Six Major Principles of IDEA: The IEP

iep2Parents have you ever wondered what an IEP meeting is and what you could do to avoid pitfalls that many parents make because they don’t understand the IEP or that it might be your first IEP meeting.  Well I know that I would want to make sure to avoid the pitfalls and make sure that I am making the right/best decisions for my child. First of all I know that an IEP meeting can be overwhelming for parents especially if it is their very first one.  First many parents may find it difficult to follow what the educators are saying and talking about, and they may not even know what their role is in the process.  If you don’t know what your role is to be you might feel that the educators of the IEP team will/would make the best possible decisions for your child/childrens education.  It might become clear months later that the decisions agreed on in the IEP meeting was not the best for your child’s education.  I would like to share with you 10 common mistakes that parents make during an IEP meeting, and some suggestions on how to avoid them.


  1. IEpBelieving the professionals are the only experts.   First off it can be very intimidating to sit at a table with several educators and professionals. Educators and professionals do bring a great deal of knowledge/experience to the table. Remember you as a parent have a great deal of knowledge and experience regarding your child. You are experts in your own right by providing historical information and the big picture from year to year. You know what works and does not work with your  child and that is and can be a great asset to the IEP team.  Remember to follow your hunches because if it does not work out your hunch might be correct in the first place.
  2. Not making request in writing.  Any request that you make needs to be in writing. This includes requests for IEP meetings, assessments, correspondence, related services, etc. Written requests are important because they initiate timelines that the school district must follow in response to your request.  When you write a letter be sure to send it certified mail. When you have a discussion by phone with a school official, write a letter that briefly outlines what you talked about. Documenting your conversations helps prevent miscommunication.

    Documenting requests for the IEP committee clarifies to the committee what you are requesting and allows you to use your own words instead of the note taker paraphrasing it.  Parents type exactly what you think your child needs and list why you think it is educationally necessary.  Then have the IEP committee record the written request as part of the IEP minutes.  The IEP committee has one of two choices: the committee can accept or deny the request. If the committee denies the request, then they must follow the procedural safeguards in IDEA and provide written notice of why they are denying your request. This method makes it difficult for an IEP committee to tell you “no” without thinking through the options. If the request is not written down, the school district is not obligated to provide the service. Make sure you write it down.

  3. IEP_no-no-1Not being familiar with prior notice of the procedural safeguards.  This particular section gives you some leverage during the IEP meetings. Whenever you make a request for your child in the IEP meeting, the IEP committee is required under the  Prior Notice to provide you with written notice with a reasonable period of time.  By making all requests in writing and by requiring the IEP team to provide Prior Notice, you are making the team accountable for its decisions.
  4. Requesting a related service instead of an assessment that supports the need for a related service.  Some of the services that might be called on in and IEP meeting by the parents are: speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy, etc. to name a few. Frequently the IEP committee will respond by stating that your student does not need theses services.  Do not request the service but request the assessment that supports the need for the related service. For example, instead of requesting speech for your child request a speech assessment.

    Only a certified or licensed professional is qualified to determine if a  child needs or does not need a particular related service. Again list the reasons why you think an assessment is educationally necessary for your child and submit your request to the IEP committee as part of the IEP minutes.

  5. bip-iep-3-728Accepting assessment results that do not recommend the services you think your child needs.  Sometimes you might receive assessment results that do not accurately describe your child and/or do not recommend the amount and duration of services that you think your child needs. The  Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) states that parents of a child with a disability have the right to obtain an independent evaluation at public expense if they disagree with the results of the school’s assessment. Request the IEE in writing and the school will have one of two choices: they may either provide the IEE in a reasonable period of time or they may take you to a due process hearing. When an IEE is agreed upon, you and school must come to an agreement as to who is qualified to assess the student. Remember the examiner for an IEE cannot be employed by the school district.
  6. Allowing the assessment information to be resented for the first time of the IEP meeting.  Your are entitled to have the assessment information explained to you before the IEP meeting.  Have the person who administered the assessment give you a copy of the report and meet with them to explain the report several days before the IEP meeting. This gives you time to think through the information before making decisions for your child.
  7. Accepting goals and objectives that are not measurable.  Without measurable goals and objectives, it is difficult to determine if your child has had a successful school year or not.  Remember all goals and objectives should come from an assessments data. The assessment has four different components:

