Open Thread: Square Pegs

Aside from serving as one of two Assistant Principals in my high school, I am also lucky enough to supervise three departments, one of which is Special Education.  I do not manage IEPs, conduct testing, or get involved in the legalities of Special Education.  I merely manage the day to day happenings with the Special Education staff, work with the scheduling and budgets, and assist the Director of Special Services and Child Study Team.  I wish I had time to do more.

I have worked in three school districts in the last eight years.  I am embarrassed to say that the Special Education programs have all been rather disappointing.  I've seen watered down curriculum where handouts and worksheets are the standard of classroom practice.  I've had conversations with Special Education teachers and heard some sad educational philosophies regarding Special Education students.  I've seen and heard some unethical things in the highest offices of public school districts - things that would cost people their careers.

On the flip side, I've met (and currently work with) some of the best people for Special Education students; they are supportive, encouraging, and serve as life coaches and mentors for their students.  They desire to be the best teachers they can for their kids.  I've also been blessed to have strong school leadership role models in my life who keep me hopeful and guide me through the rough waters of Special Education law, practices, and education. 

Since this is my last post for Dr. McLeod, I thought it would be helpful and intriguing for all of us if we left an open thread (a la Beyond School's popular one).  Open threads seems to me to be chock full of good advice, insight, and some remarkable stories.

So here it goes...

What practices have you seen in your experiences with Special Education?  You can discuss a Special Education program that is worthy of publicity, or a teaching practice that deserves attention.  If you are tempted to expose the troubles of Special Education, you may - but I would like this post to be helpful, not critical.  So please, with a criticism, offer a potential solution.

It's been an honor to share with all of you. Mike Parent, Guest Blogger

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