Friday, April 3, 2009

The Parent/Teacher Conferences

In the disaster that was this past week, we had several events happen upon which I should elaborate. For today, I will cover Rachel and Samantha's Parent/Teacher conferences.

Rachel's was first. I met with Mrs. Orlando for a few minutes while we waited for the special education entourage to make their way down to the multiage wing. She told me what a delight Rachel is in the classroom and how she always wants to help. Mrs. Orlando described how last Thursday she had announced to the class that she would be absent on the next day and discussed appropriate class behavior. A little while into the day, Rachel approached her and asked, "When you're absent, which kids should I keep an eye on for you?" I'd say she's feeling comfortable in the classroom!

Once the special education teachers arrived we sat down to discuss Rachel's progress. All are in agreement that there has been some really great gains in many areas. She still has things to improve and work on and some areas are slow in coming along, but there are signs of progress, even in those areas. Her speech and language has improved by leaps and her math has finally seemed to really click. Her reading and spelling are making good gains, while her gross and fine motor are still not quite there. All the teachers were quick to tell me how sweet Rachel is, how she takes direction well, and is a hard worker.

Once Mrs. Orlando and I were alone again, we discussed third grade for Rachel. It turns out the upper multiage classrooms are run differently than the lower multiage. Rachel will the majority of her time with one of the teachers for her major subjects instead of switching teachers after several weeks. This means that Rachel and Samantha will be in the classroom together next year. Everyone agrees it shouldn't be a problem as Rachel and Samantha are as thick as thieves the majority of the time and when they aren't together, they still get along well.

Samantha's conference was next. I was ready to push for services and testing as I believe Samantha's struggles, while not as severe as Rachel's, exist because of some of the same issues as Rachel. Samantha's teacher explained that she had already had a meeting regarding Samantha and getting some interventions put into place for her. At that point Samantha's reading support teacher came into the room. She showed how Samantha can read, but she adds in or takes out extra words as she reads. The words she adds or subtracts do not change the meaning of the story but they are not the words on the page. (I call it editing!)

She has excellent comprehension and if we ignored the ommissions and additions, she would be reading on a much higher level. The reading teacher was very much supportive of my insistence that we not wait for the intervention process. It would take too long and we would be into late May before we could even try to get testing done (they won't test that late anyway, which puts us back at the beginning of the process again in September). She even made some suggestions to Samantha's teacher that she should send an email to the OT/PT teacher for an unofficial classroom observation of Samantha. The results of which could be used at the next meeting to advocate for additional testing. I announced that I wanted to be notified of that meeting and would be in attendance. The reading specialist advocated for the classroom teacher to put in the request for the meeting immediately so as to get a date in mid April rather than late May. I am hoping Samantha's teacher has done all those things. I will be sending an email on Monday morning to ask just that question. The meeting ended and I again thanked Samantha's teacher for her patience, telling her I understand how difficult Samantha can be.

I am so thankful that my girls have teachers who are diligent and supportive of them and our family. I am thankful for teachers who even after they have retired, are still advocating for and supporting us.
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