A. Formal assessment (WIAT, Woodcock-Johnson, Brigance)

B. Informal assessment (classroom work)

C. Teacher/parent observation

D. Interviews

imagesUQGKERJHAfter the information has been collected about your child it is compiled into an assessment report. Recommendations on how to work with your child are listed toward the end of the report. If you receive an assessment report that does not give recommendations for potential goals and objectives then the assessment is not complete. After the assessment has been completed, the IEP committee  needs to determine your child’s present level of performance and state what  your child is currently able to do. The committee then develops the IEP goals and objectives. The goals state what the student is expected to accomplish by the end of the year. Objectives break the goals down into increments.  A method of determining if your child’s goals and objectives are measurable is to ask someone who is not on your IEP team to read them. Then ask “Hypothetically, if you were to go into the classroom, would you be able to see my child working on these goals and objectives?” If someone outside of your IEP team cannot answer yes, then your child’s goals and objectives are not measurable.

8. Allowing placement decisions to be made before IEP goals and objectives are written.  Many times after assessment is discussed, the IEP committee will determine the child’s placement. Goals and objectives are always written before placement is discussed. To ensure that the child is placed in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), the IEP committee must determine: Which of these goals and objectives can best be met in the general classroom?   You should know that with any remaining goals and objectives that cannot be met in the general classroom,  the committee determines: Which of these goals and objectives can be best met in the general classroom with modifications and support?   This line of questioning continues until all placement options have been decided upon for all the goals and objectives. The committee must always start with the LRE and then work toward a more restrictive environment only as necessary.  Parents remember that  IDEA is very clear that the IEP committee must always consider the general education classroom as the first option for students with disabilities.

9. iep1Allowing your child’s IEP meeting to be rushed so that the school staff can begin the next child’s IEP meeting.  This practice is common at the end of the school year when educators are frantically trying to have IEP meetings for all the students who receive special education services. IEP meetings may be held one right after another. There might not be a problem with this as long as the members of the IEP team feel that all issues have been adequately discussed this includes you parents as well. Many times, however, parents feel rushed. It is important that all issues are adequately addressed before ending the IEP meeting. When the educators have not planned adequate time to address all relevant issues, request that the IEP team meet again at a more convenient time to further discuss your child’s education.

10. Not asking a lot of questions. Remember that it is very important for you to ask questions and lots of them. Educators use many terms specific to special education. You may become confused when these terms are used during the IEP meeting. This can add to the frustration that many parents may already be feeling when they do not understand what is being said. It is important to ask what the terms mean if you do not know.   Informed decisions cannot be made when you do not understand what is being discussed.

imagesJWG6QWCVNow I am not laying all these pitfalls on just you the parents but it also has to be the teachers responsibility as well.  As a future educator it is my responsibility to make sure that my parents are informed of the things that they do not understand.  If a parent comes to me and tells me that they need more time for the IEP meeting I will do my best to inform the other team members that the parents are requesting more time and that we might need to reschedule the meeting.  I will make sure that this is acceptable for the parents as well.  I also have to remember that parents are not the only ones who make mistakes but the IEP team can make a mistake too.  Remember it takes a TEAM to help children succeed and working with parents can help us understand their child as they are the ones that know more about their child then we do.


Six Major Principles of IDEA: 4. Procedural Safeguards

stock-photo-safeguard-325794752How many parents really know that IDEA has six major principles in it to help us parents to get our children with disabilities an education with other children?  It is not until I started doing some research of my own that I have come to realize this.  I want to talk about one of these principles which is Procedural Safeguards.  First of all procedural safeguards are listed in IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) which is P.L 94-142.  It is very important for teachers and parents to understand and know the procedural safeguards as it does pertain to children with disabilities which as a future teacher I will have in a classroom someday and what to make sure that I am following the law and to help the parents of the children to if they don’t know what they are and understand them.  Lets talk about the legal requirements of the procedural safeguards and What the Law says about it.

