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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Think About it Thursday-- Labels

Nobody likes labels. Labels always bring with them certain connotations. As a special education teacher, I have personally struggled with what to call myself and I often find myself tailoring it to meet the needs of my audience (is it a fellow educator or a parent of an intervention student?). Some of the "labels" I have given myself over the past 5 years include:

Intervention Specialist
Special Education Teacher
Cross-Categorical Teacher
Multiple Disabilities/MD Teacher
Resource Room Teacher

Honestly, it doesn't matter to me what label I am given as long as I get to work with my special kiddos each day! 

However, labels can be a very tricky thing when it comes to my students. Typically in special ed, a label defines all the things that child cannot do... He cannot see. She cannot hear. They cannot sit still.

Since they have moved all of our "MD" classrooms (which were labeled Cross-Categorical classrooms until they were conveniently relabeled this year for the move), they have began to restrict which students can receive our services. In the past, I have worked with a wide variety of kids and I have LOVED it! Kids with more severe needs were with me all day in the self-contained classroom (they would be included for specials and lunch/recess) while kids who just needed intensive academic intervention would come to my room for pull out. It is challenging for sure but it provides my students with experiences with peers with a range of abilities. It has allowed my kids with lower IQs the opportunity to see skills modeled by peers with higher IQs and it has allowed my kids with higher IQs the opportunity to be leaders (which they would have not been able to do in the typical classroom). But now they want to limit us to only serving students with the educational disability of "Multiple Disabilities". In my classroom of 9 last year only 4 of them were labeled MD. The rest had a CD or Autism label. Of my kids labeled CD and Autism, half of them were non-verbal and all of them were 1-2 years (if not more) behind grade level. Where are these kids supposed to go? We have ISs in the other buildings but they are generally doing all inclusion. Additionally, of my kids with an MD label, half of them were only with me for pull out and not all day.

Fellow special educators and parent readers, how does your district meet the needs of identified students? Do you like the system your district uses?

3 comments:

Sarah said...

There are so many labels, and I find that even though my son has a ton, he is amazing! Love him so much and the only label I really like for him is SON!! Have a great day!

The Gift of Autism said...

I am in a large district in western Canada. As part of team, I teach a group of special kids in a mainstream school. All of our students have an ASD or related diagnosis. To be part of our class students must have significant communication and social delays and most have high sensory needs as well. We mostly work on our own, but we work in as much integration and reverse integration as possible so that our students can experience being with many different kinds of people. When I started with this program just over 6 years ago, it was only available at 2 schools in our district. It is now in 7 elementary schools, 2 junior highs and 1 senior high.

We have 6 students in each class with a teacher, 2 assistants and a part time meal supervisor. This way we can spend a lot of time with each student. We work mostly on social and communication skills. We also do a lot of deskwork. For some students this starts with just being at the table and sitting still for a minute or two and then eventually moving on to simple matching or puzzle skills. For other students, desk work looks like a lot like what other kids their age would do - except that our guys need a lot more help to stay on task.

Kim @ Mrs. Hs Resource Room said...

It is true that we put labels on everyone and everything. It would be great to live without labels!

I really enjoy reading your blog! I am also a special education teacher and fellow blogger! Head on over and check out my blog!

Your newest follower,

Kim
Mrs. H's Resource Room