The 7-year-old special ed aide

Miss Brave is trying to teach 28 second graders in a New York City school, including Julio, who belongs in a small special ed class.  Easily frustrated, Julio responds by “pounding on his desk and punching himself in the head.”  Teaching without an aide, Miss Brave asked her most responsible student to be Julio’s “buddy” and now thinks: I’ve turned a seven-year-old girl into a “para” (teacher’s aide).  How fair is that?

* He has started singing, humming, pounding on his desk, kicking at his desk, and grabbing his desk and shaking it aggressively, all during what is supposed to be a quiet working period.

* The other day, he got upset, so he took everything out of his desk, hurled it to the floor, and then flopped himself on top of it and lay there.

I assigned him a “buddy” whose job is (a) to help him find things in his desk (because whenever I ask the class to take out a certain book or folder, he yells out, “I CAN’T FIND IT!” and starts taking everything out of his desk and throwing it to the floor) and (b) to remind him what he is supposed to be doing (because every time we’re supposed to be working independently, he yells, “I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DOOOOOO!” and starts up with the punching himself in the head and shaking his desk around). And God bless her, his buddy has taken on that role and more — whispering “Julio” and pointing to his sticker chart when he starts humming and/or singing and fidgeting, showing him what page to turn to, etc. The day that he threw everything out of his desk and then threw himself on top of the carnage, she got up without a word and began helping him return everything to his desk. That’s when I realized: Carly is his para.

Julio’s mother doesn’t want him in special education, fearing he’d “fall behind,” but he’s now on a long waiting list for a special class. Meanwhile, he gets no special services.

Doing his Hulk routine, Julio hurt himself, taking a chunk of time from the math lesson. Miss Brave wants to help Julio, but she doesn’t want to hurt her other 27 students.

Am I dooming my students to a lifetime of fearing impulsively violent classmates and being cast aside while emergencies like this one continue to build?

Julio’s mother volunteered to sit with him in class a few times a month to help  him focus, but the assistant principal rejected the offer, saying it would be “disruptive to other students.” Unlike the current situation.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. tim-10-ber says:

    I am sorry but this teacher needs to get this kid out of the classroom. Regardless of what the mother thinks this is just not right for the other kids in the class. She needs to stop having Julio help…

    Special ed kids like this do not belong in the regular classroom. Mainstreaming in this case is just wrong and stupid…geez educators why do you think of the one and put their needs over the many? It is the many who will end up supporting this kid in some way or another. They need their education…this child needs help.

  2. Welcome to the wonderful world of mayoral control.

    Does NYC inflict testing on 2nd graders? If they do then poor Miss Brave is going to be labled a bad teacher.

  3. Better get used to that mayoral control Mike, it’s the comin’ thing what with the widespread abrogation of responsibility by school boards to their hired help. Of course mayoral control is just vamping for time till it becomes obvious that a school needs an external, administrative hierarchy the way self-involved whiners need an excuse pity themselves.

  4. This sort of thing isn’t new (although I never saw anything that extreme). When I was in elementary school in the early 80s, I was that ‘buddy’. In first grade, I sat next to a kid repeating the grade due to what would now be diagnosed as ADHD. I was supposed to remind him to stay on task whenever he was staring off or fidgeting.

    In second grade, I spent part of the year beside a kid who, as far as I know, never learned to read (even in high school). I was to help him remember to copy the words when we did those kinds of exercises. Another part of the year was spent next to a girl who wasn’t trying hard – I was supposed to encourage her, I think. I also spent a bit of time organizing books in the stock room.

    I had a lot of spare time, so this wasn’t taking away from completing my work, but it was a really different experience once we started switching classes for ability grouping in the upper grades. Who knows, though, this may have been good prep for my current job, teaching at a community college.

  5. once again, tim, you give teachers too much credit. teachers are not the ones that pushed for mainstreaming special needs/ed children — parents and “everybody should feel good” policy makers did that one. they didn’t want special ed kids to feel singled out, so they should be in the same room as everyone else.

    teachers just get to deal with the fallout of everyone else’s decisions.

  6. Tim, you should check out Miss Brave’s post. She did everything but get down on her knees and beg the mother to let her son be put in a special ed class. The principal and special ed teachers also encouraged a special ed placement, but the mother has insisted on a regular classroom.

    Almost every teacher has a horror story about a child who should not have been main streamed but was put in their class over their objections. In most cases this is at parent request and is not the fault of educators.

  7. What an incompetent teacher. Sacrificing another child because the system doesn’t work? She should send the kid out of the classroom every single time that he’s disruptive.

  8. What do Carly’s parents think about their daughter being assigned to act as a special ed aide? I would expect my child to be kind towards others but it shouldn’t be her responsibility to worry about what a classmate is doing. She would be in Miss Brave’s classroom to get an education for herself.