Legal Requirements

stock-photo-consent-text-on-puzzle-on-the-place-of-missing-pieces-scarlett-background-close-up-d-284144033The school district where you live or that you are working (and all schools around the United States)  must provide due process safeguards to protect the rights of children with disabilities and their parents. Remember parental consent must be obtained for subsequent and initial evaluations and placement decisions regarding special education.(This must be Done before anything can Start).  The school and staff must maintain the confidentiality of all records pertaining to a child with disabilities and they need to make these records available to the parents. Lets say a parent of a child with disabilities disagrees with the results of an evaluation performed by the school or school district, the parent can obtain an independent evaluation at public expense.  If the parent also disagrees on the placement, evaluation, identification or provision of a free, appropriate public education and related services for the child, the parent may request a due process hearing this goes the same for the school as well.  States are also required to offer the parent an opportunity to resolve the matter through mediation (a third party) before holding a due process hearing.  The parent has the right to attorney’s fees if he/she prevails in due process or judicial proceedings under IDEA. legal-1143114__180Remember that the law also includes provisions that allow the court to award reasonable attorney’s fees to the prevailing school district against the attorney of a parent, or the parent who files a complaint that is  unreasonable, without foundation, frivolous, or filed for any improper purpose, such as to harass the school as well.  Knowing that the safeguards are there to help parents and that the procedures are put in place to resolve disagreements between parents and schools regarding the placement of a student is what everyone should know.

joining-770559__180These safeguards are very important for me to know because as a future teacher I want to make sure that I’m following the law so that way I don’t lose my job or hurt my students education, or if the parents don’t know their rights.  If I find that a fellow teacher or my school district is not following the law I need to let my supervisor know right away or so that way I am doing what is right for my students and the school district.  If I have any questions about these safeguards I will make sure that I am speaking to my supervisor and hopefully they can point me in the right direction.  There is one way that I can do to avoid a due process hearing and that is to stay in contact with parents.  As a special education teacher I will need to make sure that I am following all guidelines and that I am following up on parent concerns about their children or procedures like the IEP.  For the IEP I need to make sure that I am following the steps and procedures that it is asking me and the student to do.  I also need to model and remind my staff and others about confidently.   There are court cases that can also help parents and teachers to better understand these safeguards as well and what might happen if we do not follow them.

paragraph-1161140__180Court Cases

Hendrick Hudson Board of Education v. Rowley (1982)  This is the first Supreme Court case regarding special education and set the standard for what is a “Free Appropriate Public Education”.   The ruling provided children with disabilities access to public schools that also provided a basic floor of opportunity.  Not the best education but one where the child has passing grades in classes and is advancing to the next grade level.

Ivring Independent School District v. Tatro (1984)

Burlington School Committee vs. Massachusetts Department of Education (1985) This case was brought forth by Robert Panico for his son Michael Panico who had “specific learning disabilities”.  His father rejected the proposed IEP.  The mediation that followed failed so it went to court.  His father enrolled Michael in a private school at his own expense but what the public school to pay the tuition.  The courts decision gave parents the right to reimbursement of private school tuition in certain situations.  If the School District’s offer didn’t meet the definition of FAPE and the parent’s private school placement did give FAPE then they could get reimbursed.  The  parent’s who privately place their children and seek reimbursement do it at their own financial risk.  It also clarifies procedural safeguards, parent role and child’s placement during disputes.

Honing v. Doe (1988) This case was brought to court because of the procedural safeguard “stay-put” provision.  This provision direct that a disabled child “Shall remain in his or her then current educational placement pending completion of any review proceedings” unless the parent and state or local educational agencies other wise agree.

The court decision removed a school’s unilateral authority to suspend or expel a student with an IEP for more than 10 days unless there is evidence of weapons, drugs, or serious bodily injury.  The school must get a ruling from a hearing officer or court.  It also clarifies that schools shall not expel children for behaviors related to their disability.

Florence Co. School District Four v. Shannon Carter (1993) This case was brought forth by the parents Shannon who was learning disabled in 1985.  Her parents enrolled her in a private school after they disagreed with the IEP and requested a hearing.  During the process of the hearing Shannon graduated from the private school.  The court ruled in a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court found that as long as the parents meet the test for reimbursement established in Burlington parents have a right to reimbursement even if the private school is not a non-public school certified by the State.

Cedar Rapids v. Garret F (1999) This case was brought forth by the parent of Garret who is paralyzed from the neck down.  His parents provided for his physical care when he was in school up until 1993.  When his mother requested the District to accept finical  responsibility for the health care that Garret required.  The District denied the request.  The court ruled once again and  looked at related services and decided cost is not a factor.  If it’s needed to attend school and doesn’t meet the medical exception test the School must provide it.

Schaffer v. Weast (2005) This case was bout the “impartial due process hearing” and which party bears the burden of persuasion at such a hearing.  The court ruled that the burden of proof in a Due Process Hearing is on the party who files.

