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Topic: Any Special Needs Teachers Out There?

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Subject: Any Special Needs Teachers Out There?
Date Posted: 7/17/2007 2:04 PM ET
Member Since: 6/2/2007
Posts: 5
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Hi Anyone/Everyone:  I am hopefully going to be teaching either this year or next in the Exceptional Needs Field after staying home with my kids for about 15 years.  I long-term substituted this past spring with BD/ED Junior High (nothing like throwing me in the deep water huh?).  I totally loved it but felt the district/aide I worked with could have challenged the kids a little more than they did.  We taught them Tuck Everlasting & Night Of The Twister which 75% understood and loved.  I had maybe 2/8 that this was way over their head.  I was just wondering what others have used in the past or have you just watered down and filtered what was mandated from the district (this is how the high school special ed teachers apply the scope and sequence)?  What has worked for you and what hasn't?

Thanks for all advice given!

Mary

 

Date Posted: 7/18/2007 3:35 AM ET
Member Since: 5/6/2007
Posts: 208
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Hi, I currently teach an ED elementary class, last year 3-5, next year just 4 and 5. I use the regular curriculum. I supplement the reading big time tho because I hate the reading book. My students have read Hatchet (great book, kids love it), Old Yeller, Matilda, How to Eat Fried Worms, Because of Winn-Dixie, Charlie & Chocolate Factory, Call of the Wild, Ella Enchanted (big hit, boys were the biggest fans), Where the Red Fern Grows, Shiloh,  and Charlotte's Web. I have kids who range from on level to pre-primer readers. I found that reading the books increased all their reading levels as well as comp skills. Some I read to them with them following along and allowing them to volunteer to read, some they read aloud and some I use a CD as they read. I also use Edhelper for quizzes, word searches, etc. They have a large selection of book units and is well worth the price.

I wouldnt say I water down, I just adapt. I also tell my students that the books are easy and exciting. If they feel you love it, they usually do. I also give them veto power. If after 4 or 5 chapters, the majority do not like the book, they vote to stop reading it. I always give them a choice between 2 novels, even if we end up reading both. I have been pleasantly surprised by what they loved and what they hated.

My best advice: show enthusiasm, give them choices, if possible-watch a movie of the book and have them compare (they love this) and if all else fails, try something else. LOL

Lorene

Date Posted: 7/19/2007 6:01 PM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2007
Posts: 4,546
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Mary, I teach LD/CD students in grades K-3.  I stayed home with my boys for 10 years, then subbed for almost 3 before getting my own classroom.  My students are very low and there is little home support, so I have to really start off and stay enthusiastic about what I expect them to accomplish during the school year.  I tell them that I believe in them and that they are capable of doing everything I put in front of them, if they are willing to give me their best effort each and every day.  It's exhausting staying "up" all the time, but it pays off in the end.  In the last 7 years I've had only one student who didn't get where I wanted her to go.  So, my best advice is, like Lorene said,  stay enthusiastic; be clear on your goals for the kids, both short and long term; it's ok to say 'no'  to extra activities at work; and, most important of all, take care of yourself.  It's easy to get too involved in your work and forget to take care of your health; I learned that the hard way.  Good luck!

 

Sandy

Date Posted: 7/20/2007 5:29 AM ET
Member Since: 5/6/2007
Posts: 208
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A BIG amen to the taking care of your health. Its hard enough to stay healthy around kids anyway, but when you throw in the stress, you are really open to every germ that comes down the pike.  Another big one to mention is Dont Take It Personally!! If kids are taking it out on you, that means you are succeeding in creating a happy, healthy, and above all, SAFE place for them to express themselves. Emulate Scarlett Ohara....tomorrow is another day.

By the way Sandy, I love your tag line. I never heard it until your post and I laughed my hinney off. Im thinking of making a sign of it and posting it in my classroom, lol.

