Because I often tend to get long-winded when talking about myself, I'll say that this is just Part I, to keep your eyes from glazing over, and that there will be at least one more Part in the series of A's to your Q's.
Q) What do you want teachers to know when your child is in their class? How can teachers help your child in inclusion? What is the most frustrating things about school? What do teachers not do that you wish they did?
A) Oh, these are excellent questions! I may have to skip the 4th question because her teachers read my blog, but to be honest, I can't think of anything at this point that they did not do that I wished they did. This is actually a pretty hard series of questions in general - we've been really fortunate that we've not yet seen the *other* side of education, the one where we need to fight for inclusion or one where the teachers weren't invested in my child's education. We've always had an aide in the class that helps Samantha stay focused and helps to modify some of the instructions. We don't want the GenEd teachers to have to modify what they do for a class of 21 to suit just one child - it's not fair to them. We want to make sure that the supports are in place within the classroom environment to help Samantha keep up, etc.
We had an IEP meeting yesterday to add in some accomodations and modifications, things they already had in place, but that we wanted in writing just in case. They included having Samantha stay in class for the introductory portion of the more conceptual lessons (Civics, History), then leave as part of a small group to have the lesson broken down into more basic, comprehendable pieces by the Resource Teacher. I really don't give a rat's ass if Samantha learns what the longest river in Europe is, but I do want her to know how to look at a map or globe and to understand where we live in relation to other places. She can memorize stuff, but I'd rather she understand more basic concepts that will help her in the future. This is what they've been doing, and this is what's been working. I don't mind these short, periodic pull-outs, as long as she's learning. We were validated a few weeks ago when we were told by Sammi's GenEd teacher, the Resource Teacher, the Assistant Principal and two people from the county that had observed Sammi in the classroom setting, that she is definitely in the right placement, that she belongs in the GenEd second grade setting. I know that can often be the biggest fear for parents - that someone will come and tell them that things just aren't working out, that they need to re-evaluate their child's placement in school. I certainly feel for those parents. We hold our own breaths often enough.
The most frustrating thing about school? I just wish that we could observe Sammi in her classroom environment more. Last year we dropped off and picked up Samantha from her classroom. This year we have to say goodbye at the front door of the school in the morning, and wait for her to be brought out with her class in the afternoon. I totally understand security measures that need to be in place, and the fact that there's far less chaos when the parents aren't buzzing around in the mix of things, but we really relied on that extra few moments of communication and connection with her teacher and her aide last year, and now we get so much less feedback on a daily basis. Sure, we get a behavior chart with notes on it each day, but there's really nothing like 1:1 interactions. It felt good to have the Parent Teacher meeting yesterday to quell the insecurities we often feel about the teacher we just don't know much, if anything, about, in a classroom we've only ever seen, perhaps, once. Once again we were able to feel that comfort that had been missing, much like the daily visits we'd lost.