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texassunshine texassunshine is offline
 
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texassunshine
 
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I dread the beginning of the year...
Old 06-30-2010, 07:58 PM
 
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I am new to this website. I am 24 and beginning my 4 semester in the fall. I teach 6,7,8 resource/self special education.

That said. I am dreading the beginning of the year. I am looking at the schedule my principal has sent out and it has a schedule of our professional development for the week before school starts. That is all fine and dandy but what i have learned this past year and a half is that I learn NOTHING from school based/district development. My class is a stand alone class, the only one like it in the district. I teach varying levels from <K to mid 4th and i teach every subject. My kids dont take the regular state assessment, they don't have the same requirements as the other students, and I am finding the campus development to be completely pointless.

My school got a huge grant called Making Middle Grades Work...which is all about higher standards and rigor... Which is great for the other students. But when some of my children cant even write letters, I find it hard to pay attention to a seminar that teaches me how to create more in depth lessons to teach literature, or how anything less than an 80% paper will be unacceptable. It just seems absolutely rediculous to me to sit in these seminars for 4 days when I could be taking a class that is actually worth something. I find myself taking IEPs and velcro board game pieces that need to be colored to keep myself from falling out of my chair. I have literally gained nothing from these groups. During the school year we meet with our Department groups to discuss lessons and students. I go with the science group because they are the most entertaining group...not because I learn or get anything out of it.

Here's the question: How do you get through development that has nothing to do with your your class? Second, how do you get your district to do development that is more geared for self contained classes?

Any one have any ideas on this? Sorry to be so lengthy, I am just so frustrated with all of this and I am not sure if I can sit through another 4 days of how to make my classroom more rigorous! Thanks.


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Here's What I do
Old 06-30-2010, 10:19 PM
 
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I go to these things just so I'll have the back-up to say that it WON'T work for my kids. I do get some good ideas, but rarely any. I am just able to say, look, I've been to the workshops and heard what it is all about and here's why it won't work with my kids.

Also, do some research and find something that you can do on those days and present that to your principal. Tell him/her why you think this would be better for you.

Another thing I do is ask questions specific to my kids out loud so that the presenter knows your specific situation. A lot of times, the presenter will really try to help you out with something or at least give you some ideas that you might try with your kiddos.

I have also taken in paperwork and stuff to do during these workshops and the presenters know why. They know me, they know what I teach, and they don't understand why I have to be there.

Have you talked to your principal about maybe you spending that time working on your classroom instead of wasting it in there? Sometimes, they will allow you to do something that will be more helpful to you.
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Old 07-01-2010, 02:43 AM
 
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I used to be like you, but then I came to the realization that there's always something that can be learned by attending these mandatory workshops. I may find that some of the things I can use in my classroom. There may be other ideas that I can use if modified. Then there are just the times where a presented idea will spark a new idea for something else. So, I'm usually the guy who's feverishly writing notes about something new I can try, or improve upon. Of course, there's always the argument that we should know what is going on around us in order for us to provide a curriculum for our students that is as close to the regular program as possible.
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Old 07-01-2010, 03:57 AM
 
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I agree with both previous posts. If you can find an alternative workshop or PD, go ahead and aproach your principal. I would go to him/her with a plan! If you don't have a plan it may look like complaining to your principal. If there is no other option, then go in with an open mind. Something might spark an idea or alternative activity you can do with your students. I have been in a similar classroom for 15 years (4-6 grade) and knowing the expectations and curriculum of the gen ed kids did make me a much better teacher. It also made communication better with parents when they wanted to know why Joey could not be in the gen ed classes. I was able to better explain why with examples of requirements. I know it is frustrating to be a team of one sometimes!! Take this as an opportunity to explain to others what it is you do. Many people do not understand unless they have taught a class like we teach. If nothing else, enjoy lunch and visiting with friends you did not see over the summer!!
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Old 07-01-2010, 04:30 AM
 
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I'm in a similar situation. For the past three years, my principal has just let me do my own thing during professional development. He knew me well enough to know that I was working. I've done a variety of on-line and video workshops.

