Having worked in special education for ten years, I’ve spent a lot of time in IEPs working with lots of different professionals—physical and occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists, nurses, physical education specialists, visual and hearing impairment specialists, resource specialists, special day class teachers, and school psychologists. Most of these educational specialists are spread very thin, covering many schools. In one district I worked there were two psychologists covering a district of 35 schools from elementary to high school. Those two people worked with over 2,000 teachers and more than 35,000 children. I have NO IDEA how they did it, but they were a wonderful group of people to work with. I wish there were more opportunities for general education teachers and special education teachers to work together and collaborate—I think there would be a lot more respect between the two groups if they could “walk in each other’s shoes” a little more.
A blog I really enjoy is Notes from the School Psychologist. Dr. Rebecca Branstetter works in California’s Bay Area, and I find her posts informative, compassionate, and funny—a perfect combination for someone who wants to learn comfortably. A recent post titled, I’ll Take Questions I’m Not Prepared to Answer on the Spot for $800, Alex, describes an interaction she had with a group of kindergartners about jailed family members. I live in an area where there are a number of correctional facilities, adult and juvenile. Many families of the incarcerated move to neighborhoods nearby, so my county schools have a number of students in this very situation. (There is a very high number of foster children in this county, as well.)
I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read her post—even if you don’t have students with jailed family members, it will get you thinking about all the challenges our little friends face, and the suggestions she makes in dealing with this difficult issue apply to many other situations as well. I’m sure you’ll find it very worthwhile.