Friday, September 17, 2010

The case of the mistaken identity

If a student has a teacher in the classroom and a teacher for their IEP, who the heck are we? This is a question (a very good one, I believe) that my coworkers and I have been discussing via email recently. I think it's one that inclusion teachers face in any program. Even with a job description, you feel like you're constantly creating your role. In a "brick and mortar" school, you go to classes and help students and hope to be able to do more than be the unofficial class aide. You adapt to each teacher, sometimes sitting in a corner, in other cases wandering the room quietly answering questions or helping take notes, and in the best scenarios actually co-teaching a lesson and helping any student you can.

In the online environment, there are no corners to sit in. I guess. I mean I could go sit in a corner with my computer...but I can still work and help students even if the other teacher doesn't use me as a resource. That's a big plus. And the whole co-teaching thing is still possible with the Elluminate classrooms mentioned in the previous post. So it's kind of the best of both worlds. Productivity is always an option. And developing that mindset has been a switch for me. If I'm not needed in a class, I just do something else. If someone needs me, I know right away. It's pretty nice! I always felt guilty multitasking in a classroom, like I was being rude. Here it's a good thing :)

I've been able to help with students and discuss possible adaptations with other teachers. I think those are two big, obvious roles that the online inclusion teachers will need to fill. I've also been working on helping the general ed teachers track IEP objectives. I think this was an unexpected role, but it really works well. I have access to IEPs and a knowledge of what needs to be done and what the options for interventions are. I also have access to the course content and a knowledge of what is being taught and where the interventions fit in. It's the perfect middle ground. One of my coworkers has been given some lessons by a general ed teacher to adapt ahead of time, which sounds like it's going to work really well. That could be a huge part of our roles in the future!

We also have our caseloads, so like any special ed teacher we're writing IEPs and tracking progress. But that's nothing new and certainly not exciting, so no more about that! I'm excited about the involvement we've been able to establish. Everyone is really helping us develop spots for ourselves and try to define what these positions will entail. I'm sure it will continue to change!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Sweet Cheat Sheets

Not bad rhyming for a math teacher! Anyway, I was very happy about the progress of the last week. I have worked with two, count'em, two students. I know that might not seem like a big deal, but I feel like a teacher again and that feels good. While working with the two students, I learned a lot about things we're going to need for this to work.

First of all, I actually need a classroom. We have an amazing program called Elluminate that allows teachers to have individual virtual classrooms. We can talk, text chat, use a two way whiteboard, and even share desktops in real time. It's unbelievably effective. And no fun to do without. Luckily, my supervisor is very generous and let me borrow hers. Hopefully I'll get my own soon! It's amazing how many little technical things you don't think of when you're planning. Every day I realize I need added to another list or given access to another thing.

Secondly, I need to build a library of cheat sheets! I have to mention before I get much farther, I find these very improperly named. I don't know of anyone who thinks of cheating in a good way. But I also don't know of any teacher who wouldn't want their students to utilize well organized notes while they are working. Ok, so some teachers may want the students to take the notes themselves. No biggie, just cover them in class and have the student take the notes.

In that light, the search is on! So far I've found two that I really like. One of them came from the test prep section of Cliffnotes. I highly suggest perusing that part of the site. It is full of resources for students in every subject. Great little "cheat sheets." But in a good way :)