Arlington Central District v. Murphy (2006) This case was brought by Pearl and Theodore Murphy on behalf of their son Joseph.  Joseph’s parents wanted to recover fees of services render by experts in IDEA Actions.  The court ruled that parents who win in a Due Process hearing are not entitled to recover expert witness fees having to do with the claims established in Due Process.

Winkelman v. Parma City District (2007) This case was brought to court by 6 year old Jacob’s parents who wanted to represent themselves.  The question that the court asked was whether parents either on their own behalf or as representatives of the child, may proceed in court unrepresented by counsel through they are not trained or licensed as attorneys.  The court ruled parents, although not licensed attorneys may pursue IDEA claims on their own behalf.  These rights are independent of their child’s rights.

Forest Grove District v. T.A (2009) T.A’s parent brought forth this case because they wanted to be reimbursed for private education costs for their son.  Even thought T.A did not receive special education and related services under the Public schools.  The court ruled that IDEA allows reimbursement for private special education services, even when the child did not previously receive special education services from the public school.

justice-683942__180From the view of the district director of special education these court cases provide what is required to school districts and teachers under the procedural safeguards by law.  It is my responsibility to make sure that I am following the rules and regulations.  As a future teacher I need to make sure that I am responding to my parents concerns and pointing them to the right people if I can not answer their questions.  I will want to make sure that I am staying up to date with the procedural safeguards as well.  This can put  a lot of pressure on me as a director but I must follow them and make sure that my teachers correctly follow the rules and procedures of each procedural safeguard as well.

The ramifications of violations of procedural safeguards can result in job loss, suing of the school(s) the director works for. The worst ramification is the impact on the child with special needs.



Howard, W.L; Six Major Principals of IDEA; Retrieved March 2nd, 2016; From website

Goldberg, Doug; Top Ten Special Education Supreme Court Cases; Retrieved March 2nd, 2016; Special Education Adviser; website

Procedural Safeguards for All Participants; Retrieved March 4th,2016; Fro Six Pillars of IDEA; website

Practical Matters Time for Planning

imagesJQ568OHRWhen I was younger I used to think that teachers would have everything planned out and ready to go for the entire year.  Now that I am doing my own research on teacher planning and how they do it as an individual and/or in teams I have come to find out that many times they are doing the planning together.  They may have planned somethings out for the entire year but as the year goes on they are planning more precisely about want they want to teach or what their students are more interested in learning.  Now they might have to plan each lesson plan to the curriculum that the school district that they work for wants them to use, but that does not mean that the teacher has to teach it in a boring matter. Each teacher needs to analyze the problems and interests of their group and plan in terms of these need to meet present conditions.  Groups of teachers need to work together in planning for total groups of the same grade level, or the same area in the subject fields.  For example an 7th grade teacher plans more effectively if they work occasionally with a sixth grade teachers.  Here are some ideas that can be found to help new and veteran teachers with planning times.

stock-photo-hand-writing-time-to-plan-concept-with-blue-marker-on-transparent-wipe-board-131767742Options for creating Shared Planning Time

Sometimes teachers don’t know where to start when doing shared planning.  To create shared planning time a teacher can utilize principals, paraprofessionals, counselors, other teachers, etc.  A student needs to have Speech Class but the only time that is available is when she is in reading class.  To have shared planning time work here both teachers can co-teach the student.  Shared planning can also happen with Technology as well.  business-1137367__180For example a general education teacher can us Google Docs and share the document with other fellow staff to plan for student or as a team activity that needs to be done in Math, Social Studies, and English as a team.  The school district can also help with shared planning time as well.  The school district can experiment with early arrival or early dismissals days to help the teachers with time to plan out lesson plans, activities, team work etc.  The teacher could also begin class with independent worktime to help with planning as well.  These are just some of the suggestions that a new and veteran teacher can use to help with shared planning time.


'You are two hours late.'
‘You are two hours late.’