    No wonder so many parents who have bright kids flee the government-run schools for private or home schooling…

  9. It’s not fair to the “buddy” to be burdened with this. It doesn’t matter if she’s a “high achiever” or whatever to begin with. If I were the “buddy’s” mom, I’d be raising holy hell about my daughter basically being used as unpaid labor, because the school district doesn’t have its stuff together enough to stand up to the mom who wants her son mainstreamed, even though he’s destroying the focus of the rest of the class.

    The tyranny of the few….I’ve taught classes where one or two unpleasant, unengaged, or borderline-disruptive students soured the mood for everyone else.

  10. tim-10-ber says:

    Sorry — not to point fingers at teachers as I have had the same answers from principals…but then that is why my children stopped attend government schools that did not look out for the best interest of my high performing students…

  11. Again Cal, I don’t know whether you are really clever and have a desert dry wit, or if you are just narrow minded and reduce things to their simplest components. If you are clever, then you are awesome. If you are simplistic, then you are simplistic.

  12. I’ve seen parents take entire classes hostages because they don’t want to believe that something is wrong. It can be quite horrible for everyone. I have no idea why these things aren’t streamlined by a faster process, but the same thing happened in a school near me.

    That child is going to fall behind far quicker in that classroom than in an appropriate one with a special ed teacher. I speak from experience. The main teacher will just try to tolerate and get around the kid so that she can at least teach the others. The special ed teacher will have expectations that will match what the child can handle.

    Eventually, he’ll be forced there, but not before causing a lot of problems for himself and the others. If the parents keep fighting it, it could drag out over a year, ending with a judge making the final decision. It’s very sad on all fronts.

  13. Cranberry says:

    Our public school used our daughter as an unpaid aide/tutor to other students. It uses all the bright girls with good social skills in this manner. That is one reason our daughter now attends a private school.

    There is an implicit belief in leveling behind using a classmate as a para. If the girl’s ahead of her peers, she’s more likely to be asked to take on the job of monitoring Julio. It sacrifices her for peace in the classroom. It deprives the girl of her right to focus on her own education. It is an abuse of the teacher-student relationship. She is 7. She isn’t old enough to give consent to being used in this manner. She wouldn’t understand the issues, and she will want to please the teacher. If a trained adult can’t manage a child, she has no business requiring another child to take over the job.

  14. My daughter’s 3rd grade teacher tried this, and I was in that school in a flash. She wasn’t there to a role model, trainer, hand-holder or example, and I was very cross with her teacher. And then we moved and she changed schools.

    The teacher wasn’t new, incompetent or clueless, but she misjudged the kid who needed help, and my child’s quiet manner for acquiescence.

  15. Just another day in a government school.

  16. Devilbunny says:

    It’s not as though the kids don’t know what’s going on. My elementary school had no tracking at all – not even the quiet, under-the-table “all the smart ones to Ms. So-and-so” type – and I spent the better part of seven years’ education (if you count kindergarten) in idiot hell. If I had my own personal idiot to help, at least I would have been doing something productive. As it was, the only good experience I had was an otherwise terrible teacher who kept a cart of books at the front of the room that you could read if you had finished your assignments for the day. I read a lot that year…

  17. Swede,

    Clever and simplistic are not mutually exclusive. I don’t have much patience for nonsense.

    But if you’re referring to my advice to send the kid out of class every.single.time, then that’s not simplistic. I’m fully aware that this move would be unpopular, but that’s too bad. The teacher creates a log of incidents to cover herself, and then sends the kid to the office for every incident. If the mom is going to play procedural games, then the solution is to play them right back.

  18. Oh, one other thing: It’s clear that Miss Brave is a bit stunned that some people are not poor-dearing her, but rather accusing her of being a poor teacher. She has only her own words to blame. The original post was written for drama, and now she’s bothered by being held to it.

  19. Cal,

    You’re not a teacher, are you?

  20. I’m with Cal. Sacrificing the rest of the class because of the unacceptable behavior of one (or several) kids is plain wrong. Document everything and send that kid out; passive acceptance is still acceptance. I’m not much in favor of lawyers, but it’s time to take that route. Spec ed has allowed the needs of the few to be placed above the needs of the many for too long; it’s time for a change in favor of the rights of regular and gifted kids. If my kid was (mis)used as an unpaid, involuntary aide, I would call a lawyer and the local media, as well.

  21. palisadesk says:

    We don’t know what all Miss Brave’s options were. I do know what they would be in my school, which sounds a lot like Miss Brave’s — in a large urban district, lots of schools with low-performing, high-needs students, inadequate resources, sometimes unresponsive or ineffective administrators.

