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Special Ed. and Time Managment
Old 12-20-2012, 02:21 PM
 
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I have been an elementary Special Ed. teacher for over 30 years at the same school in WA. Through the years there have been many changes in our "delivery of services". These changes have recharged me enough to stay in this area of teaching. When I started, I had eleven self contained students and a full time para. At this time, my caseload is up to 52 with five paras. Five students are mostly self-contained, the others come in and out for the service time they qualify in, and a handful of students are supported within the classroom. I oversee the program for these three grade levels. My wonderful paras work with the students and provide the interventions My day is to deal with behaviors, meet with parents and teachers, review data and complete all the paperwork. I would love to hear from "you" regarding time management. I am never caught up anymore. What tips can the "younger generation" give me to "stay on top" of the demands of a Special Ed. teacher? Have you found ways to manage your time and feel more productive? My only "calm, quiet" time is after everyone goes home.


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Old 12-20-2012, 06:35 PM
 
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Wow 52 kids. Isn't that illegal? I have no advice for you. I just can't believe you have so many on your caseload.
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Old 12-21-2012, 08:35 AM
 
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Our high school teacher has 61 students on her caseload!
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Wow
Old 12-21-2012, 12:55 PM
 
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In Ohio I believe the case load is 16 (I could be wrong I'm gen ed) for each intervention specialist. And it seems like there should be more than 5 paras per 50 kids. My guess is you're not in a union-friendly state. I have 18 IEP kids in one gen ed class (middle school) and I have another certified teacher (not sped teacher) helping me, I would die without her. I have no suggestions, other than shame your admin for not doing what is in the best interest of the children (especially if you can find laws to back you up like I did which is why have a 2nd teacher).
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Old 12-21-2012, 04:46 PM
 
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I would really check into the regs.....I can't see that this is legal.


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Old 12-22-2012, 06:44 AM
 
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If I am reading this correctly, you don't actually teach the students yourself, but mpst;y manage. As the Special Ed teacher, I must meet all of my minutes directly in addition to meetings and paperwork. My para assists but is not the teacher. How can you meet the needs of the students with such high numbers?
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same state, I think
Old 12-22-2012, 09:02 AM
 
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WA, as in Washington State? I'm in the same state and this isn't the norm in my area at all.


Quote:
My wonderful paras work with the students and provide the interventions My day is to deal with behaviors, meet with parents and teachers, review data and complete all the paperwork.
I have a case load a little under half your size, but I teach Primary grades (up to 4th, but have a couple 5th graders this year) so I have all the referrals. I do my own academic testing for evals and write them up. I teach all of my kids myself, plus all of the things you do (parents, behaviors/BIPs, IEPs, documentation, etc. etc.). I cannot imagine in my wildest dreams having 52 students, 5 paras to manage and ALL of that horrendous paperwork. I feel snowed under and overwhelmed much of the time with my load. I not only plan and prep, but do all the copying as well. I have one para and I have her work with a few small groups (with me in the room)..she also does some recess supervision for our students as well as a bit of classroom support. I used to have another pt. time IA, but that time was cut this year .

My para does work with a few small groups, but I also work with those same kids and am constantly pulling the kids while she's working with them to make sure the curriculum/lessons I've planned are appropriate on a daily basis. I can't imagine not teaching the kids and having untrained, uncert staff doing the teaching (really, the most important part). I don't do 'intervention', I deliver specially designed instruction. Non certs are not qualified to teach, but to support and follow your specially designed plans. I'm sorry, I cannot imagine how you manage all of this!
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Old 12-23-2012, 11:53 PM
 
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Clarifying a few things...
I am a union member. Special Ed. teachers are given an extra hour pay each week depending on the caseload (three hours for me at this time), we also are paid an additional hour for every IEP written after #30. Honestly if it was just academic students, it would be much easier to handle. The number of students that are in need of social skills, behavior modifications, non verbal and physically challenged students is draining at times. Especially frustrating, as you all know, is that the budget is always short, making is difficult to provide needed services to really support students.

Also, my paras are trained. We meet as a team weekly and individually daily. Many of the groups are done in the same room that I am working in. When we pull kids out of class for specially designed instruction, paras do follow my plans.

