6/4/14: Topics of discussion included Department goal for next year, task forces begun last May/June with no follow through, and overall behavior level of students (especially 8th graders). Regarding department goal, review of assessment protocols, Child Find process, C.U.E. report ratings, and teacher initiated referrals was strongly suggested. Regarding follow through, backward planning must be employed to bring tasks to completion. Regarding behaviors, more 'full staff' discussions on concerns before they mushroom is advised to offset attitude shift toward disrespect. Other points of interest were 2, unstapled, signed copies of Progress reports due by last day (sooner if possible), Student Support Cards updated and new ones created for transition meetings (if possible), and Summative Evaluation reports.
5/28/14: We discussed how testing was going, as we are now in our 4th consecutive week with one more to go. Needed adjustments in grouping and coverage were determined, including use of Math reference sheets for NWEA testing. It was recognized that this was not consistently done in previous testing sessions but should be implemented going forward. There was also concern raised about missed services because of schedule changes during the testing weeks. This is an on-going concern with no easy answer. Teachers are doing what they can to adjust and provide services, but it is challenging. The last half of the meeting was dedicated to discussion regarding new discipline laws and their implementation for special needs students as of July 1, 2014. Michael shared information gathered at the COP workshop he attended last Thursday in Hudson. He has shared forms and protocols with Jed, who will distribute materials appropriately.
5/21/14: Department members participated in an audio conference: 'Implementing Common Core in Special Education.' New awareness was raised about writing IEP goals, using data evidence, and collaborating with regular educators for differentiated instruction and individualized goals for IEP students. Again surfacing was the question about making an IEP goal a student's MAP goal? This needs further department discussion and recommendation to the full MCCPS staff.
5/7/14: Time was spent by department members discussing self-evaluations for special education teachers, what can be used as evidence, and gathering document/information for portfolios. The discussion included reflection on the title of the special education teacher: Special Educator? Inclusion Teacher? Teacher? A choice should be made, shared with the whole staff, and consistently used in documents, reports, and common language used at MCCPS. Another question surfaced again about student perception of room being called by regular education teachers' names. A final conversation point was in regard to the Dyslexia presentation the previous evening at MCCPS. Consideration was given to presenting this to the whole staff at a PD session in the next school year.
4/30/14: Follow up on protocol for using Anti-Bullying forms for students on the autism spectrum and all students. Jed also discussed materials needed by Al Curtis (or psychologists) who will be administering the WISC-1V and reviewed a packet prepared for student E.L., whom Al will be testing on Thursday. Another topic of conversation was led by Michael who shared concerns about 8th graders no going on Canada trip. Discussion focused on 'why not going' reasons, appropriate activities during the week when peers were in Canada, and staffing to carry these out. This should not all fall on Michael, since Polly and Ellen will not be available for part or all of the week.
4/16/14: Focus was on DESE regulations for Bullying Prevention as outlined in the Intervention Advisory '11-'12. New forms for all students and those identified with disability on the autism spectrum were reviewed. The appropriate form will be used at IEP meetings and parent will sign-off that they participated in the discussion and were in agreement with any recommended action plans. The meeting concluded with concern about the presence of a social skills curriculum for students Teams may identify, as well as social skills services delivery follow through when stated on the IEP.
4/14/14: Department member continued gathering info/data for educator evaluation.
4/9/14: Jed was out and department met to do files compliance review. Each inclusion teacher chose 2 students who had an IEP meeting in the second trimester and followed a check list for documents in the student sped file. These were returned to Jed to work on any discovered omissions or needs for change. Jed also made the request that Inclusion teachers review students on the monthly pull-out list for accuracy.
3/31/14: Nina provided this working lunch period for teacher evaluation prep time.
3/25/14: Audio Conference training When School Safety and Student Privacy Rights collide: Determining a Compliant Response. Intermittent discussion during the 12:00 PM - 1:30 presentation. Inclusion specialists are liaisons for disseminating info as needed to their respective teams.
3/19/14: We had a mini-department lunch, with three members absent. Michael, Kristen, Carol, and I talked about MCAS and different scenarios. Conversation then turned to Michael having to teach 2 exhibition workshops this trimester, starting right away. There was a collective remembering from an end of year staff discussion last June that this should be avoided. The cause is student choices in grade 8 and it's clear that this hasn't been resolved. A last topic in our half hour meeting was raised by Michael who shared that his working in the 5th grade math classroom three times a week was taking him away from grade 8 on going talking and sharing with his team. A topic for next time is 'how to provide needed services while not using an inclusion teacher from another grade.
