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twin2 twin2 is offline
 
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Upset about treatment of Special Ed student
Old 09-19-2019, 04:15 PM
 
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I am new to the school and just met the library teacher today. My student has had a number of substitute Paras since school started the day after Labor Day until Monday when I started. He is non-verbal, maybe 7 or 8 years old. Because of the inconsistencies in staff working with him, certain routines just aren't there yet. He is non-aggressive (always) and very cooperative (when his needs are met).

My student had a bathroom mishap today that became very intense because of his sensitivities and the fact that I forgot my walkie in the classroom. We were supposed to be going to media when he decided to go to the restroom. We have scheduled breaks but it was just time so he went. We made it to class late. The teacher was checking in library books and the students were working in table groups to complete a worksheet. We walked up to the counter. I greeted her, held up the book and told her my student brought back his book, and asked what was the procedure. She directed her very loud, harsh comment to my student, "You are twenty minutes late. You need to work on getting here on time". I told her nicely "There was a mishap that was not his fault". Without missing a beat she led us to a seat and he sat down, but seemed agitated. I later learned that was his table but not his assigned seat, so with this woman, he might have been afraid of her wrath. I reached for a fidget hoping to avoid a meltdown, but she pushed the bag closed and told him he needs to do his work, not play with toys. I didn't want to call her out in front of her students, so I did not challenge her. I had intended for him to do his work while using the fidget as we have done in class some this week. She shoved an unmodified worksheet in front of him and walked away. I saw that we couldn't do the worksheet without an additional resource. She said it was group work he needed to join the group. He is non-verbal and we don't have an effective communication system in the works yet. I glared at her so she gave me posters that each table group used. She intended for the students to put a check mark in the column that met the criteria, but my student wasn't satisfied with his check mark and was starting to get agitated again, so I told him he could write yes, which of course was unacceptable in her eyes. Next came the group discussion. I was so angry at how she treated him that the tears were impossible to hold back. I knew I could have taken him to the sensory room at any point, but I knew he wanted to get a new library book and I didn't want to take that from him. Next there was a graded assignment, again an unmodified worksheet. It was a very wordy multiple choice worksheet with a confusing diagram with the last question. I tried, but couldn't get my student to respond, so I turned the paper over and modified two of the four questions with limited wording and pictures. He simply circled the answers, correctly as a matter of fact. Then I told her what I did and she said all I had to do was eliminate one of the choices for each question . I told her to do whatever she has to do but that is what I had for her. She then asked "How am I supposed to know his work is on the back", to which I replied, "because I noted that on the front". We left with the class. Our Special Ed teacher met us in the classroom and I told her we needed to talk after school about this teacher. She asked me if she was mean, that they've all seen it before. Nothing I told her surprised her. She said she needs to report this because it isn't the first time.

I normally get along with co-workers. I normally do not get upset with co-workers, even when others become enraged. I respect other teachers' authority in their classroom. I understand people teach differently. I understand she isn't a Special Ed teacher. I do feel her behavior is unacceptable though. Besides the attitude, it is her place to modify assignments, not mine. Our Special Ed teacher agrees. I want so badly to discuss this with her in the morning, but I don't think she'd want to hear anything from me. I want to go to admin, but it's my fourth day in the building. That might not go so well. I want to believe this Special Ed teacher will report her, or at least talk to her about this. We have a long road to helping this child and this library teacher has to be part of it whether she likes it or not. Sorry I have fought back every urge to have a confrontation with this woman and have not ranted to any of my friends about it. I haven't even mentioned it to family, other than my husband. Something is going to change or it will be a very long school year for her if I have to see to that myself. I will not allow her to talk to him like that anymore.



Last edited by twin2; 09-19-2019 at 05:00 PM..
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Old 09-19-2019, 05:10 PM
 
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I think your librarian needs some PD on how to deal with special needs students. Obviously she knows you are the special ed teacher so,it would follow she would work a bit differently with your students.

I think you have every right to go talk to her, not in an accusing manner,,but with information for her.

Last edited by Keltikmom; 09-20-2019 at 08:41 AM.. Reason: Need to fix the word “not”
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Old 09-19-2019, 06:04 PM
 
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Yes, definitely not in an accusing manner. She needs to understand why this child brings "toys" to.class, how to modify assignments, and how to talk to this student. She needs to trust me to decide when he needs a break, when and how to involve him in group activities. She needs to understand we are a team. I need to calm down before I can approach her.