Lorene

Date Posted: 7/20/2007 10:03 PM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2007
Posts: 4,546
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Lorene,

If you haven't read Bill Bryson, you must pick up a few of his books, or better yet, listen to him on audio.  The man is wickedly funny.  I'm completely blanking on which book that quote is from.  I'm thinking it's from The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America. I made a sign for a friend who has an ED classroom.  On it I put a chain labeled 'Chain of Command'.  The quote underneath is "You know what the chain of command is? It's a chain I beat you with till you understand who's in ruttin' command here."  Quote was stolen from Firefly.  She has a high school class and kids with a good sense of humor.

 

Sandy

Date Posted: 7/20/2007 11:27 PM ET
Member Since: 5/6/2007
Posts: 208
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Oh, my! I love it. I may have to appropriate that one to. My kids may not understand my humor; they just think Im weird. I have one sign that I have had since I started teaching (from high school to middle school and now elementary) that states:

Welcome to Tuttleland! This is NOT a democracy.

Whenever someone in class asks why about anything, someone always points to the sign and says Remember, Tuttle is the dictator!

I will definitly look for Bill Bryson books here and grab a few. Thanks for the tip.

Lorene

Date Posted: 7/21/2007 6:47 PM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2007
Posts: 4,546
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We must be kindred, Lorene, because I tell my students that same thing at the beginning of each school year.  LOL! 

Sandy

Date Posted: 7/22/2007 10:00 AM ET
Member Since: 5/6/2007
Posts: 208
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We must be, Sandy. So I will share my absolute favorite saying with you. In fact I had it put on a t-shirt and wear it to those damn buyback days just to annoy my principal. It says My reason for teaching in front and in back it says where else do you get to torture children and get paid for it? LOL. Drives her nuts. I am always looking for new t-shirts that will make her head spin LOL.

Funny thing is, my students always tell people that too!

Lorene

Date Posted: 7/22/2007 10:00 AM ET
Member Since: 5/6/2007
Posts: 208
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Last Edited on: 7/22/07 10:00 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/22/2007 12:59 PM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2007
Posts: 4,546
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ROFLMAO!!  I love it!  If I come across any head spinners, I'll be sure to let you know.

Sandy

Date Posted: 7/22/2007 3:13 PM ET
Member Since: 5/6/2007
Posts: 208
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Thanks, I appreciate it. I create a class yearbook every year since I teach at a mainstream campus and not at my home school (thank God!). This year I plan on making class t-shirts that say Yes! on the front and stuff like we can all succeed on the back. Then Im taking a picture for the yearbook with my kids wearing the shirts and I will be wearing my shirt that says....Did you have a big bowl of stupid this morning?  I really want to see if she notices it in the yearbook. You may hear the blood vessels blowing way out in your neck of the woods! ROFL

Lorene

Date Posted: 7/22/2007 3:15 PM ET
Member Since: 5/6/2007
Posts: 208
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Hmmmm. Maybe this is why everyone says that if I wasnt teaching the class, I would be in it! Ya think?

Date Posted: 7/22/2007 5:16 PM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2007
Posts: 4,546
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LOL!  Oddly enough, one of the best ED teachers we have in the district was identified as ED in school.  Her ex-husband, who it looks like is going to be our new principal, was in the ED class with her through high school.  She was successful in overcoming her issues, he ws not.  But that's a story for another time.  All I can say about that is, it's going to be a very long year.

I want the one that says "Who peed in your cornflakes?"  ;-)

Date Posted: 7/22/2007 5:16 PM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2007
Posts: 4,546
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Do you think we scared Mary?  *g*

Date Posted: 7/23/2007 4:53 AM ET
Member Since: 5/6/2007
Posts: 208
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Hey, we probably did. But lets face it, most teachers are a little different anyway. You have to be. My mom's a realtor and once I asked her what clients were her weirdest and without hesitation she said teachers. The sad/funny thing is she is right. We are all a little off otherwise we would not put up with a profession with low pay, long hours, indifferent or overprotective parents and "clients" who really dont care about learning; theyre just there for the social life.

On the other hand, who else is in absolute control (tee hee hee), can really have fun annoying people, and when you have those days when you are fed up, you have that one kid who finally *gets* it and the joy and wonder on their face makes it all worthwhile.

