But I did get 16 clock hours out of the way for the next school year. The workshop I attended for the last two days was on Models of Collaboration. For those of you who aren't familiar with educational "stuff", collaboration came about as a result of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Oh, over the years there have been various methods for providing a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to all students, regardless of their abilities. For students with disabilities, we've done self-contained, mainstreaming, inclusion, and now collaboration.
NCLB requires that a Highly Qualified Teacher (HQT) teach ALL students. The problem with having students with disabilities in a self-contained classroom is that the special education teacher is an HQT in special education, but he or she is usually NOT an HQT for the various subjects that are taught. Luckily, I was highly qualified in language arts AND special education, so I could teach English in a self-contained classroom, and it made it easy for me to transfer into a general ed setting. I still teach the majority of the seniors with IEPs.
For most special education teachers, it would be impossible to become highly qualified in ALL of the subjects that must be taught. Think about it. In a high school setting where there are only one or two special ed teachers (and that is often the case in small, rural schools), the teachers would have to be highly qualified in English, science, math, and social studies. But wait (there's more…) In science, they would have to be highly qualified in physical science, biology, chemistry, etc. In math, they would have to be HQ in algebra, geometry, and pre-cal. Who has the time, energy, or MONEY to go back to school to become highly qualified in all those subjects? Not this chick!
SO, this means that, in most instances, the students must be taught by a teacher in a general education setting by a HQT. Because many general ed teachers aren't the "experts" in accommodating the students with special needs, a special education teacher needs to collaborate with the general ed teacher in order to provide FAPE. Depending on the child, the amount of collaboration between the general ed and the special ed teacher varies. For some students, very few accommodations are needed, so the teachers will keep documentation through email, quick conferences, or a note. Sadly, other students require many accommodations. And that is where collaboration comes in to play.
There are several models of collaboration, and of course, the state department wants everyone to be at the "optimal" level, where there is a special ed teacher in each class, each day, for the entire period. Ummmm…logistically, that is pretty much impossible. At BRHS, we have five special ed teachers. One stays in the resource room all day, so that leaves four to go to all of the classes. Each one has a subject area that he or she does. Rita is the English person, so she goes into the English classes that have special needs students. The problem is that sometimes, four or five of the eight English teachers will have students with IEPs during the same block. How can she be in every room, every day, for the entire block? She can't. Of course, we could put EVERY 9th grade student into the same teacher's class during one block; every 10th grade student would be in another block, so on and so forth, but that ends up being reverse inclusion. And that is frowned upon because the students aren't mixed in with the general ed students.
I was hoping that there would be some fantastic new information that Beth and I could take back to our faculty and administrators, but everything we heard is the same old stuff that we've heard for the last several years. They (state dept. people) keep preaching the "optimal" model, but they don't show us HOW to work around the personnel issues. Those issues all go back to funding. Our system alone had to pink slip over 30 people this year because WE DON'T HAVE THE FUNDING to keep them. It's really frustrating to me because I would LOVE to have Rita as a TRUE co-teacher, but unless I can figure out how to clone her, I don't see it happening. Ho hum!
Ali, Bama, and I are heading to the lake tomorrow. Woo Hoo!!!! J J J I'm about to wake John from his nap, and we're gonna go get groceries tonight. I can't stop tomorrow because it will be TOO hot to leave the pups in the car. And once I get there, I really don't want to leave. I'm planning on staying until about Wednesday. Kristen is coming up next week, I think. Yea!!!! I haven't seen her all summer, and I miss her goofy self!
Have a GREAT rest of the week and weekend. I'll blog at ya later. J