Monday, October 26, 2009

Not What We Expected

I'm back from the meeting.  It was good, but turned out differently than we thought.

The meeting went fairly well.   I started by talking about what we started this process and the events that led our principal to arrange for me to visit the classroom.  I spoke about the classroom and how it appeared to be exactly what I would want in a class for Jason.  Then his teacher and intervention specialist each spoke about the progress he is making and concerns they have.  As it turns out, things are settling down for him a bit.  He's maintaining very well in Science and Social Studies and he has been making progress in reading.  Math, spelling and writing continue to be his weakest areas.

Finally, Mrs. Fox, our principal, asked the teacher of the learning center how she felt Jason would fit in her class academically.  She had concerns because transitions are difficult for Jason and her students still have them. Then she noted that Jason is very advanced compared to her students in language arts.  Basically, Jason is working at a second grade level and her students at a kindergarten level.  She was concerned that with the disparity in Jason's learning and her students that it would not be a good fit.

This would be where I cried.

Mrs. Fox asked me what I thought and it was so very apparent at this point that the option I thought was perfect, wasn't.  I didn't sob, but I did choke up and get teary while explaining that I agreed that the learning center wasn't likely the best place for him, but I knew he needed more and had maxed out on his intervention minutes.  Jason's a unique kid as far as special education.  I was concerned because while I understood the learning center was not a good fit, I didn't like that he spent time in the class lost, confused and not really doing anything.

Then Mrs. Fox noted that she spoke with the Director of Special Education about Jason.  She wanted to explore all options before the meeting today.  Apparently, the 90 minutes is more of a guideline instead of a rule to prevent schools from creating learning centers instead of using those already  in district.  Basically, we can give Jason more time with intervention and make things work where we are.

Basically, we looked through Jason's entire day and noted times when he was in the class and the class was doing something he wasn't  We added 15 minutes of time to his math goals and he'll be taking part in a reading program for intervention level kids called Project M.O.R.E. for about 30 minutes a day.  This may take a few weeks to get everyone trained and schedule, so in the meantime he will stay with his intervention specialist for an extra 15 minutes doing independent work before returning to the class to  work on his keyboarding until lunch.

The only other time he is lost in class is during the reading aloud time and that is because he has his speech and occupational therapy interventions then.  We came up with a plan that we would read the book his teacher is reading in class at night before bed.  This was he would still hear the story and know the characters so he could join in the discussion despite missing parts of the time for his therapies.

Socially, Jason still struggles, but he in involved in a couple of lunchtime social groups.  Also, I know the staff at the school are aware of his challenges in this area and keep a close eye on him during lunch and recess.  I'm trying to make things happen on my end with that and Mrs. Fox is looking into a buddy for him from the 6th grade.

In all it was a very positive meeting.  Not having the massive transition will be a good thing and if we can make things work, I think Jason will be happier.  Also, I love his team and that he has people there who KNOW him so well and want whats best for him.


Kelly said...

Both happy and sad for you. Wish there were some magic, and easy, answers.

Know that all of your are loved, and we love Jason just the way he is.

Jenny said...

Actually, Kelly, it's not bad. I am excited about what the school is doing. But you are right, there are no easy answers.

One thing we talked about yesterday was how we were going to have to think outside the box in terms of typical special education. He's a non-typical kid amongst the non-typical kids.

And Jason does like to keep us challenged, that's for sure.