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Fear & Loathing in Special Education

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More, RON!

Posted 12-09-2011 at 07:34 PM by Speced9

Back in the day, even before the R-Word was used, people with mental disabilities were labeled with terrible names like "imbecile", "cretin" and "idiot". Now while I absolutely agree with the notion that people with mental disabilities should be treated with love and respect, I'm not so sure that some of those terms don't perfectly describe THE POWERS THAT BE in my special education department.

Case in point:

We've been using SRA Reading Mastery for quite a few years in our self-contained classes. It's worked fantastically. A couple of years ago, we also began using the program as an intervention with our resource teachers. So far, so good, right?

This year, the entire district began using SRA Imagine It! for phonics instruction. I like this program a lot because it expands on the Reading Mastery aspects that made it so successful. There's one problem though. Things are done a little differently.

The three main ways they differ are in terms of scope and sequence, terminology and methods used in decoding words. These differences are evident enough to throw a wrench into the works. In other words, I, as a resource teacher, find it kind of hard to use SRA Reading Mastery as an intervention for students using SRA Imagine It! in their classrooms. After all, why would I pull a child out of class to teach him/her a different way to decode, using different language and in a different sequence than what the classroom teacher is doing? Makes sense, right?

So, I bring this up to THE POWERS THAT BE.

I say, "Hey, shouldn't we be modifying SRA Reading Mastery instruction to match SRA Imagine It! instruction in the classrooms? Shouldn't we be teaching letter sounds in the same order as they are in the classroom? Shouldn't we be using the same direct instruction techniques to show students how to decode unknown words? Well....shouldn't we?"

My response came today via email. THE POWERS THAT BE reply, "No, you should continue using Reading Mastery in its original state."

My thought:

THE POWERS THAT BE are telling me to pull Little Johnny from his classroom and teach him long e, while his classroom teacher is focusing on /s/, /d/ and /p/. While his teacher is teaching him to "blend", I should teach him to "say the sounds without stopping between them". Yeah, that makes a hell of a lot of sense. Excuse me for asking such a dumb question.

You know, sometimes you just have to laugh off the antics of the brain-dead, overly-defensive, special education administrator and take matters into your own hands.

(Translation: If you think I'm going to follow your bonehead directive, you've got another thing coming.)

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