The Penny

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.

[Friday, May 28, 2010]

Bad, Bad Blogger - But Good, Good Speech Pathologist!

It's not that I have nothing to say, I'm just so busy writing IEPs and attending meetings that cause me to question my sanity. I still have 5 or 6 more IEPs and a re-eval report to write in the next three weeks.

But I had the last of my deaf kiddos' IEPs on Wednesday, hallelujah! Those are the most time-consuming ones. The teacher of the deaf (TOD) and I sit down together with the curriculum and mark the skills our kids have, write the present levels from that, chose goals from the curriculum items they don't have, write the goals, then write the rest of the IEP pages. It takes forever to do present levels, supplementary aids (we have like 30 things in that section for each kid), and goals. It also takes forever to figure out the services page, because we have to look at the regular ed schedule and extrapolate the times we can pull them, etc. Of course, the district wants them in gen ed at least 80% of the time, so they are in LRE-A. The TOD and I think LRE should be the amount of time they are with people who can sign directly to them, not through an interpreter. IDEA does say to consider communication needs for deaf kids' LRE. ;)

Speaking of the TOD, um, she and I rock. And I have proof.

Just a quick note to comment on what a great lesson or really lessons that we had the pleasure of observing in your classroom and in the Kindergarden classrooms that you collaborate with so well. The reading, writing, listening, speaking, signing, behaving skills were all addressed by the two of you so seamlessly and effectively!!

Please convey our commendations and appreciation to your support staff and co-teachers.

Thanks again for what you do so well.

Woohoo! That was from the Director of Special Education for our county. I'll call him Bill.

Yesterday, Bill and the Coordinator of Special Education for our county (I guess if Bill is the biggest special ed wig, she's the second biggest, and I'll call her Debbie) and another fairly big wig, (I'll call her Kay) came by to observe our program. The TOD told me that they come see her every year. Kay has been out to see us many times this year, because she was handling a situation where we were in mediation with the family. But Bill and Debbie have not been out to see us, and although I've seen them at various trainings, they didn't know me.

They saw the TOD interpreting/co-teaching phonics in gen ed and then working with two of the kids in their classroom. They came to glance in at me working with the other two kids, doing journals. It was AWESOME, because My Favorite Student has recently realized that writing conveys meaning, is able to come up with ideas to write about, and will not accept words that do not fit his writing vision. All of a sudden he has jumped from writing three words to writing 8-12 words. This was what he wrote yesterday (keep in mind that this is from a deaf child who began learning to sign two years ago, at age 5, and has had a CI for less than one year): "I like Pe. red ball two fras run tag. me sat." (I like P.E. Red ball two friends run tag. Me sit.) I did help him spell two and tag; he spelled friends himself; and he sounded out "sit" but wrote sat because he's not good at distinguishing vowels yet. Anyway, he's awesome. And his deaf classmate wrote, "Me Zachary can slide." Four words? I'll take it! She usually wants to write one or two words and just illustrate.

My Favorite clammed up when Kay came into the room, because she's the one who was there throughout the time he was under a lot of pressure to be very auditory. He doesn't like her. But I immediately said, "Bill, come on over and let (My Favorite) read his journal entry to you!" Big smiles. I didn't want the kids to get weird with Bill and Debbie like they are with Kay. I introduced Bill as my friend, fingerspelled his name, and My Favorite orally read his journal entry. Bill was quite impressed. Then we went to the TOD's room for our pull-out.

We had planned for me to read a story and then have the kids write about it, which we normally do on Wednesdays, but we moved it to Thursday, because we didn't think they'd want to see our usual Thursday activity of playing a game. Games are wonderful for working on communication and other skills (especially math--how many do you have, more, less, equal, etc.), but big wigs don't necessarily recognize that.

So the TOD pretaught some vocabulary and I read Knuffle Bunny. I read the book and asked questions throughout it, like usual. Now, I am a crazy person and do not mind looking like a total fool, so I did my usual facial expressions, gasps of surprise at what happened to Knuffle Bunny, exclamations of shock at what happened next, etc. The TOD "took notes" on a huge piece of paper, writing down things the children said and drawing little pictures. We used that to review the book. Then we had the kids explain their favorite part, write a sentence (or 3, in My Favorite's case: "The bunny is in laundry. Baby. Dad is mad.") using the note TOD made and the sight words they know, and illustrate their writing. Usually we have them illustrate first, because it helps them stay on topic, but I was afraid they would take too long with that and not have time to write. Didn't want that to happen with Bill and Debbie there. Then we had them read their sentences to anyone who would listen (Debbie was very into this).

Throughout all of this, Child A was great, Child B was his usual inattentive and slightly defiant self (although he just turned 6, he's going through that 3-year-old stage where everything is "no" or "why?"), Child C was inattentive and obsessed with Child B was doing, but she didn't hit him, so we were pleased, and Child D (My Favorite) was excellent. Child A and Child D were making comments throughout the story. Child A had an advantage, because she has the book at home.

It was interesting how people behaved different watching us. Debbie tried to interact with the kids using facial expressions, and she gave me a lot of positive nonverbal feedback during the story--almost like a deaf person would. Kay and Bill sat whispering throughout. I wasn't sure how much they heard, since they seemed to be talking most of the time. Later I found out it went something like this, "She's a speech pathologist, you know." "Really?? That's extraordinary. I've never seen a speech pathologist able to lead the lesson." "Yes, we're very fortunate to have her." "She stops so often to get Child C to look at her. What a challenging youngster." "That child has made great improvement with her behavior, but she is quite a challenge." "I love the way they work together. It's quite ideal." "Oh yes, I've been very pleased with them this year."

Of course, in the moment, I was wondering if the whispering was a good or bad sign. But I just looked at the kids, and I wasn't nervous. Child C kept me too busy for that! Plus, I spent two years of grad school being observed nearly all the time when I worked, and once a month during my first year after graduating. You get used to people taking notes about you.

Afterward, Debbie gushed about how that was the BEST storybook reading she had ever seen. Bill wants to videotape me and the TOD as a model of co-teaching, to be used throughout the district. We said sure! What a relief that it went well. After the 45-minute pull-out session, the kids went to math, and the big wigs stayed for most of it. Apparently math went well, too. I wasn't in there, because I had my little preschool speech only students.

I'm happy that they were happy. I wonder if the videotaping thing will really happen.

Now if only they would explain our awesomeness to the parents of our students.


Post a Comment