Friday, October 03, 2008

Update: Teacher Meetings

I met with Ms. A, but really didn't get much farther. The upshot is Joey is bored and needs to be challenged, so she is meeting with his case manager to figure out what to do.

See, special education is not set up to deal with gifted kids who have special needs. They are set up for physical disability and mental retardation. They are set up to slow down, take a slower pace to get to academic material, rather than set up new ways of communicating information and with children. The idea of a special ed gifted child is considered a contradiction in terms, a real paradox by people who have no idea what special ed- and by some folks who teach there. They are not trained to deal with a child whose challenges don't include the academics.

Joey's last teacher was a creative, dynamic lady who could deal with this sort of thing. She was a whiz at making lessons and activities fit a whole range of needs and expectations.

This lady is worried about Joey feeling "different" if she gives him different work. I can understand that problem, but the fat is, Joey is different. Maybe instead of hiding it from him, we should embrace it, and help him to embrace it. Give him the challenge. Make his school work relevant to him. Is it a different worksheet from the person next to you? Sure it is. Can you accept the challenge, Joey? How about this extra work? Or better yet, extra fun?

Right now, Ms. A is handling it by having Joey hep other students. He is therefore forced to interact with other kids (she doesn't allow him to just do their work). No wonder he's been saying he wants to be a teacher when he grows up. It's an OK idea, it gives Joey the challenge of social skills that he does need, but Joey isn't progressing in the academics. I remember being bored in school. Boredom leads to all sorts of problems- including social ones.

So we are working on it. I did make sure certain things got noted, such as the cafeteria situation being dangerous- you can't just leave my kid to flounder with a change in schedule. I don't really care that you went over the change with your other students that morning- you have to be sure Joey not only gets told what is coming, but if it is a major change, you have to guide him through it- actively. She just comes across as an OK teacher, doing an OK job, and so Joey is just doing OK with her. What can anyone expect?


kristi said...

WOW...what are these schools doing?? Is every child NOT different?? My son is in a life skills class and he is learning, he is ahead of most of his classmates. He still does not read though. His teacher works with him ONE ON ONE to help him learn. Is this NOT what they do with Joey?

Joeymom said...

They have some one-on-one, but there are a lot more students in his classes this year. In the morning until about 11:30, he is in with two other students working on social skills and other life skill IEP goals. Then he goes to the self-contained room, which is already up to 10 kids this year. That room has a teacher and a para, plus the para from the morning class follows, because Joey is in there with one of his other morning classmates. Then he has reading group and "core" (science and social studies) in the inclusion room. Right now, the morning para goes with him to that, but if we get another child in the morning that requires intensive intervention, she will be recalled to that room instead of being able to follow Joey. I'll probably have to call an IEP and ask for an individual aide, and I can assure you I will not get it. Joey s too "high functioning."

little.birdy said...

I remember working with Joey being both a delight and a challenge...a delightful challenge! :) I hope the teacher starts seeing a little more delight and a little less challenge in the situation soon. Would it really be so difficult to ramp up the academic level a little? I think that's a difference that Joey can take pride in.

Angel The Alien said...

I used to be a 1:1 aide for a little guy with autism who was very intelligent (also named Joey!) and I would teach him all of his academic subjects privately while the other kids were learning theirs. It worked out well because I basically designed my own curriculum for him as i went along and kept him challenged and interested. He was with the other kids during all group activities, and if they were doing something fun in their academic work (like jollyphonics or a special project) he would join them even though it might be really easy for him. It worked out well. I wonder why they don't do something like that for your Joey? If he's not advancing academically, when he is definitely capable of it, then doesn't that defeat half the purpose of school?