My principal asked the autism team to present at today’s staff development meeting. The administration included autism academic instruction and inclusion as part of the school year’s initiatives – very exciting to be included!
The main point we tried to make in our presentation today was that our kids do learn academic skills. I swear – some of the staff think we color and do puzzles all day! We have done several presentations on inclusion so it was nice to switch gears a little bit!
- how all IEP goals are related to state standards/common core
- prerequisites to teaching academic skills: attending behaviors, language abilities, and effective motivation system
- What is a self contained room? And why are my students in it? This dawned on me while we were planning the presentation. Maybe some of our school’s staff doesn’t really know why my students need a self contained setting. We explained how even our highest functioning students need the routine and support of a self contained setting. If they were included in the general education setting more problem behaviors could occur and academic achievement could decrease.
- Least Restrictive Environment – my students are with me for the majority of the school day. They are included for music, gym, and library at their grade level and attend with a paraprofessional. We made sure to give a shout to our great specials teachers who welcome our kids into their classrooms and work so hard to include them effectively (got make sure to recognize those who are good to you!).
- Reading instruction: our students use the Fountas Pinnell Guided Reading Levels just as the rest of our school does; we also use the Rigby spelling assessment; we detailed some additional interventions our students need to be successful in reading; again we wanted to emphasize that our students use many of the same resources as the general ed (just a bit adapted!).
- Math instruction: we stressed the importance of fluency (accuracy + speed) – it is not functional if you can tell the time 5 minutes after you look at a clock – this is a big component of my math instruction
Overall, I think the presentation went well! We tried to plug our inclusion opportunities as much as we could. I like to do some reverse inclusion activities on a regular basis (if possible) – where students from the general ed classrooms come in to my classroom for activities. A few years ago I paired up with the 8th grade teacher for peer buddies and it worked SO well. Both groups of kids got so much out of it! The 8th grade teacher actually apologized to me after the first session because she had sent such tough and difficult 8th graders. I remember staring at her blankly – I had no idea what she was talking about! All of the students she had sent sat nicely and patiently with my kids painting pumpkins and asking them questions. These sassy, defiant 8th graders just seemed to melt when they walked into my room. It’s such a great thing to see when inclusion activities work!
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