Lorene

By the way, you notice there is no surprise that an ED person is now a principal? I think they all are, lol. I have a theory that when you become a principal not only have you forgotten what its like to be a teacher, but your soul dies. Can I get an amen, lol?

Date Posted: 7/23/2007 7:35 PM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2007
Posts: 4,546
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Amen!  Although I've been really lucky and have had great principals for the last 7 years.  I knew my luck would run out sooner or later.

Aren't we supposed to be weird?  Pretty sure it's in the job description. ;-)  A dear friend and fellow sp. ed. teacher used to stop in the middle of conversations to look at me and exclaim "Does it scare you that she works with small children?"  LOL!  I need to put that on a shirt one day, but change the 'she' to 'I'.

I love those days when you're about to give up hope and suddently you see that Ah Ha! look on someone's face.  It's beautiful.  I had a particularly difficult student come by to see me at the end of the year last school year.  We went through a lot together, he and I, before I was finally able to get him identified as ED way back in third grade.  He's now in 9th grade.  He stopped by to chat for a bit then said Mrs. Herbert, you were the only one who ever believed in me.  Stopped me dead in my tracks, believe me. THAT"S why I stick around when it seems like everything's turning to s**t.

 

Sandy

Date Posted: 7/24/2007 3:32 PM ET
Member Since: 9/28/2005
Posts: 226
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I'm another who stayed home with my son til in school a full day which coincided w/ex-husband leaving.  Subbed til I regained my teaching certificate.  I taught LD in a parochial school for 4 years, and modified the curriculum and worked hard to keep motivation up, as I guess we all do!

I teach a severe/multiple disabilities class with majority of students severely autistic.  I love the kids and the work, but feel extremely isolated with the only self-contained class in the building.  My co-op is pretty spread out so my connection with others doing this work is very limited.  It's a completely different world from what I was doing before.  Any other severe/intense intervention teachers out there to share ideas, commiserate, etc.?

Date Posted: 7/29/2007 2:44 PM ET
Member Since: 5/29/2007
Posts: 13,347
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Last Edited on: 11/7/08 7:27 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/29/2007 7:41 PM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2007
Posts: 4,546
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Susan, I don't work with the severe/intense students, but I can understand your isolation issue.  The first three years I taught at my school, we were in an old building and my classroom was an old locker room.  No windows and far away from the other classrooms.  To be honest, I loved it for the most part, but there were those times when I could have used some adult human contact at times other than lunch.  Is there a way you can schedule some time, once a week, once a month, with your co-op to get together and share thoughts/ideas?  It would be great to have a place here to do the same thing, but being able to talk to someone who knows the kids and teachers you're working with is probably more what you need to keep from feeling isolated.  Talk to your principal or special ed supervisor and see if they can help organize something.

Julie, thank you.  Teachers don't get a lot of respect, let alone thanks anymore.  Nice to know that there are folks out there who understand and appreciate teachers.

Date Posted: 7/29/2007 7:51 PM ET
Member Since: 5/6/2007
Posts: 208
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Susan, I agree wholeheartedly with Sandy. You need to have contacts. I dont have severely handicapped students, just ED. I just have to be able to duck real well, lol. Since I teach at a site other than my home school, I was worried about being isolated as I as the last classroom at the farthest end of the portables away from the school building. My advice is to follow Sandy's advice and also to just make yourself known. You could have students come in from other classes to read to your kids. You could let teachers who are having a problem with a student and dont want them in the classroom for awhile but dont want to send them to the office, come down and "visit" for awhile while doing their work. I kinda just walked into people's classes, intoduced myself and asked if I could bring kids in their class with an aide or myself accompanying the kids. I stressed that I would work with their students as well and most were happy to do it at least once in awhile. Can form some good friends that way. Try it out and good luck.

 

Julie, thank you.

