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Ideas for special learners in the regular classroom

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Basic Member
6 years ago
I teach at a Catholic school in Cincinnati, Ohio. We have quite a few students who have IEPs. When families send their child here on IEPs, they sign a waiver that releases our school from this and it is then called a service plan. We have special teachers who take the students once or twice a week and work with them on the goals established, and also work to help support the regular classes. We have the age-old dilemma of these students becoming too dependent on the special teachers. We would like to work on making these students more independant learners. (Although, by nature, these are the students who don't have the skill set to be organized, write in their homework notebook, take the correct book home, etc. They also are the children who typically have less support at home.) Does anyone have ideas that have worked for them regarding this?

Last updated: 6 years ago

Basic Member
6 years ago
There are specific reasons students are given IEP's. A student is given an IEP because of a disability that impacts there acquisition of content. As for what to do in a school setting to get them more independent and less reliant on a specific teacher or "specialist" is very much dependent on how structured your school or classroom is as well as your ability to differentiate the content to give these students access to the curriculum at a level that challenges them but takes into account there specific needs. You mentioned organization. If your class/school has a school wide agenda book could a teacher, at the end of the day, check the students agenda to make sure needed assignments and any related work is filled in/gathered? Or you could pair students so that there is a peer relationship established were the students are looking out for each other. Furthermore guided notes, reduced numbers of problems (that can gradually increase over time depending on student success), visual supports, checklist to needed content (example 3-5 sentences are needed to create an paragraph), all help students participate in the general education setting.

I hope you find this helpful.

Melissa H.
Basic Member
6 years ago
Quote from melissahabich
There are specific reasons students are given IEP's. A student is given an IEP because of a disability that impacts there acquisition of content. As for what to do in a school setting to get them more independent and less reliant on a specific teacher or "specialist" is very much dependent on how structured your school or classroom is as well as your ability to differentiate the content to give these students access to the curriculum at a level that challenges them but takes into account there specific needs. You mentioned organization. If your class/school has a school wide agenda book could a teacher, at the end of the day, check the students agenda to make sure needed assignments and any related work is filled in/gathered? Or you could pair students so that there is a peer relationship established were the students are looking out for each other. Furthermore guided notes, reduced numbers of problems (that can gradually increase over time depending on student success), visual supports, checklist to needed content (example 3-5 sentences are needed to create an paragraph), all help students participate in the general education setting.

I hope you find this helpful.

Melissa H.

Thank you for your ideas! Those are things that our classroom teachers do on a regular basis, as you said, from the information on the IEPs. I probably should have written the question differently! We find that the special education students tend to sit back and let the special teachers do the organizing for them. They will wait until someone else does it for them instead of taking the iniative themselves. They would rather sit and wait and have someone tell them what to do instead of forging ahead on their own. They wait for the special teachers / regular teachers to get study guides together to go over material for tests. We help them with what they need on an everyday basis and from class to class as needed. In many cases, this turns out to be "enabling" on our part. There seems to be a fine line with some students between giving needed support and this enabling. We would like to keep enabling to a minimum and are looking to see what has worked for others to give special education students the confidence needed to be more independant learners.

Basic Member
6 years ago
Quote from lkohler8891
Quote from melissahabich
There are specific reasons students are given IEP's. A student is given an IEP because of a disability that impacts there acquisition of content. As for what to do in a school setting to get them more independent and less reliant on a specific teacher or "specialist" is very much dependent on how structured your school or classroom is as well as your ability to differentiate the content to give these students access to the curriculum at a level that challenges them but takes into account there specific needs. You mentioned organization. If your class/school has a school wide agenda book could a teacher, at the end of the day, check the students agenda to make sure needed assignments and any related work is filled in/gathered? Or you could pair students so that there is a peer relationship established were the students are looking out for each other. Furthermore guided notes, reduced numbers of problems (that can gradually increase over time depending on student success), visual supports, checklist to needed content (example 3-5 sentences are needed to create an paragraph), all help students participate in the general education setting.

I hope you find this helpful.

Melissa H.

Thank you for your ideas! Those are things that our classroom teachers do on a regular basis, as you said, from the information on the IEPs. I probably should have written the question differently! We find that the special education students tend to sit back and let the special teachers do the organizing for them. They will wait until someone else does it for them instead of taking the iniative themselves. They would rather sit and wait and have someone tell them what to do instead of forging ahead on their own. They wait for the special teachers / regular teachers to get study guides together to go over material for tests. We help them with what they need on an everyday basis and from class to class as needed. In many cases, this turns out to be "enabling" on our part. There seems to be a fine line with some students between giving needed support and this enabling. We would like to keep enabling to a minimum and are looking to see what has worked for others to give special education students the confidence needed to be more independant learners.

It sounds like the students are taking advantage of their accommodations. It also sounds like they need explicit instruction on how to get organized and then to have that behavior documented on behavior logs. Something else that I have found useful for my students is to have a visual reminder (cue card). For example, the card would have a list of things they are to do when they first arrive in class: do warm-up, turn-in homework, write down homework assignment, etc. The card would be laminated so that the student could check off each item that is completed (and write in the name of the textbook they need to take home, etc.) Accommodations are to help students access the general curriculum on a level playing feeling with gen ed peers. But they will need to learn these skills to they can continue to access things as they continue to get older and move into adulthood. Hope this helps!
Basic Member
+2
6 years ago
Good question, and this is a common problem for kids in public schools too! A couple of strategies that I use to promote independent learning:

1. Above all else, it's imperative to make sure that the tasks you are asking of the kiddos are feasible. Knowing your kids well and differentiating instruction from the very beginning often prevents many problems later on.