Scheduling and Coordinating Services

One of the hardest problems that a teacher faces in the school system today is coordinating schedules.  This can be a difficult and frustrating time for teachers.  Many teachers are sitting there thinking how am I going to get this all done?  I have my students to plan for, I have limited planning time and all these other responsibilities to do as well!  One way to help is to focus solely on topics that need to be addressed.  Another way this can be accomplished is to coordinate with other teachers either by email, face to face, etc., asking them to help/give time when they are available to plan with you the teacher to see the students that need to be seen or help with a lesson plan.  The teacher need to decide what is urgent vs. what is important as well.  teamwork-854999__180By asking these questions can help with scheduling and coordinating services with others:

  1. Who is going to do what?
  2. Are we staying on task?
  3. Are we utilizing all the different skill on our team?
  4. Are we doing our work in an appropriate environment?
  5. what is urgent vs. important?  (When coordinating services as a team remember that there are urgent things over important things.  The teacher might want to knock our and entire to do list but prioritizing is just as important.)
  6. Is everyone on the same  page with it come to priorities? (Teacher, therapists, schools an districts etc.)
  7. Is the correct data being used?
  8. Finally remember deadlines, crises, emergencies and last minute preparations are what really matters  Sharing ideas on how to collaborate and how to schedule can play a crucial role and that everyone’s ideas can make a big impact and difference.

Establishing Schedules in a Collaborative School

joining-770559__180There are options that schools and teachers have for scheduling planning time during the day.  One way to do this is to schedule the same lunch period with another staff and then schedule the same preparation period.  The school district where my children go has an early release on Wednesdays for students at 2:20 the teachers then can stay until 3:00 to 3:30.  This provides the necessary time for staff to plan with each other and other grade levels and special education staff.

Coordinating Services for Collaboration

stock-photo-business-people-jigsaw-puzzle-collaboration-team-concept-265384880The best overall strategy that I have found for coordinating services is to work with represented group from the school.  This would include each grade level, administrator, support staff, like speech /language psychologist etc., and a paraprofessional  One example of doing this that the general education teacher needs to know what the special education teacher is doing for the student and vise versa.  While observing in a preschool class room the special education teacher came into the room of this first year teacher and was giving her ideas on what use with a student who as Autism.  The special education teacher suggested they try a rocking chair instead od a regular chair for this student to sit on because he squirmed so much.  The general education teacher tired the rocking chair out for a week and the student seemed to be doing better and more focused on his work.  This was collaboration on part of both teachers.

Potential Problems Associated with Planning

When implementing common planning time, administrators and teachers may encounter a number of challenges that could give rise to criticism or debate. For example:

1. Competing responsibilities and logistical issues can make the scheduling of regular common planning time difficult. Insufficient meeting time or irregularly scheduled time may then undermine the strategy and its intended benefits.

2. A lack of support from the superintendent, principal, or other school leaders could lead to an inadequate investment of time, attention, and resources.

3. Inadequate training for group facilitators could produce ineffective facilitation, disorganized meetings, and an erosion of confidence in the strategy.

4. A lack of clear, explicit goals for common planning time can lead to unfocused conversations, misspent time, and general confusion about the purpose of the meetings.

5. A negative school or faculty culture could contribute to tensions, conflicts, factions, and other issues that undermine the potential benefits of common planning time.

6. A lack of observable, measurable progress or student-achievement gains can erode support, motivation, and enthusiasm for the strategy.

7. Highly divergent educational philosophies, belief systems, or learning styles can lead to disagreements that undermine the collegiality and sense of shared purpose typically required to make common planning time successful.

These are just some of the problems that can come up when teachers and support staff are not having time for planning.  As a future teacher I would want to make sure that I am using all  my planning time that I can get in the most useful and collaborative ways that I can.  I would want to make sure that I am coordinating with my fellow teachers and support staff and when I have questions my districts administration  can help me answer my questions.  It take a team to plan for a group of students and that no one should go at it alone if they want to become a great teacher.  This is video that I found on you tube has a way of taking planning time to a new level.


Paraeducators and Ethical Considerations

paraHave you ever wondered how many Para educators are familiar with the ethical considerations that they must know?  Well I never really thought about it either.  First of all lets talk about Ethics.

Ethics and Para educators:

Well Ethics with para educators  function as a member of a team and have a special relationship with teachers, other school personal, students, parents and the community.  The quality of these relationships depends not only on the work performed, but also on the ethical behavior demonstrated on the job.  Para educators are faced with ethical issues on a daily basis, including confidentiality, record management, and the demands placed on them by teachers and staff.  There may come a time when the para may face a situation where their own interest, the students interest or even the schools interest may become a conflict.  These ethical standards will help them to become aware of the correct course of action and even help with a variety of perspectives often then their your own.

images799RET89Remember as a para educator you we are obligated to be fully prepared as possible to function ethically as well as legally in the school we are working.  To help out there are some responsibilities that  can be followed and they are:

