Julie's Journal One

What we know about students

What information does a teacher have about a student with special needs before the first day of class?

As a classroom teacher there is very little information that I receive prior to the end of the first week of school about my students with special needs. I do have access to go look in their files in the guidance office.

As a special education teacher there is much more information I will have about the students. During the summer our special education teachers get together to pass information to one another about students who are moving to a new school (elementary to middle or middle to high) or if they are moving case managers. This also happens when there is a new special education teacher, they have time to meet with the old teacher to get some information. In addition to this information there are copies of the current and previous IEP's and testing information in the students file.

What are the sources of information?

Information about the student comes from their file, previous IEP, previous teachers, meeting with previous case manager (if moving from Elementary to Middle, Middle to High School, or if a new teacher is entering classroom), and Skyward (our grading system).

How much does the teacher rely upon the comments of other teachers when getting to know new students?

There are some teachers that rely heavily on what other teachers say about students, I try not to be one of those. I know that students behave differently in different situations, just like children behave differently at home than they do at school. I tend to listen to what other teachers say has worked for them or what has made it more difficult for them in their classroom. I have noticed that many students that other teachers find difficult I have very few problems with because I try to not have an opinion about them before I know them.

If you could only know only 2 specific characteristics of each pupil at the end of the first day of class, what would these be? Why?

If I could only know two things about my students at the end of the first day I would want to know what they like and what they want to do when they are older.

By knowing what students like it can give you a topic of conversation or a possible topic for assignments. In addition knowing what the student wants out of their life it can be used as a motivator when they are struggling with an assignment. It is also very important for preparing the transition portion of the IEP.

What information is most useful for managing pupils in the classroom?

It is most important to know what things upset the student and what can calm them down. As a teacher there are things that we can regularly do that can make some students upset. For example I have a student who will shut down if you stand by them while they are working, if I didn't know this I would have a very hard time with the student because that is something I do often. I have to stand in a different row or try to help them remotely from my computer. Knowing this basic information can help the classroom run smoothly because as a teacher you will not do things to upset your students and if they are upset you will know what to do to help them calm down.