Special Education Monthly Update
Celebrations and Connections
This month we are celebrating joy and the truly genuine care that each of you have for the students that you serve. We've included some resources here to inspire joy in the month of March. Enjoy!
Want to watch some TED Talks?
How do you feel about Podcasts?
This Teacher Life
Shaping the Future
The Creative Classroom
The Cult of Pedagogy
If you have celebrations or resources that you would like to share over the coming months, please email Melissa at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!
Data-Based Individualization (DBI)
When students have persistent academic difficulties and have not been responsive to targeted (or Tier 2) intervention, we must increase the intensity of the interventions. Intensive intervention is characterized by increased time, smaller group size, and/or more individualized instruction. Last month we shared the first of two modules from the IRIS Center at Vanderbilt University. That module (Intensive Intervention, Part 1) describes the process for intensifying interventions.
Part 2, Collecting and Analyzing Data for DBI, provides information on making data-based instructional decisions for intensive intervention.
To learn more about the two primary ways that teachers collect data in the DBI process, see this page.
1. Documented evidence of effectiveness (see NCII for evidence-based intervention tools).
2. Ecological perspective - Views student problems as arising not only from child characteristics but also from mismatches in classroom management and instructional practices.
3. Alignment with function of the problem - Use interventions that target the specific problem.
4. A proactive approach to the problem - prevention
5. Classwide application - individualized intervention embedded in the context of class/school-wide instructional and behavioral system.
6. Easily taught through a consultation format - can be easily taught to teachers and support staff.
7. Capable of being implemented using regular classroom resources- enhancing the capacity of general education teachers to meet the needs of diverse learners.
8. Capable of being evaluated by reliable, valid, and practical methods- interventions that target concrete, observable student behaviors.
Video Series: Why Inclusion
Watch this three-part video series on inclusion for early education by STEMIE.
Special Educators as Leaders:
"A special educator's responsibilities in the areas of coordinating services and instruction for
students with disabilities and supervising the work of paraprofessionals require skills in
management...the teachers who are successful managers and leaders recognize and fulfill the responsibilities inherent in being a teacher and also contribute to their school community
1. advocating for their students and inclusion of all students
2. demonstrating excellence in their work, hence leading by example
3. developing a vision for their students and an inclusive school
4. using this vision to motivate themselves and others to continue to improve practices
The Inclusion Toolbox by Kurth and Gross, 2015
High Leverage Practices for Inclusive Classrooms, Council for Exceptional Children, 2019
Practice 3: Collaborate with Families to Support Student Learning and Secure Needed Services
Family-School Partnership Principles Applied to Communication with Families:
1. Communication - Teachers create spaces for families to voice their expectations,
preferences, and needs.
2. Professional Competence - Teachers continue to improve their skills and knowledge to
meaningfully involve families.
3. Respect - Teachers value family members' expectations and role they play with their
4. Commitment - Teachers are dedicated to empowering families and addressing families'
strengths and expectations.
5. Equality - Teachers empower family members to be equal partners.
6. Advocacy - Teachers take action to support families in meeting their needs.
7. Trust - Teachers act in the best interests of families.
Practice 4: Use Multiple Sources of Information to Develop a Comprehensive Understanding of a Student's Strengths and Needs
This practice relates to using formal and informal assessments to develop a "comprehensive learner profile." Table 4.2 on page 61 provides an example of a Comprehensive Student Learning Profile Checklist which is linked here.
Writing Individualized Education Programs gives us the opportunity to work together with teams to set learning goals, clarify services, and ultimately improve educational results for students with disabilities.
The following forms are provided by OSPI to guide you as you complete Evaluations and IEPs, and give you the opportunity to check for compliance and content:
Evaluation and IEP Reminders:
- A draft Evaluation or IEP should be made available to the parent prior to the meeting
- Evaluations and IEPs must be completed with a finalized draft and PWN sent to the parents within 2-3 days of the IEP
- Upon completion, notify Betsy/Tracy via email and send any pertinent signature pages or attachments
- Parents should receive the finalized Evaluation or IEP 2-3 days after the meeting
Social Emotional Learning
The Circle of Courage
The circle of courage is a positive model of youth development based on the universal
principal that to be emotionally healthy all youth need a sense of belonging, mastery,
independence and generosity. This unique model integrates the cultural wisdom and
techniques of Native American and First Nation communities and the findings of modern
youth development research. The circle of courage represents the universal growth needs of
all children and applies to youth across all cultural contexts. The four directions of belonging,
mastery, independence, and generosity provide the foundations for psychological resilience
and positive youth development. (starr.org).
Belonging: "The big concept here is that there is no "other." Instead, everyone is part of our tribe. Every person is surrounded by relationships of love and trust in order to meet the very human need of belonging."
Mastery: "Mastery can occur only when belonging is satisfied."
Independence: "Inner discipline is the goal. Therefore children are encouraged to make decisions, solve problems, and show personal responsibility. The role of the adult is to nurture, give feedback, and teach values."
Generosity: "...to encourage and support children to make positive contributions to another human life. Again, this preeminent value cannot be discovered without a sense of belonging."
(p. 57-58, From Behaving to Belonging, 2020)
See also: Reclaiming Youth at Risk by Brendtro, Brokenleg, and Van Bockern, 2009 and From Behaving to Belonging by Causten and Macleod, 2020.
Prompting Ladder (pdf) - Paras and teachers alike can benefit from these free resources!
Download this document and use as a visual reminder as you support student independence.
Start on the bottom rung of the Prompting Ladder (the least intrusive supports) and move up only if necessary. Return back down as quickly as possible!
(Thanks to InclusiveSchooling.com for these resources)
Paraeducator Core Competencies
Washington has identified 14 core competencies for special education paraeducators. We will highlight two of these each month and offer resources to support you as you team together.
1. understanding the value of providing instructional and other direct services to all children and youth with disabilities;
2. understanding the roles and responsibilities of certificated/licensed staff and paraeducators;
Possible Paraeducator Roles in the Classroom document - revise as needed to fit your programming and review with your team.
Paraeducator Effectiveness Self-Check document - an opportunity to self-assess and discuss together