3/12/14: No lunch meeting due to Professional Development.
3/5/14: Discussion focused on review of MCAS accommodations and arriving at a common understanding. Particular attention was given to accommodations 14 (Track Test Items) and 22 (Monitor Placement of Responses). We will complete standard accommodations next week and discuss Non-Standard accommodations 26-32.
2/26/14: Discussion continued on what members gained from attending the Executive Function webinar. Members are prepared to share with full staff what they learned and are ready to implement in their practice, per Nina's request to make a presentation to full staff at Wednesday Professional Development. Molly W. shared the new grid for tracking student accommodations for MCAS exams. Also discussed was need to always include accommodation 4 (Separate Setting) for students who require individual or small group testing, consult with the S&L clinician (Jenny) and provide her with materials from the curriculum she can use when working with students, and Ann alerted us to a Barbara Wilson training in Wilson program & Dyslexia. Lyndsey shared a strategy she suggested to Nick D, who is teaching the Wellness/Health class: read to the students and recommended "Out of My Mind." At our next meeting we will review MCAS accommodations: what they mean and suitability for students on their caseloads.
2/12/14: Department attended a webinar on Executive Function. Participants took notes and shared their impressions afterwards.
1/15/14: Matt C. gave us an overview of the PARCC testing (ELA gr. 6 & 7 and Math gr. 8). He explained that this is a field test and is performance based using computers, with some features of both MCAS and NWEA. These will be administered along with MCAS in March (ELA) and with MCAS & NWEA in May (Math). He needs a list of accommodations by next Wednesday (1/22/14) from respective inclusion teachers. Other topics lightly touched on were Kristin P tied up with jury duty probably into next week so help with students she services is needed, Open House reflections, Highlight errors (1/29/14 is a 1/2 day for students and no MAP meetings this Friday (half day), and a free Webinar on Executive Function from 12-12:30 PM on Wed. 2/5/14. The remainder of our time was spent continuing the discussion on service delivery, including reminder from Jed about using Wednesday enrichment time if needed and using 7:30 AM - 8:00 or 8:15 AM as well. The department would like Nina to attend our next meeting to join us in continuing discussion.
1/8/14: We began our meeting with an update from Carol on the Intern who met with the 4th grade team yesterday. No other information is available at this time, other than she is looking to complete 500 hours in a moderate special needs setting. Jed mentioned that he's probably be the supervisor and Carol would be the point person for day to day activities. We then had a discussion on Special Education Law Update, Nov. 2013 article: Co-teaching Services Satisfy Least Restrictive Environment Requirement for Autistic Child. Our conversation lead to discussing what is meant in the IEP B Grid for services provided by reg. & spec. educators. Jed will seek clarification from DESE regarding non-certified staff providing the service, if supervised by a certified special educator. Jed requested that staff update their schedules and include initials of students for both push-in and pull-out services. Our meeting ended with concern expressed by many about the shrinking of time and available room/space to service students, given competing activities such as Basketball, MAP meetings, Band, Writing specialist, Y program in community room at 2:30, and, most recently, Chorus during Community Meeting/Advisory.
12/18/13: Pre-holiday topics and casual conversations.
12/11/13: Ann and Kristin discussed the conference on Tourette's syndrome they recently attended. Staff members then discussed outside special education topic conferences and workshops available for their professional development. Grant 274 money, $1,500, is allocated for this purpose. Each staff member is asked to attend one conference or workshop and report back to the department. We'll also considered ways or steps for full staff enrichment, if deemed appropriate and beneficial.
12/4/13: Discussion focused on Progress Reports status and Esped printing, Goals (School, Department, and Individual). We determined a priority for the next two meetings is MCAS accommodations review and preparation for the MPAK testing MCCPS will administer to identified grades as selected by the DESE.
11/20/13: Initial discussion focused on IEP/504 Plan students with accommodations that are an exception to the school rules: E.L. - backpack, E.H. - gum, C.P. - shorts). There is a need for disseminating this information to all staff. The department suggests that this be a topic of conversation at a Wed. staff meeting. Exhibition 'readiness,' Progress Reports, Grant 274 request, updating Child Find protocol (last done 8/11/10), and goals status for department members was discussed in our continuing lunch conversation.
