Saturday, September 13, 2008

"We do not self-contain children"

"We do not self-contain children" When I interviewed for my current job, I was told this. Firmly. I had mentioned that I wanted a self-contained room.

What I'm finding is that this school operates like my last middle school. There are no self-contained rooms. Just resource rooms.

In a resource room, all kids who need extra help are in a class together.

Think about this for a minute. With No Child Left Behind, the very lifeblood of the school is dependent on whether or not the kids with mild and high incidence disabilities pass a test. So you might have 8 kids in a resource math class. Five of them will have some sort of learning disability or mild intellectual disability. And you have to make them proficient in grade level math by the end of the year or all hell breaks loose. And then three of those kids have low-incidence disabilities -- non-verbal, severe multi-handicapped, etc. They are happy to sort color bears.

Who are you going to teach to?

I am convinced that the resource room is an evil when it's used this way for kids with severe disabilities. I'm making a schedule now and one of my kid is in this "resource room" for all of his classes except one academic class (which he is in another resource room with the same two kids he's spent all day with) and his art/p.e. etc for two periods. This is the worst of inclusion and self-containment all rolled up into one.

If it were a true self-contained class, then the teachers could tailor the instruction to the severely disabled kids instead of having to teach them as well as the kids with mild disabilities. If it were inclusion, the kids with severe disabilities could benefit from participating in the classroom environment. As it stands now, the resource room doesn't seem to do "my" kids any good.

It was like that in the first middle school I taught in and it's like that here.

And in my intro to special ed class, the instructor drew a diagram that presented the resource room as a less-restrictive option than any other on the list. It's the most restrictive and the least tailored to the needs of severely disabled kids.


Why are LABELS more important than what we are actually doing? If you are in a room all day with the two other kids in your grade level who have similar disabilities, you are self-contained, even if other kids come in and out all the time.

One day... I will take over the universe and end this crap.

As of now, I need to do a visual schedule for a kid who doesn't really change classes. At all.

**Note: said professor was put in his place by a blind student, who challenged his idea of "residential school" being the "place where you have to lock em up." She brought up that her local school was very restrictive because no one knew how to teach her and to be in an environment where everyone knew how Braille was liberating.

And this is not to do/say anything against the brilliant resource teachers I've seen at work. It's a system that sets kids with low-incidence disabilities up for failure. And their teachers. And their peers.