Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Resource Teacher

Ah, to think that I didn't even know what a resource teacher was before the new school year started!  I now know that a) they can be very valuable members of your child's educational team, and b) we're very lucky to have access to one while Samantha's in the private preschool two days a week.  My apologies with this post, as it's quite long.  I am incapable of telling a story in anything even resembling a condensed version.

I still feel a flutter of that old anxiety while merely writing this post after last week's uncertainties.  A feeling I don't want to have again, but I know we'll be faced with many times in the upcoming years. 

Just before the last school year ended, Samantha's teacher and Vice Principal called a brief IEP meeting to discuss their desire to have a resource teacher visit Samantha at her private school for 1 1/2 hours each day (or 3 hours per week).  I thought that sounded just fine.  I didn't know what the purpose would be, and I hoped that this person wouldn't pull Samantha out of the class for any reason (that would defeat the purpose of her being in this school!), but I knew we'd be able to meet with her and figure out the plan.

Steve met with her and since we did not have a schedule yet from the school detailing the school day, she winged it and came to the classroom at random times for the first few days.  And then I got an e-mail.

Not just any e-mail.  An e-mail from the school Director.  Requesting a meeting between us and the classroom teacher, to discuss Samantha's progress.  I know, and probably most of you know too, that this is a code word for Trouble.  I'd been almost expecting this.  Steve dropped Samantha off to school each day and picked her up each day, with nothing from the Director or teacher other than, "Oh, Sammi had a great day today!"  So we felt pretty blindsided.  I called the Director to have her clarify, hoping I was wrong and that a few words from her would make those very busy butterflies in my stomach go away, but she said they wanted to discuss Sammi's progress and placement (another code word).  Great.  So a meeting was set for the next morning.  Panicking, we called the resource teacher for some last-minute advice that night.  She gave us some very helpful information, helped us to stay calm.  The sensible people in us believed that finding the right timing for the resource teacher to visit the class to help with whatever the sticking points were would be the solution, but that sounded too easy, given the tone of the message from the school.  More likely it would be a case of the school not wanting her there, ready to give us the heave-ho.  Every possible scenario entered our thoughts.

We entered the meeting feeling pretty defensive, not smiling.  Steeling ourselves up for the inevitable, sure that this was the first real rejection we'd face for our daughter.

But it went much better than expected.  The teacher and the Director apologized for how they had come across the previous day.  Explained that their only concerns were during the three 20-minute group activity times during the day when Samantha, now comfortable with her environment, would wander away from the group and the teacher would have to continually fetch her, losing the other children to distraction in the meantime.  It was taking away from the academic focus of the group.  But Samantha was doing great in all of the other aspects of the school day.

Now why didn't they tell us that sooner?  The easy solution, the one we all agreed to very quickly, was that we would ask the resource teacher to come each day during the first two group times to help keep Samantha focused and on-track.  The Director or her assistant would come in for the 3rd group time, later in the day.  And that's exactly what was put into place the next day.  And it worked beautifully.  Below is the e-mail from the resource teacher right after she left the school on that first day of adjusted schedule implementation:   

Mr. & Mrs. Bates,

I did not have a chance to write out my weekly report today at Mxxxxxxxx so I wanted to let you know how it went today.  Today was very successful. During the first group time, I worked with Samantha and two other little girls on counting, sorting, adding, and subtracting with unifix cubes. The lesson that I was doing varied from Ms. Sxxxxx  but did accomplish the same goal. Outdoor time was wonderful as always. S rode the seesaw with other children, played tag with a sweet little girl (NOTE:  I think this is the same little girl that Samantha has become close friends with, in an adjoining classroom, according to the teacher's report to Steve when he picked her up from school that day), climbed the jungle gym, and hopped on a special Mrs. D chalk drawn hopscotch. Group time 2 was successful in the respect that S sat at the table through the entire lesson although she did not want to participate - which I was okay with. They put vinyl gloves on and prepared pumpkin seeds for baking. We watched!  Using picture symbols, verbal prompts, and a bit of sign language, Samantha followed all directions (yes all) and did what was expected and acted appropriately during my time in the classroom. She also spontaneously used the bathroom - with no help - which I know is one of her goals.  I requested a copy of the curriculum for next week which the director did give me prior to me leaving. I will work to prepare some adaptations for next week...although the schedule is not particularly detailed. We will get there!!!

I'm so proud of my little girl.  And so grateful to the resource teacher and to the public school system for providing Samantha with her services.  My girl is getting the guidance and education she needs.  My girl is making friends.  I can now feel the butterflies begin to slow their fluttering so I can breathe again.  I can now see a clearer path to Kindergarten next year.  I see learning.  I see hope.  I see a strong future.

10 comments:

Beth said...

It sounds like Sammi's got a great team on her side! That's terrific!

I'd like to share something that helped Hannah with attending during group time. She had the most difficulty during story time, when the stories were unfamiliar and a little too long for her. I asked for a list of the books that would be read for the next week. We went to the library and got as many as we could, and read them in advance. If she lost interest, I just summarized the story so she'd have a familiarity with the story. It really helped her pay attention when she was in circle time.

JRS said...

I'm so glad it has worked out this way. Whew!
---Jen

Anonymous said...

What a girl!

my family said...

sound like a great team working with your sweet girl

Renee said...

Such wonderful news. I am so happy for Samantha and you and Steve. The resource teacher seems great and I bet the other kids enjoy working with her and Samantha.

Rochelle said...

I love happy endings...so glad that the meeting went well, that you all worked together as a team (as it should be) to find a solution and then the plan really worked. Really glad she is doing so well!
Look forward to following you guys and see how she amazingly conquers kindergarten.

tekeal said...

sounds so positive and full of people willing and wanting and making if work for sam. take it in!

Zoey's mom said...

To "see hope".Isn't that what we all want?So glad the butterflies are subsiding and that "your butterfly" is flying!

Kristi said...

Team work is where it's at!! And sounds like yours is doing wonderfully! :) So glad Samantha is having a good school experience! :)
Kristi

Melissa M said...

I love that you were able to get a great solution worked out. School has me more nervous than anything else coming up, so I'm filing away all these success stories to draw on down the road.