  1. Engage only in non-instructional and instructional activities for which the para educator has been qualified or trained to do.
  2. Do not communicate progress or concerns about students to parents.
  3. Should the para educator have a concern or a concern expressed by a parent, student, or others, they need to refer it to the teacher or their supervisor.
  4. Remember the supervisor has the ultimate responsibility for the instruction and behavior management of the children, also the para must remember to follow the directions/instructions prescribed by them unless it conflicts with number 1.

cartoonNow there are some ethical standards that a para must know about with students and their parents and they are:

  1. Discuss progress and limitations of a student only with the supervising teacher and it must be in an appropriate setting.
  2.  Refrain from engaging in unfair practices as  result of the students handicap, race or cultural background.
  3. Discuss school problems and confidential matters only with appropriate personnel, and remember only when students are not present.
  4. Present yourself as a positive adult role model.
  5. Respect the dignity, privacy and individuality of all students, parents, and staff members of the school.
  6. Use behavior management strategies that are established by the school where you are working and also the classroom teacher.

There is a saying by Kent Gerlach that says:


Well this saying has me thinking about what the research says about para educators communicating with parents.  What I found is that research is contradictory between the communication with parents and paras.  Some research suggests that paras should not communicate progress or concerns about students to parents.  Yet according to Jeffery Joyer paras must communicate well with parents.  Others recommend that paras and parents communicate because paras “spend more time with students and gain insights into their academic and social behaviors”  However for paras and parents relationships to be beneficial in the students education they must remain within the boundaries and limits established by the teacher or the school district that the paras are working.   So it would depend on the school district and/or supervising teacher if  the para is allowed to communicate with parents.

cool-cartoon-4193979Relationship with the Teachers:

  1. Recognize the teacher as your supervisor.
  2. Establish communication and a positive relationship with the teacher.
  3. When problems cannot be resolved, utilize the school district’s complaint/grievance procedures.
  4. Discuss concerns about the teacher or teaching methods directly with the teacher. Do not undermine the teacher(s), or their program(s) through gossip or side talking.
  5. Express differences of opinion only when students are not present.
  6. If issues are not resolved, then discuss concerns only with the teacher’s supervisor.
  7. Do not discuss teacher problems with students, other teachers, paraprofessionals or parents.
  8. Follow the behavior management approach as established by the teacher.

Relationships with the school:

  1. Accept responsibility for improving skills
  2. Become familiar with school policies and procedures
  3. Represent the school and its programs in a positive manner
  4. When procedures cannot be resolved utilize the grievance procedures attired by the school district for which you are working.

Now lets discuss Confidentiality

One of the most important aspects of ethical behavior for a para educator is the handling and disclosure of confidential information about students and their families.  School personnel including you the para are required by law to keep this information confidential.  The laws that support this clam are as follows:

Confidentiality: Federal law P.L. 90-247, Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and State Law: Nebraska Rule 51.

Information about students is confidential and should only be shared with teachers and staff who directly work with the student.  If you are a para who types, collects and stores educational records you need t be aware that the written data is confidential and should not be shared with persons outside of the educational team.  Now there will be times when you are out and about and someone will come up to you and ask you a question like “I hear you’re working with Brittany… Is that family as demanding as everyone says?”  Here are some possible answers that a para educator can give so they are protecting the confidential agreement:

  1. I’m a paraprofessional with the school; I can’t talk about children and families that way
  2. “Paraprofessionals aren’t allowed to discuss children and their families with others.  Sorry”

So remember that keeping confidential information is a rule/law that every para professional must follow it or it might/will cost them their job.  now that we have discussed the ethical relationships lets discuss how having a Para educator helps in the classroom.

Here is a video that I found on you tube that talks a little bit about confidentiality and new teachers but I believe that it also pertains to para educators as well.

The pros of Proximity with students

  1. Students are more academically engaged
  2. More interactions took place between the student and the para educator.  Students were highly engaged when there were frequent verbal actions between student and paras.
  3. Academic on task behavior dropped when close proximity was not there.
  4. students get individual attention
iPads in School 1
Special education teacher Laura Richardson uses an Apple iPad to help teach words and pronunciation Wednesday to Mowery Elementary School student Hannah Wetzel.

The cons of proximity with students

  1. Students may not have the opportunity to have a para in every class
  2. The para educators cost the school money; funds my limit how many can be hired
  3. close proximity must be controlled.
  4. too much support can impede progress of students gaining independence skills.