2. Provide positive reinforcement for tasks done independently. Start small...maybe the kiddo never writes her name on her paper, let alone completes any work without prompting. Reinforce her for writing her name without reminders, and gradually fade the rewards/prompting as the students' ability to work independently increases. I used to use a token economy (I gave out tickets which could be spent at my class "store").

3. I sometimes allow my kids to work for having a task load reduced. Many students have been responsive to the notion that if they are able to take initiative to start a task (and then sustain their efforts), they may have a portion of the assignment removed while they are working. I've used this sparingly in the past, but for some kids it works like a charm! They LOVE being able to cross out the last row of problems on a math worksheet. :)

I hope these ideas help you a little bit. As others have said, it's hard to give advice without knowing the specific dynamics of your classroom. Keep us posted!

Full Member
+10
6 years ago
Quote from JoyBrown
Good question, and this is a common problem for kids in public schools too! A couple of strategies that I use to promote independent learning:

1. Above all else, it's imperative to make sure that the tasks you are asking of the kiddos are feasible. Knowing your kids well and differentiating instruction from the very beginning often prevents many problems later on.

2. Provide positive reinforcement for tasks done independently. Start small...maybe the kiddo never writes her name on her paper, let alone completes any work without prompting. Reinforce her for writing her name without reminders, and gradually fade the rewards/prompting as the students' ability to work independently increases. I used to use a token economy (I gave out tickets which could be spent at my class "store").

3. I sometimes allow my kids to work for having a task load reduced. Many students have been responsive to the notion that if they are able to take initiative to start a task (and then sustain their efforts), they may have a portion of the assignment removed while they are working. I've used this sparingly in the past, but for some kids it works like a charm! They LOVE being able to cross out the last row of problems on a math worksheet. :)

I hope these ideas help you a little bit. As others have said, it's hard to give advice without knowing the specific dynamics of your classroom. Keep us posted!

Well said, thanks for sharing... I am sharing this with some of our teachers, you are correct we struggle with this too in public schools.

Basic Member
+10
6 years ago
Hi

Those Are the reasons that the parents send them to private schools so they can become individualized. I would suggest that in the service plan you implement a parent /family component where you spell out what the parents need to do at home with the child. This puts some of the responsibility on the parents.

As far as making the children more independent you might want to give the students a peer buddy who works with the student during academic time.

Last updated: 6 years ago

Basic Member
+9
6 years ago
My daughter went from a private Catholic school to a public school for high school. The first thing the case managers told us was that she needs to learn how to self advocate. She learned that she needed to remind teachers to send the tests to the testing center, that she needed worksheets and books on audio. Most teachers were good at remembering, but a lot of them did not or they forgot as the year went on. You did say what grades these children were, but by middle school, my daughter learned that if she needed the accommodation, then she needed to remind the teachers. She was only 1 out of a class of 60, it was much easier for her to remind them! Make that one of their goals. It is better for them in the long run.
Full Member
+8
6 years ago
Quote from Mary Jo
My daughter went from a private Catholic school to a public school for high school. The first thing the case managers told us was that she needs to learn how to self advocate. She learned that she needed to remind teachers to send the tests to the testing center, that she needed worksheets and books on audio. Most teachers were good at remembering, but a lot of them did not or they forgot as the year went on. You did say what grades these children were, but by middle school, my daughter learned that if she needed the accommodation, then she needed to remind the teachers. She was only 1 out of a class of 60, it was much easier for her to remind them! Make that one of their goals. It is better for them in the long run.

I teach in public school and I have ESL and they are also EC students too. I actually I tell them to remind the teachers for their accommodations. I think everything has to do with the teacher. We need to be the advocate of our students. I don't think has nothing to do if it is private or public. Communication with parents, students and teachers are the clue to success. Make accountable all the parties. Example, when I give accommodation to my students, I make a signing sheet that the teacher has received the information and at the end of the six weeks that they have used the accommodation. Then, I have a short talk to the students to see if it is happening in the class. I hope some of this ideas can help you.

Last updated: 6 years ago

Basic Member
+6
6 years ago
Quote from Mary Jo
My daughter went from a private Catholic school to a public school for high school. The first thing the case managers told us was that she needs to learn how to self advocate. She learned that she needed to remind teachers to send the tests to the testing center, that she needed worksheets and books on audio. Most teachers were good at remembering, but a lot of them did not or they forgot as the year went on. You did say what grades these children were, but by middle school, my daughter learned that if she needed the accommodation, then she needed to remind the teachers. She was only 1 out of a class of 60, it was much easier for her to remind them! Make that one of their goals. It is better for them in the long run.

Encouraging students to self-advocate is great. Each year before school begins, I read and make personal notes for all of the IEPs, GIEPs, and 504s of students that will be in my classes. Since I see approximately 130 students daily, I have, occasionally, forgotten to make an accommodation (particularly at the beginning of the year) and it is a help when a student reminds me. Self-advocacy is a skill that all students need and is something that will benefit them when they leave school.
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