People involved: Special Education Teachers #1(teller), #2 and #3(not present), first grade teachers and the building principal. Last Tuesday, Teacher #1 had another meeting and was not able to attend the meeting with Teachers #2 and 3 and the building principal during which the teachers reported that they had completed 22 special education assessments during the year and teacher #1 had only completed four assessments. Teachers 2 and 3 had felt that it was unfair that Teacher #1 had completed so few. In the schedule, teacher #1 had built in 20 minutes a day for assessments. The other two teachers had built in an average of over an hour a day for assessments. The first grade teacher present said that sometimes you (a teacher) get more kids that need help than others. That can't be predicted. Teacher #1 has been regularly teaching a reading group in each first grade classroom. The others decided that she wouldn't do two of the reading groups to free up more time for assessments. The first grade teacher added that there are seldom special education students identified in first grade. Teacher #1's involvement in regular classes helps to assess the children's performance on a daily basis. Although students aren't formally identified, she knows that some of them will be eventually, and at least can provide service now using inclusive model. If teacher #1 did stop doing two reading groups, the 20 minute slots would not be together, thus would be of little value in assessment time. We, the first grade teachers want to sit down with all three special education teachers. The other two special education teachers need to be flexible in order to carry out the ideas for Inclusion.
A teacher in this situation is frustrated and confused. She has set up her schedule to satisfy her administrator. Now things are to be changed with a paraprofessional taking over her reading groups. A teacher in this position would feel insignificant and pressured into letting a paraprofessional step in and do a certified teacher's job. She feels a great deal of stress in her professional relationship with colleagues. A teacher would feel very frustrated. After giving the problem a great deal of her time and effort and coming up with a solution to the problem she was brushed off. She is trying to be flexible and compromising yet the administrator and the teacher can not agree on a solution. The solution according to the administrator is hiring a paraprofessional to do the teacher's job. The teacher is feeling limited in what she is doing because of the constraints being placed on her by "building unspoken policies". A teacher in such an event might feel frustrated because road blocks are being put up whenever a solution is offered; conflicted because of being torn between special education and 1st grade; and hesitant because of lack of trust with other special education teachers. Teacher would have conflicting feelings on how to deal with the situation. How to deliver the best service but then give time to evaluate the needs of children that too may need assistance. Having the position filled by a paraprofessional would make her training and expertise feel devalued. A teacher in such an event might feel frustrated because her every suggestion was turned down. A person in this situation may feel frustrated due to the inflexibility of other staff members to problem solve effectively. A teacher in such an event might feel conflicted because she wants to work toward an inclusion classroom concept, and is able to do that, however agreement cannot be reached with other special education teachers.
Theories behind practice:
Children that are identified as needing Special Education need services, and some do not get them in Inclusive Classrooms. If Inclusion is going to work, the Special Education Teachers and Regular Education Teachers all have to work together and be flexible. Children in first grade benefit by having a Special Education teacher as a regular part of their classroom. She can assess their needs and provide support and also give information to the classroom teacher. One bonus for Inclusion, less testing/labeling down the line. Problems can be helped early. Special Education teachers should not determine fairness of workload by counting the number of assessments that they complete. Focus on the Learner: Inclusive classroom: are some identified children receiving the amount of services that they need? Are some students falling through the cracks? Kids who don't qualify for Chapter 1/Title 1 receive services anyway because of the Special Education teacher being a regular part of the classroom.
Impact on others:
Teacher #1 wracked her brain to find solutions that would provide her with more time for assessments. On the other hand, we do not have kids that currently need to be assessed. Now the building principal said that she would hire a paraprofessional to take the two reading groups. Teacher #1 feels bad because she is being ousted from an experience she thinks is making a difference to first graders. More solutions suggested. Teachers #2 and 3 said, No. Could the money from Learning Readiness be used? Question from group: Do other schools use special education teachers to lead reading groups? Yes. However the whole point in our school this year is to focus on Inclusion. Teacher #1 has children with the most severe disabilities- all have full time aid. Formerly, Special Education teachers had one day per week with no students when they completed paper work. Building principal said that if people requested that again it would have to come through the teachers' union. Is there a policy for prep time for teachers of Special Education? No. It depends upon the school and district. Special Education Teachers 2 and 3 say have a paraprofessional take the two first grade reading groups.
How is Learning Readiness money used? Is it benefiting the intended audience? Teacher #1 is new and untenured. She is afraid of taking the wrong actions. Is complete Inclusion really desired? Some students need individual services (Special Education teacher #1) how do I deal with inflexibility? "I" messages, Repetition, objective information, Teacher #1 is "child-centered". Isn't that the most important fact? Can Teacher #1 record her teaching load? She has... We will check back next time. Never give up.