I am not the special Ed teacher though. I am his para and para for one of his other classmates, but I am a certified teacher.
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Old 09-19-2019, 06:34 PM
 
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I agree that the student's needs were not being met and he was not treated appropriately or respectfully.

However, I think you have already done what you should do by reporting what happened to his teacher who said she would deal with the situation. Done.

It would be considered inappropriate for a para to 'correct' a teacher, even if the para is certified. Getting into a power struggle is likely to negatively affect your student.
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Old 09-19-2019, 06:43 PM
 
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That's exactly what I want to avoid, inappropriate behavior on my part. Definitely why I'm struggling on what to do. One of the things I don't want to do is announce to the whole school that I am certified. I don't want to cause the other Paras to think I think I am better than they-- I am still a para. I don't want the teachers to judge me harshly-- I am still a para. Obviously admin knows but I'd like it to stay there for the time being. I really don't want a power struggle with this teacher either. I have to go through the special Ed teacher since he is her student. Thanks for reassuring me of this. It's just so frustrating. Now I have an example of a time I didn't agree with another teacher to use on my next interview, should that question come up again.


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Old 09-19-2019, 06:55 PM
 
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It is not your job to speak to this teacher.
I am assuming your immediate supervisor is the Special Teacher/Coordinator.
You have brought the issue to her attention.
She will handle it.
You are not the library teacher's immediate supervisor.
It is not your job to evaluate her job performance.
That job belongs to the principal.

Your job is the child's assigned educational assistant.
Simply ask the library teacher how the two of you can work together to make the time in this class a positive experience for your student.
Advocate for this child and approach this matter from a problem solving point of view rather than a
Quote:
it will be a very long school year for her if I have to see to that myself
attitude.


I am not condoning her actions and I understand your concerns.
But once you start going after co-workers you are starting down a slippery slope that may not have the results you want or expect.
When that happens, the child often gets lost in the debacle.
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Old 09-19-2019, 07:04 PM
 
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You're right. I'm talking about her attitude but I need to deal with my own. Like I said I need to calm down before I speak to her-- which at this point will be as a para in class. I will report what goes on in class as I would any other-- what went well, what didn't. The special Ed teacher can handle it.
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Old 09-20-2019, 02:26 AM
 
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It still boggles my mind that after DECADES of Special Education Services in schools that schools are still unaware that everyone who works with student need training must apply the strategies and accommodations for the student's needs.

Schools notoriously drop the ball on this. Elective courses in MS and HS don't inform teachers of disabilities of the students in their classes and have all kinds of problems with these "bad kids" when just following the IEP which is a legal document applying to all aspects of school, not just core courses, would remove many of the issues.
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Old 09-20-2019, 05:29 AM
 
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Is your librarian notified about which students have special needs? Is she provided with any information about what modifications are necessary for the various (probably many) special ed. students she deals with? As a music teacher, I went through years of dealing with special ed. teachers who, apparently, thought that I should just magically know which students had special needs and how best to deal with them even though I never had access to any information about it. Sometimes, if I went to them and asked (usually after there had been a problem) I might get some help but not always. And I was better prepared to deal with special ed. students than many special area teachers in that I had worked as a special ed. para before I finished my teaching degree.

I think that some of this librarian's behavior was inappropriate for any student but maybe she's crabby because she's tired of being expected to be a mind-reader. Maybe she's crabby because she understands, as special ed. teachers and paras often don't, that special treatment for kids who need it sometimes results in problems with the rest of the class. ("*** was 20 minutes late and you didn't say anything but now I'm in trouble for being 10 minutes late because I stopped in the bathroom. That's not fair.") Maybe she's crabby because she sees every student in the school and doesn't have a lot of time to modify and alternatively grade every worksheet assigned to a special ed. student. Maybe she's crabby because she thinks that if a student can't do the work in her class there might be a better place for him to be during library. Maybe she's crabby because she doesn't enjoy being judged by people who don't have teaching certificates. Yes, I noted that you do but she has probably dealt with plenty of paras who didn't and she may not know that you are certified. I would just about guarantee that her irritation is more with the adults she has been dealing with than with the student himself. And yes, she should be more professional than to make the student pay for it.

Or maybe she really is just mean. Either way, you are not her supervisor.
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Old 09-20-2019, 06:02 AM
 
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She sounds terrible. She may have some history with this student. Do some questioning.
I completely told a librarian off one time! She was mean to everyone and the draw was when she was mean to first grade because she didnít like their teacher! I told her she was mean and she should never work with children. She came to my room to apologize and I was so mad I was shaking. I told her to get out and when she tried to talk again I told her again to get out!