It was not my intention to complain. I truly enjoy my job and the staff I work with. I love and and appreciate every student on my caseload. I am just seeking ideas to manage all the expectations. Thank you!!!
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Old 12-27-2012, 04:15 PM
 
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Hi 4-everspecial.......When I made my first comment, it had started out much longer, but then I hit "a button" and it all disappeared. I know most of us special ed teachers love what we do.....and if we don't, we need to get out. I love what I do, but often get frustrated over the paperwork and all the red tape. Who did the training for your paras? I have to do the majority of any training my paras get. It becomes training on the go.... I did not read your message as complaining.....your concern was time....as is mine and I don't have anywhere the number you have. I always struggle with time and organization....so if you find the "magic fix" please let me know. :-) I mentioned checking the regs because I have a resource/self-contained combo class K-3rd grade. According to what I understand from the regs is there is a certain ratio/number of resource students you can have when you also have self contained. There is also something in the regs that if you have a student with a hearing impairment your class size is supposed to drop by two students. It is great that you have paras. I have 2 but they are 1:1 with a student. If the student is out sick, or out for therapies, I do use them to help with my resource students. I would love to know how you meet with your paras. I am going to be getting a couple more self-contained students after Christmas Break that will require a lot of care. I am concerned how I will handle all the self-contained along with my resource students. (especially with only 2 paras). One of my new kiddos is going to be in 2nd grade and has NEVER been in school before....nonverbal....(foster situation) an the other also nonverbal and uses eye gaze to communicate, feeding tube as well.....Yowzers!!! Sorry to have gotten off track. If I can find the regs I will post the site. (there is also something that says there can only be so many students at one time....I know in our 3rd-5th grade building you can have only 8 students at one time....with a para you can have 10 in the room). Wishing you the best of luck!
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clarification
Old 12-28-2012, 06:45 PM
 
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I did not read your post as "complaining" either....in fact, you seemed upbeat, if anything! I can't imagine being in your shoes. My shoes feel pinched enough these days! I went into teaching to teach, not manage and do paperwork (although I do both in addition to teaching full time).

It must be a district thing, because paras in my district are not automatically trained. They don't have special ed. training or education (or I should say, they don't have to in order to have this job). The lack of understanding for what we do is incredible. My current para has in the past stated that I am on the computer too much! Huh? I basically have to do paperwork almost every minute that kids aren't in front of me, including my lunch break.

Any training my para(s) get is done by me. I've tried to do a good job with this, but it is very difficult to train staff with no background as to why something needs to be done a certain way, not to mention no college education at all. Also, my para now has been in her position for several years before I came and the sped teacher before me didn't really care how things were done, whether staff was on time or consistent, etc., so I didn't make any friends when first coming on board. I've been able to make some changes and headway with relationships, but it's been very difficult. I've written up teaching 'scripts' (weekly) for the reading programs I use, but they aren't always used with 'fidelity'...I have to constantly watch and check to make sure things are done correctly.

Anyway, this isn't about me or my situation . I'm not sure how to answer your question because I have no idea what I would do in your place. I frankly think it is very wrong to have paras carry out specialized teaching while you act as a manager, tester, and paperwork completer. I would frankly look for another position. Teaching is the only thing that keeps me balanced in the crazy world of sped, !

I do wish you good luck and look forward to your future posts!


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Thank you!
Old 01-01-2013, 12:52 PM
 
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I appreciate the thoughts of fellow Sp. Ed. teachers. Being in a small school district for so long, the acknowledgement of "being in the same boat" helps; I'm not alone.

I have been fortunate to have paras that have been in this program with me for 2+ years. Actually one has been with me for at least nine years. She practically reads my mind now. Our intervention/specially designed programs are mostly scripted now. The paras also do all the IEP probes every other week and record the data. I meet with my paras each week after school. This is an optional meeting but they usually all stay for it. I keep track of the time (we keep it at 30 min.) and they use "trade time" to leave early during student conference weeks. We also have about 10-15 minutes each morning before the day begins with students to go over "updates". Once a month I meet with the grade level teachers to discuss/update students usually during their prep time or after students leave.

Sometimes having both self contained and a Resource Room students in the same room can get chaotic. We have rearranged the room several times but have put together an arrangement that works for me. Getting any serious paperwork done during the school day is nearly impossible but I am able to get parent phone calls or email replies done. I also can monitor what groups are doing and try to spend a few minutes reading with different students in the room.

Rarely do I leave the room for lunch, if I eat, it's on the run. What's prep time when you are in Special Ed.? With three grade levels and the different challenges of the students, I am on call, at all times. When someone is having a melt-down somewhere in the building, I want to be there. I carry a radio everywhere. Several paras have had training to assist when behaviors escalate. Everyday is interesting!!

Since I know and appreciate the kids on my caseload (I have had many of their parents) I do laugh at the crazy times and the funny events that happen. It's the humor only Special Ed. staff really understands and can laugh at because we love our kids.

Times have changed so much since I started. My primary focus is that every student knows I believe in them. They know our room is a safe place, we do appreciate the daily challenges they live with and will be there to support them. If they don't "feel" that, we wont see much progress in meeting IEP goals.

Thanks to all of you for sharing your thoughts, please stay "in touch" and any helpful ideas to use will always be appreciated.
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