    In my school, teachers are not permitted to send students out in the hall. They can only send students to the office by prior arrangement — attempts to do so are often met with refusals (no one in the office, administrators in a meeting, etc.). In most cases the student must be dealt with in class. It is not unusual for there to be *several* students as disruptive as Miss Brave’s “Julio” in a class. Sometimes these students are actually physically dangerous to others as well as disruptive. A couple of incidents I remember:

    – Sixth grader with a long history of violent outbrsts and learning issues regularly threw tantrums, refused to co-operate, and would unleash a barrage of opprobrious or scatological epithets, and start throwing furniture. At this point the teacher would evacuate the rest of the class, leaving the violent student inside until a team of burly male teachers and an admin could come deal with him. Police were involved many times. Although parent admitted she too was afraid of the child, she opposed or subtly undermined all efforts to place this student in a smaller program or an appropriate treatment center, and many people went to great lengths to find appropriate help for this boy. He was suspended repeatedly, but of course returned to continue inflicting chaos.

    The process to place a child in a program over the parent’s opposition is very time-consuming and tactics like family moving or changing schools can reset the process to square one numerous times. Also, if the district is committed to total inclusion, there are very few non-inclusive settings available. Ultimately, we figured the justice system would kick in, but I think this student could have been helped with appropriate placement early enough.

    -Scenario two: a first grader who assaults other kids (biting, kicking, hitting), screams and throws things, runs out of class and around the school (interrupting other classes). Child appears bright, but totally lacks any impulse control or sense of behavior boundaries. Treats parents the same way. They refuse to come to meetings to develop a safety plan or any interventions. Teacher is outstanding (one of the best I have ever observed) but very worn down by dealing with this student with no real backup. Other children who need the teacher’s help are being denied a fair chance at progress as she “manages” the screaming tantrum-thrower. Parents are called to pick up the student, but simply don’t answer the phone. There is nowhere to “send” the student (if administrators are not in the office, it is not the secretary’s job to deal with malefactors — and is a safety issue for HER).

    A propos of school secretaries, there was the violent student sent to the office, where the secretary was alone. The student started ripping the phones out of the wall; secretary radioed the assistant principal, who was in another office around the corner — the A.P. locked his door and didn’t come to the secretary’s aid. I think she called the police.

    The common thread I have seen, in several different urban schools, is that good administrators set up systems to deal with disruptive or dangerous students immediately and effectively, so that other students are not held hostage, and their learning is not sacrificed. I think it sends a powerful message, especially to young students, if dangerous kids are not reined in — it lets them know that adults will not protect them, and that certainly, if perhaps subtly, poisons the learning environment.

    School-level administrators are the key to effective school climate. Teachers can do a lot in their own classes, but even the best cannot effectively deal with a truly disturbed or psychotic student, and both the teacher and the student need the support of a well-organized response system for such incidents. Good administrators get these systems in place and keep them running smoothly; ineffective ones put their heads in the sand and deny all problems.

    I also think there needs to be some kind of “Bill of Rights” for the non-classified, average student who comes to school to learn. His or her right to an education should not be at the mercy of other students with exceptional learning needs or medical or psychiatric problems. In these situations, the needs of the exceptional students are ALSO being ignored. Their behavior is often a clear signal that the inclusive setting is not working for them.

  22. Miss Brave is doing the best she can under very difficult circumstances. She has probably been threatened with unpleasantness, including disciplinary action for *herself*, if she sends the child out of the class. Some post-ers here are not considering a few things:

    –If she “sends the child out,” there is no guarantee that he will actually go to the office;

    –If he goes to the office, there is no guarantee that someone will deal with him swiftly, effectively, and appropriately;

    –If he goes to the office, there is a very good chance that someone will send him right back;

    –If she sends the child out and he does not go to the office, but rather goes somewhere else and injures himself, another child, or disrupts someone else’s teaching, SHE will be held responsible.

    It is NOT Miss Brave’s fault that well-meaning teachers have no choice but to deal with chronically disruptive students creatively within the classroom. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. If this were really unacceptable, administration would deal with it like it was unacceptable. Instead, workarounds such as the one Miss Brave has devised are implictly allowed and sometimes explicitly encouraged by admins who are glad they don’t have to deal with it.

  23. Cranberry says:

    As I understand it, full inclusion does not mean, students with serious psychiatric conditions mixed into the classroom without support. At a minimum, there should be a way for the student to leave the classroom when conditions are overwhelming for him, or he is disrupting instruction. A child throwing repeated violent tantrums is a danger to himself and everyone else in that classroom. The teacher’s job is to teach, not to replace a pediatric psychological social worker.

    The larger problem may be the fact that one set of parents in denial have the power to prolong an impossible classroom situation. It comes back to the administrators, who should be taking steps to improve classroom conditions.