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Old 09-20-2019, 07:24 AM
 
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Tori, good question. I assumed she has been provided with appropriate information about this student but I do not know it as fact. Maybe my conversation with the Special Ed teacher could be to ask what we can do to help this teacher better understand his needs. Of course I have to be careful to word this in a way that shows I want him to succeed, not that I. On either teacher.

Besides the whole working as a team thing, staying within my role, I have to remember I am trying to get a teaching position within the school system. I want to be proactive, but I can't sir up trouble.
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Old 09-20-2019, 12:04 PM
 
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Primrose, she had the student last year. I am unsure of the details
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Old 09-20-2019, 01:18 PM
 
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You need to go to the principal.
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Old 09-21-2019, 04:24 AM
 
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Sorry, but I don't think the librarian has any excuse for her behavior. At all. Differentiating instruction fir ALL students is nothing new. Her behavior is the problem, not the 8 year old's. I would implement accommodations . I don't care if she thinks the fidgets are toys, I would have given the child what he needs. There are schools that don't require the librarian to teach so maybe she should get one of those jobs.
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Old 09-21-2019, 07:11 AM
 
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I think you should let the SPED teacher handle this. She should be the one talking to her about modifying assignments. As for being late, I think I'd just ignore it if she says anything in the future. Or tell her you'd be happy to discuss it privately with her. Good for you for sticking up for your student and doing your job.
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Now that I've had time to process this...
Old 09-21-2019, 05:23 PM
 
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This teacher may or may not do her part, but I will do my best to make this work for my student. I will continue to bring fidgets and provide other accomodations the special education teacher has me provide in his other classes. I won't come against this teacher, but I will do my job, as a para. A couple of days ago I was ready to let her have it, but that's not going to help anybody. I will let her do her job how she sees fit, take concerns to the special education teacher, and she can do the same if she feels I am not doing my job. I backed down the other day to avoid escalating the situation with the teacher. It worked out, but I risked the student having a meltdown. When he got the most frustrated, it was time to check out a book, which is what he wanted. I just let him go at that point. He knew exactly where to find a book from his favorite book series, and once he checked out the book he was free. I can't count on always having an out like this, so I need to be allowed to do my job to help this student to be ready to learn.
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The SPED team at my school
Old 09-21-2019, 07:06 PM
 
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provides me a list of accommodations for every child in the school. It has the name of the child, the diagnosis, and every accommodation he/she in entitled to. I keep those documents in a notebook, along with class rosters and my schedule on my desk, so I can take a quick look to remind me what I need to do (until I learn the children's needs).

I would hope your SPED department does the same. Nonetheless, you'd have to be pretty clueless not to recognize that a child who comes with his own para has some pretty extensive disabilities and needs some accommodations. If she doesn't know what they are, it is just as incumbent on her to find out as well.
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Old 09-22-2019, 07:55 AM
 
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Quote:
a child who comes with his own para has some pretty extensive disabilities and needs some accommodations. If she doesn't know what they are, it is just as incumbent on her to find out as well.
Not every child who has his own para requires academic accommodations. I've had several students who traveled with a para because of a medical issue and didn't need any particular accommodation from me. Of course, I always knew what was going on with those students because the school nurse took it upon herself to make sure everyone who dealt with those students had access to that information.

And, again I would ask: How many students does this librarian see in a week? How many special ed. students does she see in a week? I taught in a small school but still typically saw 350 students in a week. I generally dealt with 30-40 special ed. students in a week. I know of one elementary school that has 500+ students and roughly a third of them have been identified as special needs. Their librarian (and their other specialists) sees every kid in the school but still it's her responsibility, for more than 150 students, to figure out which students are special ed., figure out which one of several teachers is the case manager for that student, go to that teacher and ask which modifications should be made? That's what would have to happen in that school because special ed. teachers are terrified of putting anything in writing that won't be locked up in their own files. You'd be in big trouble for keeping that information on your desk where anybody might be able to access it. Fortunately, in that school, the special ed. teachers take responsibility for including special area teachers in the information that's given to classroom teachers. However, teachers have to make their own notes, and keep those notes locked up. That's so that, if they fail to keep that info. confidential, they'll be the ones who get sued, not the special ed. teacher. And, of course, they have to give up an awful lot of prep. time to attend meetings for every grade level in order to get that information.
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