Thursday, January 05, 2006

More than I care to report...

I’ve read (and written) a whole lot of reports. And assessments. And IEP’s. More than I care to count. I hate reports and assessments and IEP’s and have found them, for the most part, to be very impractical and at times pretty useless and inaccurate. You might be thinking, but wait, I have this really wonderful report written by (insert noted expert’s name here), but I would argue that you are probably wrong. I clearly remember discovering how useless reports, IEP’s and assessments were to me on my first day of teaching an SDC class of children all diagnosed with autism, grades K-4 (Don’t even get me started on the genius of that plan). As I waited at the front of the school to pick up some of my kids, someone came out of the school office to tell me that the bus driver, at back of the school called to let them know that Jeremy had ran out of the bus and I needed to get him, as well as my other students slowly disregulating on the bus for me. Let’s see, Jeremy (whom I had never met)…can count rote to 100, adds double digit numbers, receives OT 2x’s per week for 30 min., had a behavioral plan for aggression the previous year…I was sure I could locate him somewhere on the campus of oh, say 800 restless kids who had yet to enter their own classroom for the first time this year. After all, I was very familiar with autism and my class was the only SDC class on campus, as it had been moved here this year because the school it was at the previous year ran out of room…

So after a whole lot of chaos which included oh-so-wonderful first time encounters with several of the general ed. teachers I had not yet met “Hi, I’m the new SDC teacher here…you know the one you resent for getting one of the bigger classrooms because we needed a sink for the new class that you can’t even understand why has to be on our campus and now is MAKING you take one of her students for math ‘cause it’s the law’, even though it really isn’t your problem. Lovely to meet you too”. one of the aides from the previous year (we at least got to keep something) showed up and helped us locate Jeremy and get him and my now (due to 15 minutes of waiting) extremely disregulated students into the classroom. After that, I proceeded to have one of the most chaotic, crazy, disheartening, frustrating and disregulating, days of my life. I realized that I had nearly committed to memory almost 8 feet worth of reports and IEP’s, that did not tell me anything I really would have liked or needed to know…

What I would have liked and needed to know is that Jeremy is quite agile and coordinated, loves the colors pink and black, craves a lot of deep pressure and will eat chalk (entire pieces of chalk). I would have liked and needed to know that William, loves to be chased and the best way to make that happen is by running away from people, especially during long fire drills where you are outside and there are plenty of people to chase you, really thrives with a photo schedule, doesn’t like having furniture moved, is very affectionate, happy and loves music. I would have liked to know that Steven loves Good Night Moon, is very interested in the weather and seasons, and likes things to be very clean and neat.

Instead I knew that Jeremy added two digit numbers 80% of the time 4 out of 5 trials, William could read 25 sight words, including STOP (yes, he could read the word STOP, but would not do so when running through a field with 800 students and teachers). And that Steven knew the phonics sounds of all 26 letters 90% of the time.

As I read some amazing blogs about children like sweet India, charming Bud and a cute little guy named Charlie, I realize now, that instead of a stack of reports and IEP’s, in order to know, understand, work with, accommodate and teach others about my students, what I really needed for each of my new students was a blog.

10 Comments:

Blogger MOM-NOS said...

This very question has been an ongoing internal debate for me - should I share my blog with the teachers and professionals who work with Bud? Would I find as he gets older that I'd feel compelled to edit because of the potential audience? Would that risk outweigh the potential benefit of helping them to know Bud as I know him? I'm just not sure.

5:42 PM  
Blogger QueenBitch said...

Girl, this so hits a nerve with me. The whole IEP thing is a joke. I went with my mother to a meeting about my nephew's IEP, we took print-outs with information about autism and Asperger's, specifically, and just got blank stares. Either blank stares or bitchy teachers who couldn't get past his "unacceptable" behavior even to acknowledge that there is a reason for it -- primarily, their refusal to work with his autism. And forget about us trying to explain his personality to them -- to them, his personality cannot be any other way than what they deem "socially acceptable."

It never ceases to amaze me that someone who doesn't have the capacity for acceptance -- especially of children -- would get into the teaching profession. The majority would be much better suited for a corporate HR job or something.

I wish there were more teachers like you!! Maybe you'll get a revolution in teaching those with autism going.

Thanks for continuing to share.

5:53 PM  
Blogger Eileen said...

About a month ago, I came to realize that Andrew's paraprofessional reads my blog. I had no idea that anyone from his school even knew about it, but I guess they do. I love his para. She is so great and dedicated. I am sure she is reading to find out more about Andrew. This is better than the communication notebook that goes back and forth each day. You are so right that each child should have a blog. As a Special Education Teacher myself, I can completely relate to everything you have written regarding IEP's, reports and all. Parent and teacher communication is what has always worked best for me as a teacher and now the same is true as the parent.

I am so glad I found your blog!

6:40 PM  
Blogger Octoberbabies said...

Ah, to share or not to share!!! I'm still on the fence about that one but I can see how it would make a big difference in how India's teachers get to know her (and us).

IEPs are ridiculous. How can you follow an IEP that's whipped up once every 6-12 months when we're talking about kids who change so quickly, who gain and sometimes lose skills in what feels a lot like overnight?

7:12 PM  
Blogger SquareGirl said...

Mom-Nos, it is an interesting question...I truly understand your unwillingness to share...no one I know knows about this blog, save my wonderfully loving nonjudgemental sister who knows me more than anyone. In my utopian world that I am creating in my head, all professionals would be loving, kind, positive and nonjudgemental and along with parents would collaborate to make a comprehensive blog that would replace all of that dead paperwork. And the blog would allow us to know the person...I cannot tell you how many files I have read, only to meet the child and realize how little the file was a representation of the actual person.

QB-yes, I know about the IEP thing. I just don't get it...this is going to sound very strange, but a couple months ago inspired by a dream, I woke up in the middle of the night and literally wrote an entire chapter on how people in this field need to be more loving and accepting...where I will go with that remains to be seen, but the universe has provided me with some interesting and coincidental messages lately

Eileen - I really just current system of reporting is failing to do our children justice...I am always trying to think about how to make it better. It is TRULY an honor to have parents like you reading my blog.

7:14 PM  
Blogger SquareGirl said...

Octoberbabies...I truly understan a parents unwillingness to share...As I mentioned earlier, I am quite selective about who I share my blog with that I know (right now it is only one...my own sister who loves me much in the way Isaac loves his sister). But I know I don't have to tell you...these IEP's are NOT WORKING.

7:18 PM  
Blogger gretchen said...

Funny, I was just talking with a friend this afternoon about Henry's previous school situation. His special ed teachers were working on an itinerant basis- seeing each kid maybe 1 hour each day. And Henry had this ridiculous IEP with like 30 goals. These teachers had hearts of gold, but tried to cram 30 different objectives into their one hour with Henry, and then the rest of the time he was stuck in front of the computer...

It was frustrating to the teachers, to me, and to Henry.

You're exactly right- the IEP doesn't tell about what makes Henry Henry. That he loves puzzles and Power Rangers and often says he misses his mommy and picks his nose a lot.

2:02 PM  
Blogger Octoberbabies said...

Hey SG, I've resisted the urge to link your blog to mine because I know you're kind of private but if I'm wrong about that and you don't mind me linking, please let me know!

Sal.

7:13 PM  
Blogger SquareGirl said...

I'd be honored if you linked...SquareGirl (though still private herself) serves as the more vociferous one to her alter ego who's privacy is the most important. SG, however is very honored however when others take time to read her posts.

8:53 PM  
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