Final thoughts:

As a future teacher in my classroom I plan to use my paras in ways that will help me to better help my students.  I want my paras to assist me with guiding my struggling students.  My paras will be able to watch for things that I might have missed with a student.  For example if I am teaching a math lesson and I don’t notice a student who is struggling but my para does.  They can let me know and I might be able to let the student use manipulatives or even have the pare help them.  I also need to make sure that my paras are trained and know the federal and state laws as well.



Special Education Regulation and Policies Retrieved February 26th, 2016 from Nebraska Department of Special Education; website;

What are ethical standards for paraprofessionals’ Retrieved February 26th, 2016; from Para Link; website

Teams, Team Models

stock-photo-diverse-people-in-a-meeting-and-teamwork-concept-217486570How many of us new teachers really know how to work as team in education yet?  I know that I really don’t at least not fully as I am not in a classroom yet but hopefully with this blog I can start to learn and think as a team player in the education field.  First lets discuses the four types of team models in education.  They are Multidisciplinary, Interdisciplinary, Transdisciplinary, and Collaborative team models.

Multidisciplinary  is a group of people who compose a team with varied, but complementary experience, qualification, and skills.  All team members contribute to the achievement of the team.  This team might include general education teacher, the parents, SPED teacher, paraprofessionals, principle and school psychologists.  This team work individually with no interaction with the other team members but are working to  pursue a common goal which might be to evaluation a student for special education and/or creating an IEP (individualized education plan).  collaboration_wheelIn reality individual specialist works with the student and there might not be/no interaction with other team members.  The multidisciplinary team sometimes might be referred to as child study team or student support team.  This model uses a pull-out model which where all professionals work separately with the student, the SPED teacher or psychologist come into the regular education classroom where the student is at and takes the student over to another spot in the room and works with them individually on something else while the rest of the class continues with their work.  The pull-out model can also mean that the SPED teacher or psychologist  comes into the regular classroom and pulls the student out of the room to another room to work individually with the student.  When information is relayed to the parent of the student it is done in the same fashion as with the student, each professional discusses with the parents separately.

Interdisciplinary team models are where all the team works together.  imagesR066WEHVThere is collaboration of ideas and resources.  The general education teachers provide the curriculum for all their students while special educators make accommodations for students with special needs.  There is no team teaching of any kind within the general education classroom as each member sticks to their own professional job descriptions.  It is very important that team members value each others opinions and all members work together for the common goal.  All members would meet and collaborate a plan and then it would be implemented based on what everyone agrees upon.  There are some disadvantages to this model and they are:

  • Therapy is direct (i.e. hands on) and isolated
  • Decisions are driven by orientation of each individual discipline
  • Perpetuates idea students with severe disabilities attend school to receive therapy rather than educational services.
  • May receive limited service do to limited therapy time
  • Difficult to collaborate.

Transdisciplinary team model is where each specialist interacts with other specialists to provide services.  This method the team pools knowledge and expertise form all members of the team  so that the entire group can best meet the intervention and assessment needs of the student.  A special education teacher may teacher an general curriculum in the classroom with the general education teacher who may suggest accommodations for a specific need for their student with special needs.  Some of the major features of this model are:

  • Indirect therapy approach
  • Joint assessment
  • Cross-categorical objectives which are “jargon busting”

To me the most beneficial team to be on for my students would be the transdisciplinary team model as everyone is included and most likely to be more involved with each other to better help the student succeed.  This is where the effectiveness of teams comes into play.



Are your teams goals clear?  Working with a team having clear goals not only help the student but the teachers and team as well.  The first step in making sure your goals are clear is to make sure the goal is a specific performance objective.  This way the team will know when the goal has been met.  But before the team even knows the goal has been met next the team needs to make sure the smaller goals are being clear and met as well this will lead to the larger performance objective being met.  Sometimes goals are not just for education you can also use smaller goals to meet a large goal at home, work, on trips etc.

There are four C’s of team goal setting and they are:

Clarity-The goal is specific enough that there is no misunderstanding about what needs to be accomplished and the team fully understands what is expected of them. With a clear goal, those working towards achieving it will know what they need to do or learn in order to meet the performance objective that they have set for the student. Clarification assures the team understands why the goal is a worthwhile and relevant one for them to work towards.

