Sunday, November 16, 2008

All Kids Need Help--Not Just The Ones With IEPs

I didn't think the IEP post would cause so much outrage. Thank you teachers for all your support.

I just checked. It is only November and I have already written 25 individual letters of recommendation for my students. I'm only counting the letters, each letter has at least 3 or 4 applications attached so the amount of work involved is incredible. There have also been countless forms filled out for the college office. That number will increase once scholarship applications begin.

Before I write a letter of recommendation, I read over the student's resume and personal statement. I also question them as to their goals and interests and try to find the one or two things that will make the subject of the recommendation stand out from all the others.

As I was writing this post an e-mail came from Macaulay Honors Program. They are collecting all their recommendations online this year. So that is another thing I must do. Since I have no computer access at work, those are done at home.

As for brighter kids not needing attention, think again. Would you be happy if your honor child came home from school saying the teacher had no time to help him with a problem? Or, how about, forget that scholarship, Johnny needs me more and I don't have time to fill out your recommendation. Bright kids are just as time consuming, albeit in a different form.

So, all you parents out there with kids with special needs--I feel for you but I feel for these other kids too. They are just as entitled to help and special treatment as everyone else. Too bad there is no federal law protecting them. Don't judge me without having a clue as to what I do! And, as for telling me what I would do if your child was in my class, SORRY, THAT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!


17 (really 15) more years said...

It's a lose-lose situation as far as I'm concerned. In my school, we spend so much time catering to the needs of kids with IEPs, that the higher functioning kids are frequently and consistently overlooked. What about the gifted and talented child? Education law escapes me at the moment, but I seem to remember that they qualify as "special needs" as well. If I were the parent of a truly gifted child, I'd want to be damned sure that he or she was being challenged by the teacher, not simply left to languish because he "gets" it while other kids don't.

The point is- in classes as large as we teach in NYC, somebody is going to be left behind- and it's simply not our fault, because G-d only knows, we're all trying.

Anonymous said...

it's tough... you have 6 classes with 34 students - all which are entitled to the best education that can be provided for them. You are only one person doing the best job you possibly can.

I think just as long as you make the effort and accommodations for these students you are doing what they are entitled to. It is up to the system to support you in your efforts. I think the real thing is for those teachers who show no empathy or even bother to check and follow up on which kids have IEPs in their classes. You clearly don't fall in that category.

However, those students are entitled to the services prescribed and should not be denied. But many of those students who have been mainstreamed don't want "special" treatment, but those caring and nurturing educators who provide the Human Touch should know who has an IEP because it may help explain why a student seems to certain types of math problems well but always gets word problems wrong.

I really do see how this how data can provide insight.

So.... what's your take on the who DATA thing anyway?

Anonymous said...

Hi- miss the other blog- are you letting former readers of your blog get to read the new one?

Anonymous said...

This is perfect, and something I feel I've been saying a lot. We don't have the systems in place to truly address and assess in this school system (or many other ones for that matter).

Pissedoffteacher said...

I forgot to mention all my kids that should have been diagnosed years ago, but fell through the cracks. They have plenty of special needs also.

Rho--I am only letting people who I am familiar with or can verify their identity into the new blog. I don't want anyone to read anything that might be incriminating or negative about anyone on staff anymore. Sorry. Tomorrow is a departmental meeting. I'm sure their will be some juicy stuff to write about.

Pissedoffteacher said...

I don't believe in all that data stuff, sorry. I believe in what I see with my own eyes.

I've seen kids with diagnosed math phobias who have succeeded in my class. And, I've seen kids who show no diagnosis fail miserably.

Mark Twain said, There are lies, damn lies and then their are statistics. Data can be used for anything you want it to be used for!

Chaz said...

I do feel for the special needs students. However, their attached paperwork is mind-boggling! As for college letters of recommendation, I only give them out for students who deserve them, about ten per school year. I don't believe in giving a college letter of recommendation to "C" students or ones who don't work at it.

Pissedoffteacher said...

Since I teach the AP calculus class and have over 60 kids in both classes, I have lots of deserving kids. And, there are the kids I had several years ago that did well, are in the other sections of calculus or decided not to go ahead in math. One of the problems with a good school is many good kids. (A problem I gladly accept.)

Rachel Grynberg said...

First of all, as a former Gifted and Talented kid, I can tell you that Gifted and Talented programs fall under Special Education. So, you are very right that smart kids need lots of attention. Ask any of the teachers my classmates at Stuyvesant and I TORMENTED over everything from why we got 96's instead of 97's to trying to THOROUGHLY understand what was being taught. Sometimes, being intelligent doesn't mean that you don't have quirks in the way you learn things or that you learn them quickly. And a lot of us can't rest until we fully understand what we are doing, which often means knowing history and mechanics far beyond the reach of the course. Brooklyn Comprehensive also used to be situated in Midwood High School and I would see these teachers worn to the bone working on lessons to enlighten and meet the needs of their gifted kids. It's hard work and work I don't think I would be good at. My mind is happier solving problems which don't require as much labor, frankly. I work hard but I am not always challenged by every student in the way teachers at Midwood and Stuyvesant were. (I didn't mean to put them in the same sentence for those Stuy grads who are as snobbish as I am.)

Second of all, you can give recommendations to kids who are not "A" students -- sometimes a student's good qualities are outside the classroom. That student might still be a positive contributor to a college campus. Many a "C" student turns around in college because the challenge and style of education is different. You just don't have to say the student is academically strong -- it will be evident on the transcript anyway. You say, "Although he didn't excel in my class, he has made a positive contribution to our school environment..." Also, some kids went from an "F" to a "C" and you want to acknowledge the hard work that took. Being able to develop also makes you someone who may do very well in college.

Bravo, Pissed Off, for doing so much work for your kids. I know they seem ungrateful -- I know some of my classmates and I did. But, we really appreciate it, especially when we know that the teacher is intelligent and hard working. We know it's an honor to get those recommendations, even if we don't show it. We're too absorbed in being "promising".

And then we hit the real world, of course.

JUSTICE not "just us" said...

Federal law does "protect" the rights of special needs children it is just that that the DOE does not follow the law!