Friday, October 26, 2012

What's your label?

As I travel back in my time machine to the late 1990's, I vividly remember going to various schools in upper Indiana.  I taught lessons, observed, and met with many educators.  Essentially I was learning how to become a teacher.  During my observations, practicums, and classes we discussed best practices, assessments, lesson planning and classroom management.  I felt very fortunate to be in several rural and urban schools.  My time spent in inner city Fort Wayne and small city Fremont was very different, but very beneficial.

I'm not sure any of that training could have prepared me for IEP's that discussed ADHD, ADD, OHI, ODD, ECDD, ASD, LD, CP, DD, EI, ESL, LEP, MS, OCD, and SLI.  Over the last few years student labels have increased bringing me to do a bit of digging.  As I researched special education, I found that in 1977 the number of special education students in the United States was 3,694. As of 2009 that number was 6,483.  The largest jump in Special Education referrals came between 1991 and 1999. 

The reason I bring this to you is this:  Labels are here to stay. I for one think labels are abundant and excessive, but I have to work with all students no matter what the label.  We have all had conversations with parents who eagerly pursue help and diagnoses, yet other parents often say, "I do not want my child to have a label!"  As an educator this is really challenging. I'm not a doctor and I'm not a med pusher, what I am is someone that wants to help students be successful.  I'm someone that wants to help teachers create the best classroom atmosphere for learning. 

My approach with parents is based on being a fellow parent and  also an educator.  On one hand, I try to relate to parents and let them know some struggles I've had with my own children.  On the other hand, as an educator, I want to help all students succeed.  I feel it is my responsibility to inform parents that this is what I see and this is the concern.  I will never give a prescription, but I will inform parents of my observations and findings.  These conversations will not be easy, but we are the professionals and we must be willing to have the difficult conversations with them.

I will continue to create AIP's, 504's, and IDP's.  I will continue to participate in IEP's and at some point I won't be surprised if most students have an individualized plan.  Remember, labels are here to stay, and some people embrace them and others despise them.  It is our job to educate, inform, and service all kids.  No matter what the label or the acronym, all students need us.

On a funny note, could you create your own acronym for this year's class?

Great Things Noticed or Heard:

*  Wonderful use of Salsa words in Mrs. Gibbs classroom, no more Itsy Bitsy Spider, it is now the Diminutive Arachnid!  Love the use of the thesaurus!
*  Student Prezi's in 4th grade are blowing me away!  I told Joey he needs to teach me and he then said, "I could but Josh B. is really good.  You might want to ask him."
*  Mrs. Kline is loving her new Smart Board! 
*  2nd and 3rd grade lunch are big fans of the music group One Direction!  Nice to hear the students in unison.
*  1st grade loved gym!  They played Trick, Trick, Treat instead of Duck, Duck, Goose.  Nice way to change things up Mr. Holton!
*  Learned many new Spanish words this week, and enjoyed the brief history of Dia de los Muertos.
*  Young Fivers are very cute while trying hard to keep a secret...but they really want to tell me.
*  I received a birthday cupcake on Thursday, and the little helper said to me, "Mr. Gilpin, if you keep eating birthday cupcakes you might get fat!" 
*  Enjoyed reading student blogs in 4th grade!  Also enjoyed reading Mrs. Gibbs blog.  You are setting a wonderful example to your students...keep it up!
*  The temperature dropped thirty degrees over night, and Matt V. made sure to tell me that summer is over. 
*  I enjoyed watching Mrs. Soper's class create Monster Pizzas.
*  Trinity told me I was a good brainstormer.
*  Lucas I. asked me to give every student a nickname.  I called him Disney and he said no, I'm the Flash.  I told him people don't get to create their own nicknames : )
*  Thank you to Mrs. Walz for the new flowers; the little things are very much appreciated.
*  Perfect timing on my new salsa. Thank you Merrie Jo!

Things to take note of:

*  We must get in 3 more fire drills before Winter break.
*  We must get in a Lockdown before Thanksgiving.
*  Next week is a four day week.
*  Next week is the end of the first quarter.
*  Third grade goes to Jiffy next week.
*  Music rotation begins at Warner!

Next Week at a Glance:

Monday, October 29th:  3rd grade to Jiffy
Monday, October 29th:  Happy Birthday Mrs. Walz
Tuesday, October 30th:  4pm - 5pm Warner String Team
Wednesday, October 31st:  Grades 3-5 morning assembly
Wednesday, October 31st:  Halloween, Parade begins at 2pm.
Thursday, November 1st: 3:45pm first after school Art class
Friday, November 2nd:  PD for teachers.  More information will be sent to you.

Articles worth your time:

Videos Worth Watching:

This is fantastic!  Synchronized, current, and well done. (3 min)

Amy Cuddy on the significance of body language (21 min)  (Very insightful)

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