I'm baaaaaaack.

Hoarding All the Glitter Since 2001.

05 March 2011

At long last, with uncertain trust

Someone in my old school district told me one time that the reason we had a lot of mainstreaming and inclusion practices was that we couldn't afford anything else.  Whether that's true or not, we did have a lot of inclusion practices and they were relatively well-designed.

So coming to SFUSD was a bit of a shock, and not a welcome one.  Now that the district is moving away from its segregated LREs, though...well, I have seen enough of zones and strategic plans and whatnot to be more than a little nervous about what this will look like in practice.

For instance: other than Guided Reading, we're still going very slooooowly toward RtI.  This is unfortunate, because I think we could designate far fewer children, period, if we had more training and more materials for making small, enormously effective adjustments in the mainstream classroom.  Especially the early primary classroom.  I still hate to get involved in the child-labeling process, but it is presently the only way to get a child who needs services services.

My experience of asking for assistance - you know, like requesting a specialist observe your classroom and then give you feedback on strategies to assist children with whom you are struggling - has been really negative.  Either you're turned down flat because the child is not designated or they turn you down while hinting laboriously that you suck because otherwise you wouldn't be having any problems teaching everyone everyday always.  I have been lucky to meet specialists who are willing to "volunteer" or otherwise sneak into my classroom to help, but that's what they're doing: sneaking.

So this is the way I think SFUSD should go, but man is it hard to believe the transition will be anything but horrendous.  For instance, SFUSD will know what schools can anticipate K inclusion students pretty soon.

In my old district, rising K inclusion students were identified.  A school with personnel who would be open to serving that child was contacted, and its principal would follow up with the K teacher who he or she felt would be best suited to that child's needs.  When this was me, I would start attending IEP meetings at the preschool site.  The child and his or her parents would visit the Kindergarten at least once, and before summer vacation, there would be a plan in place with specific modifications to ease that child's transitions.  I was able to request and receive observations from specialists serving this child to make recommendations.  And I knew which first grade that child would enter with a couple of months' advance so that teacher could attend meetings, meet the family and plan.

I'm sure that there were horrible experiences for families in this process, but in my experience it went well - and it was totally guided by preparation and development.

It is my hope SFUSD will do something similar; it is my fear that they won't.

1 comment:

bopper pye said...

Hi. Good preschool special educators will contact the child's elementary school once the child is assigned. At my preschool we at least offer a transition meeting to the family and kindergarten inclusion school. We also offer to speak on the phone with staff at the new school, and there is a pretty thorough transition form with strengths, weaknesses, and suggested modifications and accommodations. I agree, the move towards inclusive practices is good in theory but a little scary knowing sfusd's history. If I were at a school new to inclusion I would be asking loudly who will be the go to person for the kids in inclusion next year, and who will be providing necessary support in the classroom. The child's IEP should have specific times written in that the child will need extra adult support, such as "during recess to facilitate social interaction" or "during small group activities involving language skills and turn-taking". I worry that kids who end up at school's with less established inclusion programs (and these kids will be kids whose parents are less educated about how the system has worked in the past and how it is changing) will not get what they need because there will be inadequate professional development and teacher support.