  24. Cardinal Fang says:

    The classroom can’t function unless Julio’s behavior is somehow reined in. Miss Brave is doing the best she can in a difficult situation.

    Some commenters, however, seem disturbingly willing to sacrifice Julio for the betterment of the other students. It will certainly be better for the rest of the class if Julio isn’t in it, but twelve Julios in one special ed class with just one teacher and one aide also sounds like a catastrophe; Julio would learn nothing. Julio’s mother is right; Julio really is better off in Miss Brave’s class.

    A better solution for Julio and the rest of the class would be a personal aide for Julio, or more staffing in the special ed class he’d be sent to.

  25. ^Agreed, as well as a very well-written BIP (Behavior Intervention Plan) for Julio that is scrupulously followed by teacher, aide, and administration if Julio stays in an inclusion setting.

  26. I disagree with CF that a self-contained classroom would necessarily be worse for Julio. A good special ed classroom, even if there is the issue of several children with poor self-control, offers two things that a generic classroom does not: the ability to carry out a therapeutic Behavioral Intervention Plan (that would be difficult if not impossible to execute in a generic classroom), and the ability to modify the child’s insructional program to the point where it doesn’t send him into tantrums simply because he doesn’t understand what’s being asked of him or can’t conform his behavior to meet expectations.

  27. Some commenters, however, seem disturbingly willing to sacrifice Julio for the betterment of the other students.

    Uh, yeah, if by “sacrificing” Julio, you mean refuse to endanger your students. Julio’s in the wrong place. The other students are in the right place. So the students who are appropriately placed should be “prioritized”, that is, treated in the way that teachers are committed to treat their students–not treat them like TAs, etc.

    It will certainly be better for the rest of the class if Julio isn’t in it, but twelve Julios in one special ed class with just one teacher and one aide also sounds like a catastrophe; Julio would learn nothing. Julio’s mother is right; Julio really is better off in Miss Brave’s class.

    Julio’s mom doesn’t get to make that call when everyone else in Miss Brave’s class is worse off for his presence.

    I am sympathetic to what Palisadesk is saying, but again, Miss Brave has made no mention of these restrictions. She’s much more worried about Julio’s well being than the class’s. Also, I’m pretty sure that a dedicated teacher following protocol to the letter could make either admin’s or the mother’s job very difficult. She says she could call for him to be removed from school for the day. So every single incident is worthy of a call; she should make the call every day.

    And duh, of course you don’t send second graders to the office by themselves. I’m sure there’s a procedure for it.

  28. Hi everyone, I’m miss brave. Imagine my surprise to find a whole other website discussing my incompetence! Just for clarification: Carly, Julio’s “buddy,” is a lovely, responsible, very EAGER student. However, so many commenters were offended by my decision to buddy them up that I did reconsider. Carly, Julio and I had a talk about how Carly’s primary responsibility is to her own schoolwork, and I have since moved Julio to a new seat on the other side of the room.

    I am also a new, untenured teacher in a school where disciplinary issues are frequently swept under the rug by administrators. On the one hand, I might become a pioneer at my school who calls for student removal. On the other hand, I might be targeted by my administration as a troublemaker. Thank you to the commenter above who detailed the laundry list of problem students at her school. You are right, our schools do sound similar, and I can guarantee you that if I sent Julio out of the room every time he was disruptive, as Cal suggested, my AP would send him right back. (I know this because I faced an identical situation at the.beginning of the school year, and that’s exactly what happened.)

    And Cal — I am not surprised that no one is “poor dearing” me. You’re entitled to your opinion of my competence.

  29. Sure, there are procedures. Like:

    –Send the kid with another kid (thus inconveniencing and possibly endangering the other kid)

    –Try to find a teacher on a prep (and take precious time away from teaching and monitoring the rest of the class)

    –Call security (which not all schools have)

    –Call the office and ask someone to get him (and have whoever answers the phone tell you it’s not their problem)

    There are things that can be done in this situation. Almost none of them are within Miss Brave’s control on a day-to-day basis, and none of them ought to be her responsibility. I hate to go for this tack, but in this case, you are in absolutely no position to criticize.

    Unless you HAVE tried to teach 28 second graders with one seriously disturbed student in their midst, in which case, please enlighten us as to how you handled it.

  30. Miss Brave’s story keeps changing, but over at her blog, she said that she is now calling for him to be removed every day. I don’t think she remembers what she writes from day to day, though, because her comment here doesn’t even mention this highly relevant fact.

  31. Ah, Cranberry, but that IS what full inclusion means. Imagine that 2nd grader as a full grown 17-year-old. Yep. Fun times. None of mine have actually murdered a classmate *inside* the building.

