Collaboration Presentation

Collaborating with Families and Colleagues

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Background: Meet RJ

I can remember the day as if it was yesterday. My school phone rang and it was Mrs. G., our school principal. "Mrs. Sais", she said, "you are going to have another student in your class and I would like you to call her mother." I agreed but asked if there was a problem. She stated that there was not a problem but she was probably special needs with vision discrepancies. I phoned the mother and the rest is history.

RJ was born January 13, 2008 she was born at 25 weeks. She was 11 inches long and weighed 17 oz. The journey was a long one of ups and downs. Now 5 years later and a proud NICU graduate, we are constantly reminded how blessed we are to have a little girl who fought so hard to only have a few reminders of her struggles.

-RJ's mother

Glitter and Fairies

First 2 months in school

Since I am a General Education teacher my collaboration began first with RJ. I placed her in close proximity to my desk, close to the SmartBoard. She struggled tremendously. She would get frustrated and cry or run into the closet. I left many messages for mom and/or dad but would never get a response back. I made phone calls, left messages, but again no return acknowledgement.

One and only meeting with both RJ's mom and dad

One day after school, mom and dad come into my room to get RJ's pink glittery jacket. I finally got to meet with them! We made small talk, then I mentioned that I had been trying to get a hold of them to discuss RJ's academics. I told them she was struggling, only knows 3 of her letters, can only write the R and j in her name, cannot sit still and becomes very emotional, runs away and is usually by herself.

Dad jokes around and states that as long as she knows some letters, she should be able to go to first grade and not be held back, right? He was held back in third grade and stated it was hard for him, so he didn't want the same for her. I suggested maybe having some testing done or maybe have someone from Special Ed come and observe her to maybe give us some suggestions to use with RJ. Dad's response was, "absolutely not!" He said, "she is not lacking, she is a kid." What in the world was he talking about?

I could see the hurt in mom's eyes but knew that I needed to keep the peace and suggested that we talk about this at a later time. We scheduled our meeting for the following friday.

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Collaboration with Family

Discussions with Mom

I could hardly wait to meet with RJ's parents to discuss my concerns. I had data showing her struggles in reading, writing, math and even socializing. But, to no avail, mom came in by herself. She began by telling me that she and RJ's father were separated and filing for divorce. She asked me not to say anything since RJ and her brothers (2) and sister did not know yet. I voiced my academic concerns and RJ's mom admitted that those are the things she was seeing at home. RJ is the 2nd of four children and her younger sister who was 4 years old could already write her letters and recognize some words. I reassured her that my first concern was to make sure RJ was learning at school and we could work on her academics together.

Meeting with Special Education Team

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In January the Special Education team came in and observed RJ, did a few assessments and found that she should have a vision therapist come in and work with her a few days a week and see how that would go. SW worked with RJ for 2 months, went with RJ and her mom to eye appointments and even to her pediatrician. She was eventually diagnosed ADD and was medicated. Amazingly enough, RJ began to take baby steps and was identifying more letters, tried writing and had friends to play and sit with.

RJ's vision tests shows that she was almost blind in one eye and 20/40 in the other eye. She did not qualify at that time for Special Ed but we placed her on 504. We had a resource teacher come to my room to work with her for 15 minutes a day 3 days a week.

IEP Team Participation

Finally qualified!!!

Through more assessments, our vision therapist leaving our school and more data, RJ finally qualified for Special Ed, but not until April 25th. We met with mom the following week to discuss her options for services. Our IEP meeting was pleasant and we all came to an agreement that RJ would receive services for reading, writing and math. She was taken out of my room once in the morning and once in the afternoon for about 30 minutes each. As her teacher, I was excited that she was getting help but disappointed that she was not receiving services until the end of the year. She made great strides by mid may but was not where she should have been by that time of year. Since she is in kindergarten, we discussed with mom about thinking seriously about holding her back so she could grow academically. Well guess what? RJ has a brother in first grade that was struggling as well and should be held back as well. To throw another wrench in the pot, RJ's sister AJ would be coming to kindergarten. So somehow two of the children were going to have to be together either in first grade or in kindergarten. Mom decided it would be best to hold back both children. So RJ and AJ would be together in Kindergarten and CJ would repeat First Grade.

Well . . . guess what?

We all worked so hard to have RJ enjoy school and learn what it meant to be in school and to actually set and accomplish goals. The last week of school, our principal found out that the LJ family actually lives outside of the school boundary lines and was asked not to come back to our school this next year.