This week was full of a lot of schedule and strategy changing due in a large part to different people being sick. Both of the students with more severe disabilities that were having challenging behaviors last week improved slightly, but we had not found a viable intervention plan yet that has lead to good production yet. One of our resource room teachers was absent for a couple of days, which allowed me an extended time to fill in and experience that kind of classroom for a lesson each day.
I was able to start assessing a student to help my mentor teacher create a new IEP, which has been a valuable experience for me so far. The student is improving quite a bit, and I’m trying to make sure my assessment is unbiased, which was a tough but important part of my assessment training. We want our students to do well, but when we “nudge” them for answers or are flexible in the standards then we are doing them harm by adjusting their future instruction improperly. In the next month I want make many of the essential aspects of a special education classroom a priority, such as IEP’s, FBA’s, and BIP’s. My mentor teacher is doing a great job of allowing me to work on these with her on these documents.
In my math lessons I am focusing on pre-subtraction skills, so I am using a lot of manipulatives and showing concrete examples of “taking away.” My math group is the more cognitively challenged group in my classroom, so these are difficult concepts but they are making progress. I tried to make a big leap with my writing group, and introduced the question mark as punctuation. I am realizing that this is an especially difficult idea for my students. I am finding that repetition and direct instruction are good approaches because since it is such a small difference in the placement of words they get confused. I find it tricky because the first graders that I work with in the resource room understand it quickly, and this illustrates their subtler disabilities. I give them concrete ideas such as keywords that begin a sentence, such as what, why, when, where, and who. These are the same questions we ask when brainstorming for writing, but they still need constant instruction and prompting. I feel that they will grasp it, but it is a new skill so it may take a while.