  32. Richard Aubrey says:

    My son, a serious but large six-year-old, was asked by a classmate’s mother if he would hang with her son, who was being bullied. In the first grade.
    I suppose you could call my son a mercenary if he’d been paid, but this was pro bono.
    I have no idea if the administration had been alerted to the problem–forgot to ask–but my guess is that they’d have thought this was the perfect solution. Their fingerprints were not on any perp’s noses. Cool.
    When the mother called one fine Saturday, I asked my son who was nearby.
    “I can handle it.” he said.
    Is it really a good idea to ask a first-grader to be a gratis body guard? Yeah, if you’re a public skrewl ‘crat.

  33. Miss Brave,

    Don’t worry about what commentators like Cal think. He is not a teacher and does not know what goes on in schools and classrooms. He (and his ilk) believe that they can judge teachers and their efficacy because they went to school in the past and their children/grandchildren have gone to school. Based on this past experience alone, they think that they can be judgmental and haughty and dismissive of what we do every day. Ignore him.

  34. Cranberry says:
  35. Pinetree says:

    Thanks for posting, Miss Brave. I want to reassure you that no one who has taught in a system like the one you’re teaching in believes that it’s easy to get a student like Julio into a better placement for him (and his current classmates, and you). I do think the UFT should prioritize this issue, much more than it has. As someone above has said, the best administrators have procedures to manage emergencies like Julio’s disruptions, but run of the mill and poor administrators do not, out of inertia . Hence, the need for a countervailing force that gathers the influence of many.

    One other point (which you’ll come to realize as you gain more experience, though you sound like a good teacher already): students like Carly can be convinced to take on more than they should. They may even sort of enjoy it for a while. Many are “teacher-pleasers.” But the helpfulness and responsbility that she was willing to provide, while appropriate in reasonable amounts, can’t be the foundation for handling students like Julio. Bottom line, you can’t make his education more important than hers.

  36. Excuse me, Cal. I never said that I am “now calling for him to be removed every day.” The exact words in my comment at my blog are, “So SINCE MY ORIGINAL POST (notice the emphasis), I am exercising the student removal option.” I have called for Julio to be removed once, when the situation warranted removal. (I know you think that I “can’t teach a math class without him going beserk,” but believe it or not, as I’ve said before, I don’t post about every single thing that happens in my classroom, and Julio is not always bouncing off the walls.) We’re on spring break now, but I intend to keep doing so when we return.

    You’re perfectly within your rights to question my decisions, my competence, etc., but please don’t call me a liar. Believe me, I’m not backtracking to try to make my story sound better. I’m the first one to admit that I’ve made mistakes as a teacher and that I’m attempting to correct them. I don’t know how long you’ve been teaching, but this is my first year in the classroom, and no one sat me down and explained to me the rules and regulations of student removal, IEPs, the special ed process, etc. I had to seek out all that information from my union rep, my AP, my guidance counselor, my sped coordinator, etc. If you really wanted to help me help my class, you wouldn’t take on a tone of such disgust when speaking to me. Instead you’ve just written me off as incompetent and sarcastically attacked everything I’ve said.

    Do I feel the need to defend myself? Of course I do. But can I admit that I haven’t taken the most effective path to resolving this situation? Yes. Because, like it or not, I DO have that fear in the back of my mind that if I raise hell and demand something be done about the situation, my administration will in turn make life miserable for me. Now, I realize I need to get over that and do what the situation calls for, but it’s not always easy.

  37. Ms. Brave…it was not always clear from your posts that you are such a new teacher and didn’t have tenure. That doesn’t sound like a compliment, but it is trying to be one.

    I think part of the backlash you are receiving is the compounded frustration of parents who have:
    1. dealt with a Julio character in their kids’ classroom; and/or
    2. had a bright kid who was used as para, T.A., ignored, or otherwise mistreated;and/or
    3. dealt with administrators w;orho have no intention of doing anything so that the well behaved kids could have a safe enviroment;and/or
    4. and BEEN the kid who was used in such ways.

    and have not seen the situation resolved in any manner that could be construed as constructive. Your situation does not seems to be getting resolved either.

    Many people have been young and inexperienced, and have some sympathy for those who are young and inexperienced.

    But, there are a number of practices/beliefs you posted that make me cringe.

    Bright kids do NOT necessarily want to help their classmates. My kids recently had a dinner table conversation where they discussed how much they HATED working in groups and having to help other classmates. The older one informed the younger one that if you give the classmate wrong answers eventually, you don’t have to help anymore.

    Kids, are, KIDS, they can easily be convinced that their job is to help the other students, not to learn themselves. All students, even the smart ones deserve a chance to learn in school. They aren’t learning unless they have access to material they don’t already know and time to learn it. They get neither if they are helping another student.

    Nobody learns anything productive after another kids throws a desk in the classroom.

