Our teachers and principal are working on assembling next year’s classes. They’ll have them done by May. At the PTO meeting earlier this month the principal explained the process for class formulation. The teachers work together and assemble classes in groups. They look at the different needs and abilities of all the students and put them together. I can only imagine the drama that takes place when trying to create the classes.
Our district does not allow for teacher requests. Instead, we are encouraged to write the principal a letter with information about our child that we believe may help in class assignment. The teachers do their part, and then the principal assigns teachers based on the classes and parent and teacher input.
We, as parents, are permitted to ask for our child to be separated from other students if there is a known issue. Last year, I asked that Jake be separated from a girl who was a best friend, but who also took over the reigns too much and bossed him around. That request was met. This year, I asked that he not be put in a classroom with a boy who I know has been bullying several of the kids, including Jake.
Last year we had a meeting at the end of April to talk about Jake’s progress since his updated district evaluation and new supports were put into place. I never mentioned a teacher, specifically, but I was very clear about the type of teacher that Jake would benefit from…and they knew exactly who I meant…and he did get his fabulous teacher. His third grade teacher will hence be the benchmark for fantabulous teachers to hit. She has been phenomenal.
How phenomenal? Let me list the ways….Reads and understands the accommodations in the IEP–check! Works with the resource teacher to make sure Jake is appropriately challenged and kept from frustration–check! Works with the social worker, speech therapist, and OT to make sure Jake is getting a fair shake at education–check! Communicates frequently with the rest of the team AND Jake’s parents (that would be me & Hubz)–check! Asks questions about Jake and how he’s doing–check! She has been a DREAM!
Earlier this week she stopped me outside of the school. She wanted to confirm something that she couldn’t find in the IEP…during Jake’s annual IEP meeting in October, we had discussed how smoothly his transition into 3rd grade had been. It had been so stress-free and comfortable. He didn’t take forever to get acclimated to the new grade. It was smooth. We all acknowledged that a huge part was that he knew who his teacher was and where her classroom was and that took that anxiety out of the picture. We all discussed, and noted, that for subsequent years, we could have Jake meet his new teacher at the end of the school year, visit the classroom, and get comfortable.
When I met with Jake’s teacher and resource teacher in January/February/March to discuss the behavior and coping struggles Jake was having at that time, we discussed that again..and it was implied that they would meet with his new teacher to give her (all the 4th grade teachers are women) some insight into Jake…and we talked about how nice it would be for Jake to meet her before the new school year..and how that would help him transition in August.
Apparently during class formation meetings, though, there was some push back on this agreement. It wasn’t written into the IEP…and yet, 4 different people who were in the meeting had it in their meeting notes. Jake’s teacher said she KNEW we had discussed it, and that she and Jake’s resource teacher felt it was imperative for Jake to meet his 4th grade teacher ahead of time. I agreed.
I ran home and poured over the IEP. It wasn’t in there. FRACK!!! But, I had my meeting notes, and there it was…in my notes, “Follow up with team in spring re: Jake meeting new teacher.” I had circled it and starred it. Obviously that was important. So, I sent an email to Jake’s resource teacher and cc’d his homeroom teacher. I was more than willing to request a meeting to get this formally into the IEP via an amendment.
Both responded back within about an hour…the principal was going to grant the request. Jake could meet his teacher the week of Memorial Day, visit the classroom, and stop by a few times before the end of the year…so he could get comfortable. Jake’s resource teacher and I discussed adding it as an amendment, though, so that it would be in there IN WRITING.
We are lucky. We are blessed. Don’t think for a second that I am not grateful for this allowance. I know sooooo many schools where this wouldn’t be allowed to happen. I am eternally grateful for our son’s team…for 3 of them who were willing to go to battle for Jake so that he could start 4th grade on the right foot. You bet your bottom that when we do Teacher Appreciation Week in 2 weeks they’ll be getting the works from the House of Hope family!!!