Getting School Ironed Out

Today we have a meeting with Prasad’s 4th grade teacher. Daniel and I will both be able to attend, while Sorin stays home with the boys and Amelie naps. Usually she does very well with them as long as they’re watching a video together. Without that distraction, they’d all be at each other’s throats while we’re gone! It should only take about 30-40 minutes, but we’re planning to start the meeting by requesting a sooner IEP meeting. Prasad’s isn’t due again until February, but we definitely need one sooner.

Woodlawn Elementary was awarded the best school in Lawrence last year, and they have received National Honors for many years. It’s a GREAT school. The teachers are like no others I have met before– extremely communicative, compassionate, and motivated as if they just got out of college yesterday. You know, that fresh and ambitious attitude that Education students have after graduation? For whatever reason, most of them seem to have it, even the Principal. That said, Prasad’s teacher has taken on a great deal by trying to keep him in the classroom setting. She kept insisting that he understood the math lessons, and when he came home to do homework, it was a disaster. They weren’t sending him to the resource teacher for small  group instruction (as stated in his IEP he’s supposed to have 1 hour of this for Math). Instead, he’s been expected to understand multiplication and division concepts, and do the work. When he left 3rd grade, he was still working at mastering addition and subtraction, so we were fuming with frustration.We later discovered that he hasn’t been getting pulled out for reading, either. That’s supposed to happen 50 minutes a day, 4 days/week. He was bringing home books  that were way too difficult, and we could see his self-esteem waning. More than anything, more than academics, his self-esteem is our highest priority.

We’re trying to understand why it is that every single year, when our IEP kids start over in a new grade, they are treated like guinea pigs. I remember this happening all the time with Sorin, and it was so stressful on her. The words “We’ll see how they do first” ring like a broken record in my head, both with Sorin all those years, and now with Prasad. As his parents, we know how they will do. They will flop around, try super hard, and then fail. They’re set up to fail at the first of every year, instead of being given work that’s at their level, where they left off last year. Why?? It’s a pattern, and as parents we always have to step in and complain until they comply with exactly what is in the IEP. As annoyed as I get, our kids pay the biggest price in this situation through their self-esteem.

Since scheduling this meeting, communication from Prasad’s teacher has gone from daily to never. We put in our two cents about the services he should be receiving, so maybe they’ve finally been sending him off to the resource teacher all week. My sense from the classroom teacher is that she’s extremely dedicated to each individual student. One day, when the school bell rang, I noticed her reminding each student 1:1 about their homework as they left the class. She stays after school a half hour to help Prasad complete assignments (a first with any teacher any of my kids have had), and she wants desperately to be able to help Prasad succeed. My sense is she’d love to take credit for being the first teacher to get him mainstreamed in the classroom, and believes he can be. I commend her for that. But I also get the sense (just my own perception, of course) that she takes it personally if he can’t learn in the general classroom setting; as a failure on her part. On our end, we see his severe frustrations at home. He’s not even a square peg, he’s a shape all his own and will never fit into any holes a school tries to fit him into. He needs manipulatives, physical movement and repetition in order to learn… that’s why he has an Individualized Education Plan. I’m hoping all goes well, and that we can get all this resolved today.

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