Monday, March 22, 2010

this time of year

what i am doing with my time:

cleaning, cleaning, and more cleaning.

lists, lists, and more lists.

i like making lists but in this case i feel like it just showcases all that i need to do, they keep getting longer, not shorter. i did find last year's lists/menus so it should help. also, (gasp!) i am getting some cleaning help (i don't have a cleaning lady during the rest of they year).

errands, errands, and more errands

haircuts, haircuts, and more haircuts

work, work, and more work (iep paperwork just keeps getting longer)

spring break is coming!! yay, all of pesach will be spent at home and with my family which doesn't happen often (usually i have to work during chol hamoed).

worrying about all the school budget cuts happening all over the city.

hoping i will still have a job next year (i am pretty sure i will but you just never know).

researching gardening/ how to grow plants in my backyard..

more later. . .

Thursday, March 4, 2010

accountability, etc.

I'm finally getting around to writing about accountability.

This is a very important topic for me as it seems to rear it's ugly head almost daily in my life.

A few weeks ago after report cards came out some of my students had D's and F's on their report cards. Now, anyone who knows anything about special ed knows that it is really not ok to put those kinds of grades on a report card of an IEP student. Why? Because that usually means something is wrong in the IEP and it's not working. And usually I agree with that. I just don't see a lot of point in giving special ed students failing grades-they are already working extra hard.

But what about when the grades are already modified (changed to help the student succeed)? And they are receiving all the modifications and accommodations listed in their IEP? So, simply put they are just not doing the work that is expected of them. What happens then? Philosophically speaking, is giving them a passing grade in that situation appropriate? It's certainly not the way real life works.

Just to backtrack for a minute: I have mentioned before that I work in "the ghetto." (please don't be offended-my students call it that). And my students more than any other in the school are lacking so many things-money, family support(emotional), sometimes even food and clothes. So I understand that there are many factors that get in the way of their success. However, when do I stop making excuses for them and start to demand responsibility?

I truly feel that constantly lowering my expectations for responsibility does no one any good. It just continues the cycle of entitlement and the feeling that they don't have to try because there will be no real consequences for their actions. I think our society has completely enabled people with labels, people who fall in the special ed category. It's not a free pass. But I think that has trickled down from society. Students with disabilities need different things (hence, the individualized part of the IEP). Certainly they should have full and complete access to what they need. But that does not mean there are no consequences. Good or bad. Maybe the consequences will be different from others. But there are still certain results as a cause of specific actions. Whether or not it is because of a disability.

I'm getting a little off topic because I really want to focus on a situation that happened with a student that has an IEP but what happened is not a result of her disability. So here goes. An eighth grader I teach got a D in writing last quarter. I had been in touch with her parents over the course of that time (when she was missing assignments) and so it should not have been a surprise to them when she received that grade. Why did she get that grade? Simply because she did not turn in any work. Writing is difficult for her. However, she barely qualified for special ed services and organization is not an issue that is addressed in her IEP. And yet, the parents want to blame me and say that it is because I am not doing my job (they didn't actually say that, but it was implied). It is always easier to blame someone else than actually deal with the real problem. Anyway, besides the fact that I was personally offended (I work my butt off!!) they are doing their daughter such a disservice. She always has some sort of excuse why something isn't done (too noisy, couldn't finish it-the computer isn't working, etc.). She also tells her parents one thing and her teachers something different. So she is manipulative and trying to get out of work that she has to put more effort into to achieve a satisfactory result. She absolutely earned that grade. But am I not supposed to give it to her just because she has an IEP?

The grade stands and the principal supports me. And I documented myself well (note to teachers reading this-document, document, document so you CYA). There was a little more drama involved because they went behind my back to get sympathy and agreement from other staff members. However, it actually ended fine so far because it is not about me. It is about what is best for the student. Ultimately I want my students to be successful and however that needs to happen I will do it. But it is hard to do this job and feel like you are not helping, only enabling. I hate that.

Unfortunately, progress reports come out next week so the cycle will just repeat itself again. UGH. . . not looking forward.

Stepping off soapbox for now. . .

In some other news:

My sister had a baby boy on Sunday!!! Yay!! She made it to 36 1/2weeks! I'm going to the bris this weekend without any children. We'll see if I get to relax at all.

Little T lost her first tooth this week! She has a gap now in the bottom of her mouth.

Purim was low-key which is just the way I like it! I'll upload some pics soon!

Busy week and it is just getting busier as we move closer to Pesach!