Saturday, August 31, 2013

Back to School, IEP review, one day at a time...

We've successfully made it through the first couple weeks of school. It has been a tough transition for Trip and me, but the kids are doing great! It is hard to believe that Harding is in 1st grade. It is very different from Kindergarten, with much less free play time scheduled into the day and more homework as well. Harding was super excited that Carlitos (one of his favorite buddies from his class last year) was also in Mrs. Braxton's class. He's also happy that he gets to get hugs from his kindergarten teacher, Mrs. McClure every day during lunch time.

Harding at "Meet the Teacher" with his teacher, Mrs. Braxton and her assistant, Ms. Lassiter (and a random girl in the background who I could not get to move out of the way)

And here he is during drop-off on his first day of first grade. 
 We were disappointed (okay maybe even devastated) to find out that one of Shelby's excellent teachers from last year, Ms. Kathy (who was also a certified teacher of the vision impaired) had been assigned to a different school this year because of budgeting and reorganization of the special education preschool program in our county. They replaced Ms. Kathy in the classroom with a Head Start teacher assistant. Trip and I immediately requested an IEP review meeting because even though there are 3 adults in the classroom, like last year, Shelby would no longer have a special ed teacher with VI certification with her on a daily basis. Shelby's vision impairment affects every part of her learning and development, so Trip and I were concerned and eager to adjust Shelby's IEP and clearly define how she would receive VI and Special Education services with this reorganization. The meeting was on Wednesday afternoon and was incredibly stressful for us. However, we argued our case and came up with a compromise that will be okay. We increased the required VI time on Shelby's IEP and we also increased her Special Education time. So now Shelby will have a vision teacher in the classroom to work with her and the teachers twice a week for about 30 minutes and she'll have a special education preschool teacher in the classroom with her twice a week for another 30 minutes. This is not as ideal a situation as she had last year, but I think it will work. The good news is that her other teacher from last year, Ms. Rebecca is still with her, as well as the teacher assistant from last year, Ms. Maria. Trip and I just really want Shelby to continue to make gains this school year so that she will be as prepared for kindergarten next year as possible. Advocating for services for your child is a tricky thing, but I think we handled it well and we're glad the IEP team was responsive to making changes.

Shelby with Ms. Rebecca on the first day of school
And I'm back to school now as well. This is an interesting school year for me. I have moved to 8th grade social studies and am learning a new curriculum. So far, this has been a very positive change, and the Political Science major in me is very excited to be teaching U.S. History. I'm also taking two classes for my school counseling graduate program. One of them is my practicum class, where I work in a school one day a week. I am so excited to have the opportunity to do this at Harding and Shelby's school! Even though I am busy all day there, I get to bring them to school on that day and it just feels good being in the same building with them. I'm also taking group counseling and will be leading a group of 5th graders in October for this class. Both these classes are experiential in nature and very intense. I've quit Facebook to help myself stay focused and am just taking it one day at a time. As always, I couldn't do it without my husband, who happens to be a rock star father. We're all very glad that I am getting closer finishing my master's degree!

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