Friday, November 10, 2006

Welcome to Our World, Part Two

We had a meeting this week with the newly hired Title I Aide for the 7th grade. She had called it to meet with us and to go over the list of the kids that she's going to be working with and getting our insights on them. This is the first year our school has qualified for Title I (for those of you outside the field of education, it's because over 50% of our students qualify for free and reduced lunch; in other words our poverty level is climbing) so this is a new experience for all of us.

I'm impressed with Miss Aide. She's bright, on the ball, enthusiastic, and seems to really want to make a difference. She, and the other aides, are having to create a program from the ground up which is no easy task. She's also working on her Master's in psychology which is pretty amazing if you ask me.

However.

She states that the goal is to work with these kids on math and reading because that's where the greatest need appears to be, so she'll be pulling these kids out of the science and social studies classes for more one on one work with her.

I lock eyes with Mr. Social Studies, and it's apparent we're thinking the same thing. It's the old "screw science and social studies, they don't really matter," mentality that we put up with every year. However, the problem is they do matter. Right now all the government cares about is reading and math, but next year science is going to be added to the list followed shortly by social studies.

I look at the rest of the team and they all have this expression of "Is she nuts?" on their face. It is silent in the room.

Finally, team leader Mrs. Math opens her mouth. "I don't think that's right that the kids get pulled out of science and social studies. They never have aides in their rooms and they always get the special ed kids. We all have inclusion classes with another teacher in the room so the kids get a lot of attention as it is. If the kids need help in math and reading why don't you take them out of math and reading?"

Miss Aide looks a bit taken aback. "Oh, well, that's fine if it's okay with you. We just thought that if they were having trouble in those areas, they probably shouldn't be pulled out of those classes."

Mrs. Math shakes her head, "Honestly, getting pulled out of my class wouldn't be an issue since we work on independent basis anyway. In fact, I'd prefer it." Ms. Reading and Mrs. Language agree. They'd rather have the kids pulled from their rooms than from science and social studies.

Miss Aide looks at Mr. Social Studies and then to me. "So what you're saying is that the kids really need to be in your rooms, and not getting pulled out, right?"

We agree emphatically.

Miss Aide smiles. "Works for me. I'll make sure that any pull outs don't affect science and social studies."

I found out later from Mr. Social Studies that he went to talk to Miss Aide to find out if she'll be doing work in the classrooms in addition to pull out. Apparently she will. Word is she'll be in each of our rooms 2 days a week.

Amazing.

4 comments:

Kris said...

We did the "pull out of social studies" last year. Oh the social studies teachers were quite upset! I don't blame them! The poor students that were being pulled out were the ones who could barely keep up when they were in class, and pulling them for 2 days a week just set them up for failure.

And when you think of how hard the social studies teachers work--as I am sure you do--to help students build their basic reading skills, pulling out seriously seemed ridiculous.

Anyway...wahoo for you for speaking up...and for getting a flexible Title 1 person...and for GETTING MORE HELP IN YOUR CLASSROOM! :-)

Mrs. Bluebird said...

Kris, thanks for your comments. It never ceases to amaze me why people think that dumping special ed kids into science and social studies classes (which have difficult content area reading to start with) without aides or any help whatsoever is a good idea. I modify like you wouldn't believe for these kids and they still struggle. The idea of yanking them out so they're even more behind is just ludicrous. Like you said, it's setting them up for failure. However, I found out recently that this is apparently standard practice, especially in elementary school. No wonder my special ed kids reach me with no background at all in science.

Anonymous said...

Special Ed doesn`t work they go in but the end up home with mom and with out a job

Leazwell said...

Difficult content reading indeed! When I taught I complained how the students who performed poorly for me (history and chemistry) were such poor readers. The English/lit. teacher would look perplexed replying they performed fine for her. Well, I knew she worked around weak areas and gave them work to stress their strengths. She disapproved of testing la, la, la,... But they couldn't understand beans about what they had read for me without having it broken into bits and spoon fed to them. At high school level that is such a bore. They really should be able to navigate texts better. Where is the breakdown other than the fact that many kids are lazy and the idea of having to read something more than once, heaven forbid several times, before it starts to make sense?