  38. I am sympathetic to all the posters who said that they or their children detested working in pairs or groups in elementary school. Interestingly, I was one of those kids too. As Carly’s teacher, I can assure you that Carly did not act as Julio’s buddy just to please me or because I asked her to; in fact, one of the reasons I reached out to her in the first place is because I noticed that she was independently reaching out to Julio. I have plenty of other bright, responsible students in my class who never showed any inclination to help him out, which is why they didn’t become his buddies. But, as I stated above, Julio and Carly no longer sit near each other and interact much less than they used to.

    While I don’t doubt that many of the commenters on this blog have faced similar experiences that qualify them to comment on the issues we’re facing, that’s still no substitute for being a real live teacher in my particular school. In the three years I’ve been a teacher there, I’ve seen third graders give the middle finger while saying “F you” to their teachers; I’ve seen a fourth grader literally run out of his classroom and run holy hell up and down the halls; I’ve seen the police and emergency services be called to retrieve elementary school students who were, frankly, out of control. And I’m talking about general ed students in general ed classes with no paras. I dealt with a student similar to Julio at the beginning of the year (he’s since moved on to a special ed inclusion class at another school), and when I sent him upstairs to my assistant principal’s office, he sauntered back five minutes later bragging about how she had threatened to suspend him and how he couldn’t wait to be suspended. Why? Because when you get suspended at my school, you get to sit in a nice little office by yourself all day while other teacher rotate in and out to babysit you. You get all the attention you ever wanted from adults, with no pesky other students around to bother you. It’s everything they’ve ever wanted!

    In all that time, every single one of those students has been returned to the same classroom time and time again with minimal consequences for the offenders and zero assistance provided to their teachers or fellow students, while meanwhile my administration looked upon those teachers as being unable to control their students and going so far as to threaten to deny tenure to teachers who dared to raise a fuss. So to the people to be ordering me to call to have the student removed as if that’s going to solve the ultimate problem, I respectfully say: It’s not that easy.

  39. As Carly’s teacher, I can assure you that Carly did not act as Julio’s buddy just to please me or because I asked her to

    How can you be sure? Having been a “teacher’s pet” growing up, I hid a lot of resentment below a smile because I wanted to please my teachers and my parents. I liked the praise and attention so I put up with a lot of stuff that inwardly made me seethe. But “good girls” don’t express anger. “Good girls” are always cheerful and obedient to those who have authority over them…

  40. How can you be sure? Having been a “teacher’s pet” growing up, I hid a lot of resentment below a smile because I wanted to please my teachers and my parents. I liked the praise and attention so I put up with a lot of stuff that inwardly made me seethe.

    Which is why, as I’ve now explained multiple times, I changed Julio’s seat and encouraged Carly to focus more of her energy and attention on her own work.

  41. Thanks for coming back to explain. I still don’t get why Julio doesn’t have an IEP. Is his mother not understanding the process? Does she need a social worker?

  42. If you read the posts at Miss Brave’s website, you’ll see that she did listen to the concerns about Carly and Julio and moved the kids apart.

  43. Roger Sweeny says:

    miss brave,

    I don’t know what the employment situation is where you live but … it sounds like your administrators aren’t doing right by their teachers or their students. Maybe you should be looking for a place where they do.

  44. If you read the posts at Miss Brave’s website, you’ll see that she did listen to the concerns about Carly and Julio and moved the kids apart.

    Yes, I did see that but based on her subsequent comment I still think she may be assuming things that may not be true. The Carlys of the world often get taken advantage of by teachers and Miss Brave needs to know how unfair that is…

  45. Cardinal Fang says:

    Thanks for showing up here, Miss Brave. I continue to admire your dedication.

    And I also continue to wonder what happens to the Julios of this world when they get stuck in special ed classrooms. How does that work? One teacher, one aide, twelve difficult children. What happens to the quiet, no trouble little girls in Julio’s special ed class? I get the feeling they’d be pretty much ignored.

  46. Cranberry says:

    I don’t know how long you’ve been teaching, but this is my first year in the classroom, and no one sat me down and explained to me the rules and regulations of student removal, IEPs, the special ed process, etc. I had to seek out all that information from my union rep, my AP, my guidance counselor, my sped coordinator, etc.

    These rules and regulations would seem to lie at the heart of the knowledge a modern teacher should possess. The ed school classroom would be the most efficient place to share that knowledge. What’s the point of ed school if it doesn’t teach future teachers how to advocate for their pupils? Further, if each teacher must figure out the system by themselves, there’s a great chance that many teachers are carrying around mistaken models of “how the system works.”

    That’s a shame, because a regular classroom is not set up to educate the severely challenged. When a student freaks out, at a minimum, no one is paying attention to academic matters. I have read that city classrooms are more likely to have novice teachers. If novice teachers don’t yet know how to get a child services, that would help to explain part of the achievement gap.

