for refusing to read IEPs. Some said that I cannot do a good job of helping my students without reading them.

Instead of reading those worthless pieces of paper, I sat with two of my resource room kids today while they took an exam. In less than two minutes I was able to recognize the biggest problem both were having--reading the problem and pulling out the key words. It took me about 30 seconds to point them in the right direction, hand them a highlighter to help identify the important words and then answer the question that was being asked.

Would the IEP have told me to do this? Maybe yes and maybe no. By working with the student, I saw the problem and came up with an immediate solution. Is this a better approach than burying myself in paperwork? My guess is YES!


mathmom said...

I'm glad you found a solution for those 2 students. But it's December, and maybe the IEP would have told you that in August? And maybe other students whom you haven't taken the time to observe that closely yet would have benefited from you reading something in their IEPs too.

Why should every teacher have to figure this out for herself every year, wasting the first 3 months of school in the meantime, IF someone has already figured this out and written it down in the IEP? It doesn't take that long to skim an IEP for diagnosis and suggested accommodations. There's no guarantee, of course, that every IEP is going to contain useful accommodations, and it's no substitute for getting to know the student and figuring something out for yourself, but it's still a better place to start than nowhere until you get a chance to "see the light" for yourself.

Sorry, I remain unconvinced that reading your students' IEPs is a waste of your time. I believe that it benefits every student in you class (even those without IEPs) for you to be aware of the issues and recommended accommodations for students in that class as early in the year as possible.

Pissed Off said...

Mathmom--if you or anyone can find me the time during the day and a good place to read them, I will be happy to oblige.

Pissed Off said...

The resource room teacher never used highlighters with the kids so I am willing to bet there is none of this information on the IEP since he is the one that must read them.

JUSTICE not "just us" said...

Where the hell is the Asst. Principal of Spec. Ed.?

When my school was functional I had a boss that I did not particularly like but at least she informed the Regular Ed teachers of the Spec. needs students in their classes. She was the best supervisor I ever worked for and that aint saying much!

Anonymous said...

Mathmom...just wanted to respond to a comment you had made to POD.

You stated that it would have been better if POD had read the IEPs back in August...

At my school...I don't get the IEPs until several weeks into the school year. (Typically after a few tests have been given) Could I have used the info in that IEP prior to the first test? Yep.

I think the all-around problem here is time. The Special Ed teachers (from my experience) are so swamped working with several kids on a daily basis (let alone finding time to write an IEP), that the IEPs get pushed off. Working with the child comes first. Hence, regular ed teachers don't always get the IEPs in a timely manner.

Teachers of students with IEPs are in the same boat. We are so swamped with teaching the curriculum, meeting state standards, trying to help ALL students be succssful in our classes (I could go on)..that reading the IEP gets pushed off. (I can also honestly say that 5 minutes after reading that IEP, I don't remember any of it...)

Personally, I make a 5 minute phone call to my Special Ed teacher and get some insight from him about my IEP students.

Throughout the year, I do not refer to the IEP, but rather the Special Ed teacher as a source of info on a particular student, should I need it. I get more out of those conversations than I do out of an IEP.

Ms. Scarlett

Anonymous said...

High school IEP's do not necessarily specify how to adapt the material. I have seen IEP's that state that problem solving skills of a particular child are not on grade level due to reading comprehension difficulties. Since you were able to pinpoint where those kids were having difficulty, you yourself did what any decent resource room teacher have done. Highlighters and index cards are indispensable.

mathmom said...

Ms. Scarlett, your approach of talking to the Special Ed teacher makes sense to me.

Time is, of course, always the problem.

Pissed Off said...

In my school, some (not all) of the special education teachers are useless. One, in particular, refuses to speak to me during her lunch (the only time we are ever free together). She will not spend 2 minutes discussing a student, even if it is a student she likes. Other teachers have similar issues.

I find it is best to work with kids individually but when yuo put 10 kids with IEPs in a class with 24 other kids, many just as needy,it gets hard to individualize.

Besides, in my school, I have never even been offered an IEP to look at.

Anonymous said...

I believe all teachers are to be consulted when dealing with special needs students, but I can tell you I have never received an IEP from the Setts teachers or administration. It's not even allowed on the student's record card, so we only find out when the Setts teacher tells us who he/she is pulling out.

30 years ago, I used to coordinate my lessons and assignments with the Resource Room teachers. I noticed much improvement. Then the rules were changed and IMHO, not for the better.


Floraine Kay said...

No one has ever given me a student's IEP to read -- every school I have worked at hasn't want the teachers to be prejudiced by them. While I think that's stupid -- you should be able to read one if you want to -- the reality is, you are going to have to work with what you see. I think, if you can't figure things out, you should be able to go to the IEP. But, if you can, then you don't need to, necessarily. I haven't been able to anywhere so I've grown accustomed to not, and generally my Special Ed students do about the same as my regular education ones. I've always assumed that was because most of my regular ed kids are unlabeled Special Ed kids.

Anonymous said...

Mathmom...maybe in your school, speaking with the Special Ed teacher had little to do with the IEP child.

In my school, the Special Ed teacher, in most instances, works closely with the student and all of his/ her regular ed teachers. In many cases, the IEP student takes tests with the Special Ed teacher, or gets extra help from him (outside of class), so the student is in frequent contact with the Special Ed teacher.

The Special Ed teacher is constantly monitoring the student's grades in all classes, and keeps parents informed of the student's progress.

So yes, in my school, the Special Ed teacher is a huge source of invaluable information, while the IEP...not so much. I should have explained that in my original post. I gues I shouldn't have assumed that this was the case in most schools.

Mathmom...I hope this makes a litler more sense to you now.

Ms. Scarlett

mathmom said...

Ms. Scarlett, in my last comment I agreed that talking to the Sped teacher makes sense.

Anonymous said...

When I was in High School I had an IEP because of my inattentive type ADHD. I was a smart student, I just could never focus on my work. The entire ordeal of obtaining and receiving copies of an IEP with my reports was embarrassing for me, dealing with the special ed room in high school for the first time in my life and being told I had this disorder really took a toll. Anyway, I thought that it would help me out, let the teachers know that I would need some extra assistance and time to complete projects and assignments. However as my career as a High School student went on I began to realize that all of the embarrassment, time, and paper were useless. None of my teachers extended anything or even took into consideration that I had any special needs, I felt very cheated and if I brought up the fact that I had an IEP all but one teacher made me feel like I was an inconveniance to them, if they acknowledged me at all. I realized when I received my end of term report ,and my teacher said "oh you have an IEP?", that no one had been paying attention and I essentially was left to scrape by on my own will. I entered High School having never failed a subject and maintaining an 85 average roughly. When I graduated my average was 55. I'd suggest you find a 'nice warm place' to read over your students IEPs as I know the actual helpful information is not a very hard or time consuming read.

Pissed Off said...

My students get plenty of extra stuff from me--I don't need to spend time reading worthless pieces of paper. For one thing, they all get extra time and extra locations if they want. For natoher, they have readers, if they are entitled to one. And lastly, I sit and help them through my lunch and prep periods.

The IEPs do not state any specific plans to help anyone. I'm sorry your experience was not good, but it has nothign to do with someone reading an IEP or not.