Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Principal's Suggestion Box Letters #10 and #11

These letters are absolutely fictional (to protect the innocent and not-so-innocent.) But, with the hint of truth, maybe we can make some adjustments. Principals have the best chance to do that.

Letter # 10
Dear Principal,

I have a concern about collaborating with Special Education. Mr. W is requiring too much input and time on behalf of just one student, who seems to be doing fine without much outside help. I know it is just two weeks into the school year, but with 34 fourth graders (and several more 'active'  ones than usual), it seems an inappropriate use of my time to be focusing on one student. His mother is just as bad, wanting daily updates and 'documentation' of his progress. And Mr.W doesn't just pull Jordan over to the table to finish his work, like Mrs. T did before she retired, but helps any student that requests it. Is he supposed to do that? Is he qualified to do that? It seems disruptive to the flow of the class. He makes suggestions about all the students.This year just isn't like other years, like its supposed to be. Can you speak to Mr. W?

Thanks,
Mrs. M, Concerned and Somewhat Overwhelmed Teacher

Letter #11
Dear Principal,

I have a concern about collaborating in the General Education room of Mrs. M. She has experience working with Special Education with Mrs. T, but now the model has changed, per District instruction. The individualized education plan that Jordan has includes Common Core goals of working with other students. Mrs. M is resisting this, and prefers he has pull-out, either to the Resource Room or to a corner of the class. When Jordan does join my Reading Intervention in the Resource Room, he misses Math instruction in Mrs. M's room, which he isn't supposed to. She says 'it is just so much more quiet when he's gone.' I know there are several 'active' students in her class this year, which I can help with, but Jordan really needs his math. Jordan's parent feels that Mrs. M is cutting her off, and won't communicate. Can you help us?

Thanks,
Mr.W,  Concerned and Somewhat Overwhelmed Teacher


 IEP Collaboration Techniques http://www.understandingspecialeducation.com/iep-collaboration.html


Collaboration - the heart of the matter


http://seonline.tki.org.nz/IEP/IEP-guidelines/Collaboration 


Collaboration Between General and Special Education Teachers


https://www.teachervision.com/teaching-methods/resource/2941.html 


Communicate With Special Education Parents


Some Strategies for Keeping Parents Happy and Informed


http://specialed.about.com/od/classroommanagement/a/communicationparents.htm 


Educational Leadership Philosophy
Special Needs Education


http://teaching.about.com/od/admin/ss/Educational-Leadership-Philosophy_7.htm 


My suggestion: Collaboration can be a sensitive issue. Principals need to be up-to-date on District expectations as well as school personalities (not that, as professionals, we let personality get in the way. Ha!) In this scenario, there is more at play than only collaboration. Mrs. M's class may have been the 'dumping ground' for the active kids plus the Special Ed. kids. That sometimes happens, unfortunately. If the school at large just has lots of active kids, then there needs to be a schoolwide behavior management plan developed by the school staff that is generally implemented by all staff all day--at recess, lunch, before and after school programs--so the kids know what to expect, and the limitations.The classrooms will be more calm.


As far as two teachers collaborating with a new model--have a training for all teachers involved led by a District Special Education leader. Clarify expectations in the IEP for each other and the parents,  and what the District needs from the team. You might even invite the parents. Don't let them loose on each other the first day of school cold turkey. A teacher's classroom is her/his castle--don't make it so the SpecEd teacher sets off an intruder alert. Principals have great influence on their staff and can create a positive, calm climate of camaradie. 

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