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Posted by on in Special Education

Once in awhile we meet Henry. He may be your child. Henry inspires and teaches that we all belong together. Tonight I am writing about Inclusion, in particular, one young spirit who overcame many obstacles, and his devoted mother. Mama love. Get your tissues, this story is like Rudy, Rocky and every feel-good inspirational book and movie, ever. Be sure to watch Henry's last basketball game with someone you love.

Before I moved to Eugene to be with my kids, my husband and I had a historic home in the middle of nowhere, Northern California. There were a couple of towns nearby, but our house was a kind of hang-out, with a pond, barn, community gardens, wildllife and berries. I was teaching at nearby Chapman University, and tutoring a lot of kids at the property. One day Patricia Storrs brought Henry over to work in the garden and see the house. He had been reluctant, fearful of the 1858 ghosts, incuding Mark Twain. 

Henry stayed in the car for over an hour. Patti and I checked on him, let him garner courage, and then he walked the property, house and had a great time touring on his own. It was joyous seeing him emerge from that car and do his thing. I knew that day that Henry is special, in the very best way.

Henry is a hometown hero.

While Principal, we had the District LH class on our campus. First thing I did was move the kids from the trailer in the North Forty right into the middle of our campus. Our students were fully included, or nearly, most of the day and participated in every school project, club and activity. The class was in charge of the the wildlife compound outside their door. These kids were our Henry, believe me.

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Posted by on in Special Education

Special Ed

Demanding. Annoying. Angry. Unrealistic. Unreasonable. Every teacher, principal, and school district administrator knows *that* parent. In special education, there are much greater numbers of *that* parent, and I'm sure school systems feel irritated and challenged by the threats of law suits and seemingly endless fights over Individualized Education Plan (IEP) goals. But do they realize their role in creating *that* parent?

In an earlier post, I begged teachers not to force parents to become *that* parent, explaining that all parents, and especially those of children with special needs, want to be liked and work in partnership with their children's teachers. The incident I cited was the failure of a special education teacher to communicate with the parents of a non-verbal child, or even to answer their emails asking about the child spending time in a "quiet room" and the lack of a behavior plan for its use.

After five emails, the teacher responded and offered to meet. The meeting consisted of her pulling the child's mother aside during pick up time to reassure her that the room was actually more of a closet with a door that didn't lock, that the child chose to go to the room, and that it helped to regulate his behavior.

These parents are so polite and accommodating that they accepted the explanation and decided to wait a few days before requesting a more formal meeting. They had arranged for a visit from a specialist in teaching reading to non-verbal children, and she was coming that week to train the special education classroom teacher. These trainings were part of the child's IEP. Except the training didn't happen because the school failed to arrange for a sub. Instead, the school district special education department suggested a classroom aide could be trained. But it is not legal for anyone other then a special education teacher to carry out the instructional minutes mandated by the IEP. So no, that didn't happen.

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