Q & A taken from "Meet Your Special Educators" event 9/27/11
Q. Do all teachers get a copy of the IEP? When do they get a copy and is it the same for all Middle Schools?
A. All teachers get copies of the IEP during the 1st week of school. Every trimester, new UA (unified arts) providers also get copies
At Fairgrounds Middle School (FMS), case managers have teachers sign that they have received and read the IEP. At Pennichuck Middle School (PMS), case managers meet with teams during the 1st week to discuss students and highlight specific needs/accommodations for students.
Q. Do all special education teachers meet with their students? How often?
A. Yes, how often depends on the individual needs/desires of the student.
Q. How do you handle students who do not want to be singled out or feel skittish about this?
A. Special Education teachers do not single out students. They move around and work with every student in the class but make sure that SE students know who they are and that they are there to to help them.
By being in the classroom helping all students, it helps to break the perception of teacher as special needs teacher. Most of the students do not even know that they are special education teachers. Many students are looking for help and wanting connections with adults. Teachers are sensitive to this.
Q. What is the difference between different special education teachers?
A. Intensive needs teachers provide more 1-on-1 support/teaching. They work on basic skills such as following a schedule etc. Then they move to small groups for social connection and communication. These skills need to be addressed gradually so that the child feels comfortable and not overwhelmed.
Q. How do we know how far a child is going to progress?
A. That is hard to predict. The team needs to establish short-term goals and objectives and go after them, then assess progress and establish new goals as old goals are accomplished. If a parent needs more team meetings or parent-teacher conferences to feel comfortable with their child's plan and goals, then parents can ask for such meetings.
Q. If a student has been “discharged” from special education, how hard is it to have them re-identified later if new challenges expose new issues or if they are struggling?
A. In order to discharge from services, child would need to be evaluated and the decision to discharge would be made by the team, based on the student’s performance in the classroom and on the assessment measures. The student can be weaned off services with team monitoring progress. If needed their progress can be revisited and support provided again as needed.
To be re-identified would require going through the process again, but the school would have a history to which to refer. Sometimes, students who are discharged will be provided a 504 Plan with accommodations.
It is important to encourage students to use resources that are available in the school (e.g. staying after to work with teacher, guidance counselor, etc). It is helpful to set up a meeting with the guidance counselor in the fall so the counselor gets to know the child and his/her issues.