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ST13 ST13 is offline
 
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Feeling unconfident and defeated
Old 06-25-2016, 03:09 AM
 
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So I just finished my very first year of special Ed. I feel like I am supposed to be proud of myself and I was until I had my final evaluation with my principal she made negative comments about many of the things I've done this year and said my kids were not making enough progress in reading. However, what bothers me is not so much the feedback but that I am only learning about this on the very last day of school. I just wish she or someone could have said all this to me throughout the year so that I could be monitoring and maybe change things up.

On the other hand, though my students did not make ENOUGH progress acoriding to her standards, am I wrong to think that progress is progress no matter how slow? especially for kids with disabilities shouldn't we be celebrating the small victories knowing how hard it is for them sometimes?

Her attitude just felt very hurtful and to be honest now I am thinking maybe I am not a good teacher after all. As a first year teacher my confidence was already super low but when you hear your principal (who has a special Ed background) say these things it's just so defeating.

Has this ever happened to you?


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(((Hugs))!
Old 06-25-2016, 03:59 AM
 
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The first year is SO hard! Did she give you specific feedback as to what you need to do differently? How can you grow without timely feedback? I would ask for supports to be put into place to help you your second year. Do you have an instructional facilitator, or academic coaches you can meet with/work with?

The first year is really about survival, and you made it! Yay for you! The second year is for refining your instruction. I am district trainer mentor, and I think you are right on track.

She was wrong to wait until the end to throw that at you. Now you know to touch base with her on a regular basis. Be proactive. You'll be fine! And you have us to answer any questions you have along the way.
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Well, YES
Old 06-25-2016, 07:35 AM
 
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If it helps any, I am Year 10 of SpEd and still have days, weeks, and months like that... We can only do what we can do. This was my first year in this district, My first two observations were AWFUL and I felt that they had gone very well. Then I had a couple that were so bad, it made me think I would be fired on the spot. When the write ups were posted, the scores were better than before. They went up a lot.

I was also told that my students were not making adequate progress as well-then two of my most difficult students were up for re-eval and took the Woodcock Johnson as part of the testing. Both of them showed tremendous progress by that measure! Showed me that by a different evaluation, they were making more than sufficient progress.

The evaluation is only one part of this picture. Celebrate your success and keep your chin up. The first year is hard for everyone. Sometimes other years are hard too. It's part of the job. These kids are special ed for a reason and will not follow typical patterns--ever. It's crazy that anyone would even expect that.
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Old 06-25-2016, 12:18 PM
 
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Munchkins - thanks so much for the support. No she never gave be any advice on what to do different she basically just told me everything I did wrong which was hard to hear without atleast some support or encouragement. We don't have any coaches etc. my mentor actually had her last year this year and she was the one I would ask 99% of my questions. There are a handful of other teachers I can go to next year who I am not as close to but I do know they would be happy to help and have been a huge help this year.

You're right about being proactive, now I know if she ever comes to observe me again I need to specially set up a meeting within the week to hear some feedback.
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Old 06-25-2016, 12:24 PM
 
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Whatever - I'm glad to hear even experienced veteran teachers have moments like this!! She really made me feel like what had happened was just unheard of. Though she did say she should have come see me more often and what she saw is just a snapshot, the way she worded things was just very hurtful and just made me feel inadequate as a teacher. I have had zero experience in special Ed before this year other than two months of student teaching with a COMPLETELY different population so I was really thrown into this whole year blind and I don't think she really takes that into consideration. I'm happy to learn from others and learn new methods but I do need some guidance.

You're right about celebrating my successes. My kids have come such a long way this year and it doesn't necessarily show that on tests and formal assessments which is the only thing she looks at. I'm very proud of my students, I think they worked super hard and I wish they were acknowledged for the progress they DID make.


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good advice so far
Old 06-25-2016, 03:17 PM
 
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I agree with Whatever about the progress of students with disabilities.

Does your principal know everything about these students? Has she seen the evals/IEPs? Is she well-versed about each student's disability? If not, she doesn't have a clue about how much progress they should be expected to make. There may be other issues (health, mental health, etc.) at play as well that complicate things.

Special Ed. background-that could simply mean an endorsement. Unless she has worked in special ed. as a teacher, psych, etc., she really may not have a true understanding about children with disabilities.

I'm also a sped. teacher who is about to begin year 10. Even the best principal I've worked with so far wanted my kids to make gains at the same rate as the 'typical' kids. He truly didn't get it, even though he was a very intelligent man otherwise.

