Thursday, October 19, 2006

Aide? What Aide?

Yesterday about eight of us were out of the building to attend a workshop downtown on inclusion. Inclusion, for those of you who aren't in the field of educating the future, is basically dealing with special education kids in a regular education classroom. Those of us who went, including Mrs. Eagle and Mrs. Cool, were all science and social studies teachers. We're the teachers who have, historically, had these kids dumped (my phrase, but that's my opinion) into our classrooms with little or no support. The traditional "inclusion classroom" (reading, math, language arts) usually has a special education teacher or an aide in there to assist those students who need a little more help.

We've never had an aide grace our doorway. Not once.

(For more on this subject see Welcome to Our World)

I was kind of interested in seeing what, exactly, they were going to talk to us about. After all, most of us have been modifying and working with these kids for a while, and many of us have done a pretty good job of working with our special education department on creating IEP's, modified work, modified tests, etc. And amazingly enough, in our building, we're doing something right because these kids are hitting their goals and showing growth.

Apparently the focus on the day was on how to work with your aide and things your aide can do to help you help these children.

What freaking aide?

Apparently, with the new Title I money we're getting this year (nothing like hitting that 50% free and reduced lunch mark), they're going to be able to hire three aides, one per grade level.

So Mrs. Eagle and I do the math. We get one aide for the entire seventh grade. I teach 5 classes of science, Mrs. Eagle teaches five classes of science, and Mrs. Robin teaches two. That's twelve science classes. Double that and you get the number of science and social studies classes. That's 24 classes.

Assuming that this aide is going to work just with these kids in science and social studies, she's going to have be hitting twenty-four classes a day - physically impossible. So, what it comes down to, is we may have her for one period a week.

Big Freaking Deal.

I'd get more coverage if I simply asked the PTO to toss some parent volunteers my way.

The other fun moment of the day was watching our district science consulting teacher, Mrs. Standard, who is consumed by standards, choke her way through a claim that we need to figure out what the "essential" standards were and focus on having these kids do well on these. In other words, what do these special needs kids need to survive life. Considering that Mrs. Standard considers every single one of our standards to be the most important thing in the world, it was amazing watching her spit that out. I had heard from Mrs. Squirrel that it had taken an incredible amount of convincing to sway Mrs. Standards to that opinion. I'm not sure she's buying it however, and is just going along with the flow for the moment.


And the kids didn't drive the sub screaming from the building.


skyangel said...

Boy, am I familiar with inclusion. I can feel your pain.

When I was student-teaching, we had 5 special needs kids in a class of 30 fourth-graders. The teacher I worked with was a 6'5, former New York Policeman. He also happened to have an autistic son, which was why the admin decided to "dump" these kids on him. He has experience, right? One of the kids was bipolar, another had abandonment was an interesting student teaching experience, that's for sure,

And we also had no aide.

Now, as a parent of an autistic son myself, my son is in a self-contained classroom at a regular pre-K school, with an aide. I know that he couldn't function in a mainstreamed classroom at this point, and I wouldn't want him in there and not be able to learn.

But he's doing really well in school and loves it. He's also grown a lot since August.


Mrs. T said...

We have a Mrs. Standard- and that will be the focus of our inservice on Oct. 30. We are to discuss not only "standards", but also "benchmarks". This, in spite of the fact that no one has been able to adequately define either for me.
And don't you love the "how to work with your aide" spiel? Like that ever happens. Budget crunch? Fire the aides. It's always like that.
I hope you at least got to go out to lunch.

Mrs. Bluebird said...

I've never worked in any building that had aides. Never. And I've taught both here, in My Beloved South, and Up North as well.


And yes, we did get to go to lunch. Downtown even. We hit a local brew pub that's known for excellent food. Too bad we couldn't sample the brews. Regardless, it was delightful.

Ms M. said...

Our school has one CTT class that gets a special education teacher to follow them from class to class. (Our kids stay together all day in a group, but they move from classroom to classroom for different subjects)

As for the rest of the 7th grade, well, it's just hit and miss whether or not you have a lot of IEPs or not. My homeroom has only 3 kids that need modifications but I have one class where there are, take a seat here, 3 kids for whom this is their first year in a mainstream class, 2 students with an ED classification, 9 students with IEPs, and one young lady who just moved here over the summer and can't yet communicate in English. There are 33 kids in that class, with just me. It's been an interesting few months, but so far we mostly seem to be managing...