Date Posted: 7/29/2007 8:10 PM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2007
Posts: 4,546
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Lorene!  I found a shirt for you!  I have a friend with a shop on Cafe Press and he's put up a shirt that says "Can I see some I.Q, please".  I'm dying to get one. My favorite is the one at the bottom of the page, "Will trade s**t for brainz", but somehow I don't think either of us would be able to get away with that one on school grounds. LOL!  Here's the link.  He has it available as a collared golf shirt, perfect for work. ;-)

http://www.cafepress.com/10thcrew/1041858

 

Date Posted: 7/30/2007 3:34 PM ET
Member Since: 9/28/2005
Posts: 226
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Thanks Sandy and Lorene for the ideas!  I've visited the mod/severe classes in my neighboring district, and have had at least some contact that way.  I am entering my third year with this class at this school.  I had a mentor teacher two years ago who teaches LD but has a severe license.  Her litany was "I don't know, I've never done one of those, I don't know ask the supervisor or somebody else, and finally "Why do I have to do this?"  Unfortunately, this does not seem to be an isolated attitude. There was a very productive autism inservice last year with teachers over this widespread co-op.  It would be great to get that group together regularly, but it would have to be after school which I know for most (and me) would be difficult.  I do have "buddies" from the 5th and 6th grade come in weekly.  I like the idea of maybe bringing a couple of my kids into the gen.ed. homeroom.  They already go out for the special subjects.  I think the gen. ed. teachers in my building care about the class, but are not sure what to do.  For my part, I was so overwhelmed these past two years that I haven't been able to make connections.  It's been hard even getting out for lunch.

Hopefully this year I'll be able to get out there more!  Sandy and Lorene, bless you for working in a locker room and at the far end of a portable!  Puts my situation into perspective. 

And Julie thank you.  That was so heartening to see!

Date Posted: 7/31/2007 5:16 PM ET
Member Since: 5/6/2007
Posts: 208
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Sandy- thanks for the heads up! I love it! Im gonna order 1 or 3 lol. I just found out Im getting a kiddo back who really does not belong in my class so Im looking to really tick her off now!! <evil grin>

Date Posted: 7/31/2007 7:51 PM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2007
Posts: 4,546
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Lorene~ our ED teacher learned that she's getting one of my former students and I have her really worried.  I had this kid as a first grader and he was the most violent little guy I've ever seen, not to mention that his mother is a liar and not exactly on the right side of sane.  I worked all year to try and get him identified, but we were told his tests showed that he was a sociopath and therefore not able to qualify for ED and while I understand the distinction, I still don't get why the most troubled kids are left twisting in the wind in my district.  Anyway, something must have changed because he's now a 5th grader and was identified somewhere along the way.  I can't wait to find out what did it, because in first grade, he assaulted a neighborhood child with a 2x4, putting her in the hospital for a week, all because she'd ridden her bike across 'his' driveway.  Witnesses say that she did nothing to provoke him, she was just riding her bike on the sidewalk and he went berserk when she rode over the part of the sidewalk that crossed the driveway.  Police did nothing because he was only 7. Kid was as big as a fourth grade at 7 and knew how to throw every bit of his size around.

His mother hated me because I wouldn't let him get away with anything and I actually tried to teach him to read against his will.  I'm such a b***h that way!  It's going to be interesting seeing what happens this year as our ED teacher is a formidable woman and takes crap from no one.  If this kid's mother tries to pull the stuff she tried to pull on me, with her, she's going to be in for a rude awakening. I'm not pushover and she didn't get away with anything, but Robinn will eat her for lunch.  LOL!

Susan~ did we mention that it helps to have a great sense of humor and be slightly deranged? 

Date Posted: 8/1/2007 3:19 AM ET
Member Since: 5/6/2007
Posts: 208
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I never understand why it takes so long to get a kid the environment he needs. In a district I used to teach in, they would keep passing the kiddo along until he got to middle school. MS in my old district didnt put up with crap....the kid was in ED before the first week was over!

Where I teach now, I think they put to many kids in that dont need our program. Example: we have a child who is retarded and acts out due to frustration and his home district pays us to keep him in our Ed school. Why? I dont know. Most of my kiddos could be in regular sped classes or regular ed if they just had parents who gave a damn. I have come to the conclusion that people should have to get licensed to have kids and have to renew the license every 2 years! Think of the money we would save! 90% of our social problems would disappear.

Oh well, I can dream

 

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