I'm really sorry. It's so frustrating and I have been there, although I have not received bad evals. Just gone round and round with principals who don't get 'it'. Most of them wanted my kids to pass their state tests as well, even though we have a huge population of gen. ed. kids who can't.

Don't let it get you down. Do what you need to do for your kids. Advocate for your program. Enlist the help (mostly for support) of SPECIAL ED. colleagues in your building or other buildings in your district. I'm not sure 'coaches' (title math or literacy) would be much help, truthfully. These coaches, even when great and well-trained, often don't know alot about sped. either. That's just been my experience.

Feel free to vent and ask questions here as well. This board is a little slow, but post away .

Now, relax a bit and then get some things together for next year to make your life easier. Look over the suggestions the principal made and see if there are things you can change that will work to support your students.

Have a good summer!!
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Old 06-25-2016, 09:09 PM
 
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That stinks . Even if your principal wants you to work on some things, she should have said some positive things also and gave you more constructive feedback. Rather than waiting until next year, I would be more proactive now. Ask for a meeting with her and tell her that you want to start improving on some of the things she mentioned. Decide together what the top one or two priorities for "fixing" right now are. Ask her for concrete things you could do to improve these one or two areas. Ask if there is a teacher (even if it's in another building) who is already doing these things that you could observe and talk to. Ask if you can meet more regularly next year to discuss your progress.

As for the students not making enough progress, I think performance of sped students is becoming a bigger issue, even nationally. In the political realm there has been a lot of talk about how "they" (politicians) want to switch from measuring compliance for sped (making sure IEP paperwork is correct, etc.) to measuring performance. My state is loud and clear about their stance that all students with disabilities who are receiving services should be performing at grade level unless the disability is cognitive.

When I first started working in my district three years ago, my sped director was a wonderful advocate for "celebrating small steps" and looking for growth rather than grade level proficiency. In fact, when I got hired I asked her about state testing because I'd heard rumors that scores would be part of our evaluation, and obviously I didn't expect to get as good of scores as I did as a gen ed teacher. She totally laughed it off and said something like, "Don't worry about that at all. I know for our students, we need to look at growth rather than proficiency. If they were proficient, they wouldn't be in sped anymore anyway, so that's an impossible standard." She has done a complete 180 this year; I can't even believe she's the same person! At the beginning of the year she made us look through all of the state testing results and lamented about how far behind our kids are. I've heard from people that are closer to her that it's all coming from people above her (superintendent and state level people) and she has to either get on board or worry about losing her own job. It's possible that what your P is saying is coming from people above her.

I have posted many times about how frustrating it is that my students with disabilities are expected to perform on grade level. I don't understand how people don't see the irony in the fact that to get into sped in the first place, students have to massively "fail" a standardized test (woodcock Johnson is what we use) and have a proven track record of not responding to interventions. Due to how massively underfunded sped is, at least in my building once they get into sped they're not really getting any more or better interventions than they were getting before. In fact, sometimes the title group they were in for the RtI process had less students and/or met for more time than I'm able to see them for. So we label them and do a bunch of paperwork, and they're magically supposed to start responding to interventions and passing standardized tests? It makes no sense! It is very frustrating that no matter what my kids do, it's never "good enough." They could even make more than one year of progress during one school year, but it's still not "good enough" if they're not exactly on grade level.
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Your principal
Old 06-26-2016, 09:33 AM
 
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May have a background in SPED (this could mean many things) but she clearly does not understand your specific population of students.

I am also a beginning SPED teacher. I am fortunate in that I have a very understanding P who reassures us that ANY progress with these kids is good progress and deserves to be celebrated.

It appears that most admin need more training in SPED. These kids do not make progress at the same rate or in the same way as their typically developing peers. That is why they are in our classes. If they could make the "expected" progress, THEY WOULD NOT NEED SPED. Some admin really need a reality check, I swear.
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Old 06-26-2016, 09:38 AM
 
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You just said everything I was thinking and more! We use WIAT instead of Woodcock. My kids always "massively fail" this test. Yet, they are expected to perform at grade level. Makes me sick.
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Amen, NewCAteacher
Old 06-26-2016, 10:38 AM
 
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So much word to the concept if they can do this or that, why are they in my room?

I also agree about the point that even if an administrator has a sped background, high school resource is not elementary BD or middle school life skills or intermediate co-teaching or early-childhood push-in support.


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