    Lightly Seasoned, it may be the common implementation of “full inclusion,” but it isn’t a faithful implementation. As much as many parents fear “special schools,” the schools charge their high tuitions for a reason. If one plans to replace the special schools with placement in a regular classroom, it can’t be just plunking the kid into a classroom with one teacher.

    Our district practices inclusion far above the state average. It is expensive, because you do need psychologists and aides on staff to make it work. If you wish to educate all children, you must be able to remove a student from the classroom during a temper tantrum. You must be able to allow a student time and space to decompress. You must be willing to place that student in another classroom or school when inclusion isn’t working for that child. Refusing to help a teacher manage a child who is known to be difficult doesn’t help.

  47. Pinetree says:

    Cardinal Fang, Julio is not learning now. Also, you are assuming that in a special ed classroom all of the other children will be out of control (except for the quiet little girl, who in reality if she’s quiet is not going to be in a BD classroom). But the point of the special ed classroom is that there is a child/adult ratio of 6:1 instead of 25:1; there are additional adult resources (social worker, psychologist), there are tailor-made curricula, and there is a chance that Julio’s underlying challenges will be addressed, none of which is happening in Miss Brave’s classroom.

  48. palisadesk says:

    “If one plans to replace the special schools with placement in a regular classroom, it can’t be just plunking the kid into a classroom with one teacher.”

    That’s almost *always* what happens in my district. Classroom aides are almost nonexistent. We’re lucky to have a visit from a psychologist or social worker once a month — if that — and they usually just show up for IEP meetings, never to work with individual needy students. Teachers are on their own. They may have several high-needs kids in a class — some with classifications like autism, developmental disability, behavior disorder, cognitive impairment, LD — and also students who clearly have special needs but who are *not* classified.

    Our superintendent admitted that the full inclusion model was brought in to save money.

    In my school teachers may not send kids to the office or out of class. The exception would be assault with a weapon. When that happens, teachers must send student to the office. While “assault” is not uncommon, assault with a *weapon* is rare in the primary grades.

    If Miss Brave were in my school, she would not be any better off, except for one thing (possibly). The staff have learned that the administrators are basically useless, so we try to help each other as much as possible.

  49. Crimson Wife..

    “Yes, I did see that but based on her subsequent comment I still think she may be assuming things that may not be true. The Carlys of the world often get taken advantage of by teachers and Miss Brave needs to know how unfair that is…”

    I agree with you. I have a Carly in my family, but I think Miss Brave is starting to understand why the Carlys need to be protected. Miss Brave listened to those of us who tried to explain why it is wrong to have Carly act as a para or T.A.

    Most often, teachers try to tell us that it is good for our kids to be used that way. When a teacher starts to realize that even bright kids deserve to learn, we should support that.

  50. Cardinal Fang says:

    “Also, you are assuming that in a special ed classroom all of the other children will be out of control (except for the quiet little girl, who in reality if she’s quiet is not going to be in a BD classroom).”

    I don’t know what a BD classroom is, but what are you saying here? Either quiet little kids *are* in a special ed classroom with many Julios (and would get little attention) or the special ed classroom has only difficult disruptive students, in which case there are twelve Julios and only two adults, which sounds like a catastrophe, though in my view many special ed teachers are saints.

    I suspect the former. Surely there are a lot of reasons someone might be placed in a special ed classroom: autism, Downs, severe learning disabilities. Some of those children in special ed must be quiet.

    And we don’t get to assume that Julio would be sent to a good special ed class. We have to assume he’d be sent to an average special ed class; that’s what average means.

  51. Pinetree says:

    In my district (and many others), a BD classroom is a Behavior Disorder classroom. it is a specialty classroom for children whose disability revolves around self control, impulsiveness, physical acting out, etc. It would be very unusual to find a child with autism or Down syndrome in that sort of classroom. Most children with developmental delays would not be in that classroom. The classroom routine, and the teachers’ training, would be oriented toward helping the children gain control of their behavior so they can learn.

    I’m not saying that all special ed classrooms are wonderful, Fang. I’m just saying that they can, if run correctly, offer specialized help, of a therapeutic nature, that a regular classroom never can.

  52. Cardinal Fang says:

    As I said, I hadn’t heard of BD, but now that I have, I checked it out with Google. I found mention of students with non-hyperactive ADHD in Behavior Disorder classroom, which I guess makes sense because staring out the window looking at clouds instead of paying attention to the teacher is a behavior disorder. But I suspect such students wouldn’t get much of the teacher’s attention.

    I also found mention of classrooms containing only students whose behaviors involved acting out and disruption, but that had six students with a teacher and an aide, rather than twelve students.

