special education

New York

Departing from plan, Black slows down special ed changes

New York

Explaining to middle schoolers why fair isn't always equal

Older M.S. 223 students working with the Summer Bridge program made this bulletin board to welcome the new sixth-graders. (Photo courtesy M.S. 223) School districts around the country are increasingly trying to bring special education students into mainstream classrooms. The challenges this presents — and the possible benefits — were on display last week inside a summer school classroom in the Bronx. Each summer, the South Bronx's M.S. 223 brings in as many of its rising sixth-graders as it can find for a "summer bridges" program to smooth their transition into middle school. This is the first year that the summer program has brought special education students and students learning English together into the mainstream classes. The city school system as a whole is moving in this direction — this school year, about 200 schools will begin to bring special education students at all levels into regular classes. The following year, all schools will be required to do so. M.S. 223 is not a part of the pilot, but is trying to get a head start. During the week-long summer session, each day concluded with "team and family time," where students give thanks or shout-outs as praise to other students, and apologize or call each other out for misbehavior. In a class taught by Ashley Downs, one girl called out another for relying too heavily during class time on the older M.S. 223 student working as the class' counselor. "It's like she wasn't doing the work herself," the girl complained.
New York

Breaking From The Routine: What Happened When I Relaxed

Structure and routine is a refrain that starting-out special education teachers hear incessantly. The right classroom management strategy creates the perfect classroom, we're told. Yes, my second-grade special education students at Brooklyn's PS 12 needed some sort of structure and routine to thrive. Yet so often, it seems as though structure is equated to teacher control. Exact routines. Little freedom. No down time. I knew my students needed something more, something different. There were moments when they excelled and shined, but it wasn't when they were doing desk work, sitting on the rug, or taking part in skill and drill curricula. Our escape from a teacher-dominated structure began with a field trip to the New York Aquarium that coincided with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. After our visit, I posted a few links to site and articles about the oil spill on our classroom wiki and invited my students to look around the websites. They were riveted by the images of the dirty water and oil-covered sea creatures. One of my toughest and overage students sat in front of her laptop and said to herself, "This is so sad. I want to help." We brainstormed a few ideas as a class. How could we help? We contemplated sending toothbrushes, collecting pet and human hair for the booms (yes, my second-graders know what booms are!), and sending supplies like paper towels and heavy-duty bags. Ultimately, we decided to put our effort in closer to home, by creating a news broadcast about the spill. The link to our regular classroom activities came from comic books, which my students had been reading. One of my awesome educational assistants, Janice Pierce, suggested that we create superheroes who could help out on the Gulf Coast. Our team of superheros, the Superpsychics — Environmentra, Bubble Girl, Dragon Boy, Diamond Woman, Heart Girl, Rainbow Girl, Green Hulk, and Superboy — was born. The students were at last engaged in writing. I'd never seen them work so intently. By late June, we had completed two major projects — a video and a comic book.
New York

Brill-ing Down: Adding to Steven Brill’s NYT Magazine Report

New York

Principals are now free to look anywhere for special ed teachers

New York

Some hope for shut-out teachers as a hiring restriction is lifted