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!

1 comment:

Michelle said...

this is a great post and i agree with everything you are saying. accountability is SO important. kudos to you for trying to teach it. as for relaxing this weekend--HA! you have two nephews to care for! :) good thing they are super cute...

can't wait to see you! have a safe flight! p.s. can you throw some shabbos candles in your luggage? i would be very grateful. xo! -m