    Teachers, if any are still reading, at your school how many kids are in a special ed classroom, and what range of diagnoses/behaviors do they have?

  53. Some school systems (guessing most likely the larger ones) still have stand-alone spec ed schools, in addition to resources in individual schools. I lived in a county-wide system that had such resources. One of the schools was primarily for behavioral/emotional problems and the other was primarily for cognitive problems. The two families I knew who had kids in the latter category could have sent the kids to their local school but chose not to. Their comments were that their kids (1 high-functioning Down’s, one not) would never be able to interact with other kids on an equal level, would never be able to handle abstractions and other high-level cognitive functions and would therefore not be able to handle a regular academic curriculum at the HS level. The regular academic program would not meet their needs either, since they needed intensive prep, largely in the life-skills category, to maximize their reading, writing and ability to function in society and hold a job.

  54. Addendum: I think that most of the LD problems were handled at the local school level, but am not sure. At the time my kids were there, they were in relatively homogeneous/gifted ES-MS classes and honors/AP in HS and these classes did not (then) have kids with significant behavioral, cognitive, ASD problems. Thank heaven.

  55. Addendum: I think that most of the LD problems were handled at the local school level, but am not sure. At the time my kids were there, they were in relatively homogeneous/gifted ES-MS classes and honors/AP in HS and these classes did not (then) have kids with significant behavioral, cognitive, ASD problems. Thank heaven.

    To clarify the above: one kid with Down’s, one kid with cognitive problems but not Down’s. I should pay better attention.

  56. SuperSub says:

    Cardinal Fang -
    Our school district (blue collar, low income suburban) has most SpEd students mainstreamed… luckily we have a decent amount of aides and teachers to support them. We also have two other ‘special’ classes at our middle school. One is for the diagnosed SpEd students who are too behaviorally difficult to place in a mainstream classroom. The other is for non-diagnosed BD students who cannot function in a normal classroom.
    The model largely continues through the first two years of high school, except the non-SpEd BD students are put together with other non-identified low functioning students. That group is serviced by a team of core teachers with additional support from a SpEd teacher and TA. Once the non-identified students reach 11th grade, though, they are expected to be able to attend normal classes.

  57. The ed school classroom would be the most efficient place to share that knowledge. What’s the point of ed school if it doesn’t teach future teachers how to advocate for their pupils?

    Like Miss Brave, I’m a first year teacher, and I can assure you that we spent an entire course going through this stuff ad nauseum. We even had to do a case study on a special ed student, in which we described which kind of plan he had, and how we advocated for that student.

    So when Miss Brave says: no one sat me down and explained to me the rules and regulations of student removal, IEPs, the special ed process, etc. I had to seek out all that information from my union rep, my AP, my guidance counselor, my sped coordinator, etc.

    I can only assume that she either wasn’t credentialed the standard way, wasn’t paying attention, or has a state that doesn’t require a special ed course for credentialing.

    But you know, there’s this thing called Google. As far as I was concerned, the sped course was a waste of time (as indeed were most of my courses) because I knew most of it anyway.

  58. And I also continue to wonder what happens to the Julios of this world when they get stuck in special ed classrooms.

    At our school, at least, there’s a wide range of special ed classes, from the kids who’ll get a “certificate” to the kids who are in normal classes but qualify for resource help.

    But Cardinal, your whole take on things is very damaging. First, it damages the larger population of kids, who suffer because you’re determined to screw up their education for your own little pity party. Second, it damages the kids you profess to care about (far more than the rest), by putting them constantly into rotten situations where they are feared and/or despised.

  59. So when Miss Brave says: no one sat me down and explained to me the rules and regulations of student removal, IEPs, the special ed process, etc. I had to seek out all that information from my union rep, my AP, my guidance counselor, my sped coordinator, etc.

    I can only assume that she either wasn’t credentialed the standard way, wasn’t paying attention, or has a state that doesn’t require a special ed course for credentialing.

    I was credentialed through an undergraduate teacher preparation program at a well-regarded university in Massachusetts. I was paying attention. I was never required to take a course in special education (possibly because I wasn’t trying to obtain a special education license).

    For the commenter who asked why Julio doesn’t have an IEP: There’s a catch-22 of enormous proportions going on right now, which is that Julio is on a long waiting list for a self-contained, 12:1:1 special education classroom, which is the placement that was suggested by his IEP. Because he is not yet IN a self-contained classroom, however, he’s not currently receiving any services.

  60. Miss Brave, If Julio has an IEP, the school can’t just decide not to follow it because the IEP is inconvenient. If Julio’s mom contacts the State Dept of Education, they will likely have a department of very nice folks who can advise her on how to make the school follow the IEP.

    wrightslaw.com is also a VERY good source for info on IDEA and getting schools to comply with an IEP.

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