11/13/13: Jed shared with the department Nina's okay for all member to attend the upcoming free conference at Salem State on Tourette's syndrome. Other PD pamphlets advertising conferences and discs on the department resource shelf were noted. Discussion then centered on where we are in our whole school, department, and individual goal setting for the year. Uncertainty and frustration were expressed by all with varying degrees. Jed conveyed to the department that he would again be the evaluator and would have initial conversations by December 6 with each member to determine their personal goal, emphasis on student learning/progress, and evidence to demonstrate achievement.
11/6/13: Our task was to reach consensus on how to spend the $1,500 available for program improvement through entitlement Grant 274. Some aspects of the previous week's discussion surfaced. Focus centered on using the money to get a speaker to present. Department members would like a training on either accommodations/modifications or behavior management strategies in the classroom. As thinking expanded to consider the whole school, two opinions became clear: school wide or special education emphasis. By the end of the meeting thought had evolved to inclusion, what does it mean in our school, and what can be done to assist the few students who aren't catching up or advancing as independent learners. Jed left at 12:30 to interview for the newly opened OT position.
10/30/13: Jed was at a conference for charter schools but left a 'loose' agenda. After an initial discussion on Progress Reports protocol, Department discussion focused on determining a department goal: possibilities included more computers, Keyboards for the I-pads, expanding the Read Naturally program, manipulative games to help students focus, small 'noise' machines, and speakers for P.D. No conclusion was reached at this time.
10/23/13: Focus was on distinguishing Accommodations from Modifications. After discussion about the the DESE definitions, there was common agreement that an Accommodation was an adaptation which does not fundamentally alter or lower the standard of the curriculum of expectation for the student. A Modification fundamentally alters and/or lowers the standard or expectations of the test or course.
10/16/13: MAP conferences week, no consult.
10/9/13: Nina joined our meeting and began discussion about teacher evaluation for this year. She distributed the Rubrics/Model System for Teacher Evaluation developed by DESE and explained how teachers might begin reviewing the document and selecting key words or phrases that are relevant to their growth and professional status. When she left for lunch clean up monitoring, the department members shared goal they worked on last year, both individual and department, what they were thinking about for '13-'14, and what elements (such as peer sharing) they would like to keep in the protocol MCCPS develops and uses.
10/2/13: Professional Development full day, no department meeting.
9/25/13: The department was focused for the whole meeting on finding a way to provide a separate math program for a grade 5 student identified as experiencing significant anxiety and unable to keep pace with the grade level curriculum. Equally important was meeting the needs of the other special education students whose IEP required teacher assistance in the classroom up to 3 x 45 min/wk. Three options were proposed, which Jed would bring to Nina.
Follow-Up: Jed spoke with Nina after the meeting and approval was given for Ann and Cara to attend a training on Dyslexia. Nina repeated her stipulation that information gathered at the training be presented to department or staff in some format, and Pam M. made aware of the professional development activity.
9/18/13: Our community building activity featured review of Children's Island experience, including recommendations for next year. Following a directive from Nina through Pam M, mentoring was discussed. We agreed on a flexible formal and informal approach. Inclusion teachers will seek out each other for advice in given situations in the moment. Department time would be used as needed for more lengthy discussion on options when confronting difficulties or understanding the thinking behind MCCPS practice and procedures. Michael C shared that he had accepted Nina's invitation to mentor Cara as a first year inclusion teacher, with and eye to meeting weekly. Jed will inquire about needs for a lengthier mentoring type general or individual meetings at the first department meeting each month. Finalizing a S & L schedule was again reviewed and clarity on out of district professional training opportunities for department members was raised.
9/11/13: Matt and Molly discussed NWEA needs and department member worked on lists of small group and 1:1 students so Molly could complete the NWEA master schedule. Also discussed was scheduling of Speech and Language services and respecting days/times constraints of our therapist, commitment not to do pull out services during academic blocks, and requirements of student IEPs. A tentative schedule was determined.
9/4/13: As a community building activity, we shared new experiences encountered over the Summer. We then discussed nuts and bolts of getting off to a good start. Protocols such as schedules, pull-out groups, and Student Support Cards were reviewed.