The up-side to that is that I've learned a lot of new techniques to use with my kids. Google online workshop and a topic of your choice and you'll be surprised with what you can come up with - often completely free. If you want to let me know what topics you're interested in, I'll be happy to share any trainings I know of.

The down-side to this approach is that I stopped being part of the faculty. Even the principal stopped being involved in my class. I think this was b/c nobody really knew what we were doing, and I didn't really know
what they were doing. Not a good situation - try to avoid it!

My advice would be to take a middle of the road approach. Find something that you could do for 1 or 2 of those days and ask your principal about it. That way, you are still part of the faculty but you're also getting your own needs met. BTW, my approach with my principal was to have a written agenda for what I was going to do as well as a follow-up. So, I might be doing 3 Boardmaker video tutorials and creating 1 literacy, 1 math, and 1 life-skills activity to go with my next unit. It communicates that you are serious about learning rather than just trying to get out of something.


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If you are teaching resource,
Old 07-01-2010, 07:24 AM
 
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then many of your students will be in general education classes. It will be part of your job to figure out how to help your students access the curriculum through differentiation, modifications, or some shadow curriculum. It is helpful to have a basic understanding of the varies curriculum at your school. What confuses me is how you can be both self contained and resource? Do you have a split job?

If trainings have absolutely nothing to do with my student or me, I can attend another training or work in my room. For example, I do not use the main math curriculum, so I attend the safety committee meetings. My school schedules these to coincide with the math trainings so that the various specials teachers can fulfill professional development requirements in useful and meaningful ways. I am not an official member of the safety committee, but I now have a thorough understanding of our disaster preparation plans.

I can also take a training from an offered on the district PD site. At this point, I only take sped trainings under duress. Years of disorganized, meaningless, and condescending trainings has taught me to expect the worse.
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I agree with the above posts
Old 07-01-2010, 08:05 AM
 
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for the most part--especially this--

Quote:
Of course, there's always the argument that we should know what is going on around us in order for us to provide a curriculum for our students that is as close to the regular program as possible.
There are times when the PD is boring as sin and has nothing to do with me...this is actually pretty rare, but it is just one of those things. My principal expects us to attend ALL PD-at least for our grade levels. Since I teach 5 grade levels, this happens quite a bit. He also attends and doesn't take kindly to us bringing things to work on.

We are also expected to be a part of different teams and groups throughout the year. For example, I was on two teams last year--one a teaching/learning group (valuable) and one was the building math team (not as valuable to me). There are times when I go through the motions to be a team player. I did tell my principal that the math team had very little to do with my actual job (didn't ask to get out of it) and explained why--he asked, so I told. Not sure if anything will change, but I wanted to be honest....but I was careful not to complain about the time it took up when I should have been completing paperwork .

Although I understand where you are coming from, the more you separate yourself from your peers, the more misunderstandings about what you actually do can occur. Most gen. ed. teachers (and principals!) don't have a clue all that our jobs entail. Asking to skip PD isn't going to help that.

Unfortunately, our district sped dept. doesn't provide a lot of PD--we always have to fill out a questionaire at the end of the year about what we want, but they never seem to offer much. What they are good at is allowing us to attend workshops in the areas we need to develop in.
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texassunshine texassunshine is offline
 
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wow
Old 07-01-2010, 09:23 AM
 
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Thanks for all the replies. I am glad to know I am not the only one out there feeling like that.

To answer some of the questions that were asked...This past school year I was completely self contained except for pe, art and life skills elective classes. I had 8 students and one TA. This year, 3 of the students I had last year are going to be going to resource math, and reading classes, as well as inclusion science. The other 5 are going to be with me self contained. So i have more of a split class than a split job. I teach all subjects. I think this is what makes it so difficult for me to find things to participate in in PD. My lowest students are so low compared to regular population students. And my middle kids are still 2 or 3 minimum grade levels below the general pop so for the most part they will never go to full inclusion for core academics.

The idea of finding online classes is interesting. I hadnt thought about trying that. My district is very limited on the number of PDs for self contained classes. So I will definitely look into that.

Thanks for your help guys. That made me think outside the box.
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