Criteria – is a unit of measure in quantity or percentage to be accomplished during a specified timeframe and agreed to by the team. Having this criterion provides regular feedback for the team along the course of the goal so they can make adjustments to their work and behaviors. Without this information, it is hard for the team to understand their reward and recognition structure, develop their plan, and ask for adjustments or help with barriers when necessary.

Challenge – The goal is a way to give the team the opportunity to show their skills and what they can do. A meaningful goal should not just maintain the status quo or accomplish a little more. Instead it should motivate the team to stretch themselves without breaking down their spirits or greatly interfering with their quality procedures or necessary routine tasks.  It is like thinking outside of the box.

Commitment – It is the team agreeing to be responsible and accountable for the goal.  The whole team must be committed and accountable for the goal.

After the 4 C’s the team needs to make sure that all their need are being met.  When I think about team members needs being met I think about my family.  Why is it that some family members are really close while other are fare apart?  Well I have come to realize that they are meeting each others needs better then others.  It works the same way in a team.  We want to make sure that all the team feels valued, included and respected.  now there may come a time when some of the teams needs may not get met but remember that they are still valued as they may come up with the next big goal that will work.  Along with this all members need to be accountable for their actions and their part of the goal that they are going to work on with the student.

Remember that it does take a team to help a student succeed.images9QT5SXWK

How to apply and use FERPA in your own classroom

untitledHave you every wondered if you are using/following the FERPA regulations in your classroom and what they are?  Well I am on the road to become a teacher myself so yes I do need to know if I am following the FERPA regulations in my own classroom and what they are, how to apply them and  now is the time to start.

First WHAT is FERPA?  Well FERPA stands for (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) it is a federal law that affords parents the right to have access to their children’s education records, the right to seek to have the records amended, and the right to have some control over the disclosure of personally identifiable information from the education records. When a student turns 18 years old, or enters a postsecondary institution at any age, the rights under FERPA transfer from the parents to the student.

FERPA applies to these educational agencies:

  • Elementary
  • Secondary
  • Postsecondary

Who receive U.S. Department of Education funding.  So in other words if you are going to work for a school FERPA must be followed.  FERPA provide that educational agencies and institutions that receive U.S. Department of Education funds may not have a policy or practice of denying parents and eligible students of the rights to:

  1. Inspect and review education records within 45 days of request
  2. Seek to amend education records believed to be inaccurate
  3. Consent to the disclosure of personally identifiable information from education records, expect as a specified by law.

Educational agencies must annually notify parents and eligible students of their rights under FERPA.  This is good to know with for all of us that are just starting out as new teachers.  What if your institution/school does not inform parents and eligible students of their rights annually this can come back to be a problem for the school and maybe us teachers as well.  I would want to check/ask my school if they  following the law under FERPA that informs parents and eligible students of their rights each year.

So now that we know what FERPA is lets get into how we can use it in a classroom setting.  Here is a video that I found to be very interesting as it is a scenario of teacher talking about a student but does not realized that she violated FERPA regulations.

So the one teacher did not realize that she just violated FERPA law when she was talking to the other teacher.  This is where some teachers get into trouble.  As a new teacher it would be wise when I am in my own classroom to think about the information that I am giving out.  First I would either need to have the parents consent or the students consent to give out the information but it also depends on who wants the information.

Here is another great video that has some scenario’s for teachers in classrooms that don’t really understand what is protected by FERPA.

Remember these scenarios are not just for use in the college classrooms they can also be used in elementary and secondary education as well.  More and more schools are using social media and technology in their classrooms as well.  For example lets say that two teachers are e-mailing each other about the performance a common student would that be a FERPA violation?  No it is not a FERPA violation because this document would not be considered an educational record because it is not maintained by the school. Sole possession does not hold here because two faculty members are involved.  There are two court cases that will help with this understanding:

In 2009 a California case sided with the school after a student tried to sue after his school refused to release e-mails under IDEA.  The court ruled that e-mails are not educational records under FERPA because they are not maintained by the school unless somehow they are placed in the students files.    Another case in Florida where a professor released from teaching duties ask his college to see on e-mail between a former student and his supervisor.  The college said the student is protected under FERPA but the court overturned the colleges decision ruing that an e-mail is not a student record.

Another court case in Florida where a professor released from teaching duties asked his college to see an e-mail between a former student and his supervisor.  The college said the student is protected under FERPA but the court overturned the colleges decision ruling that an e-mail is not a student record.


When you are finally in your own classroom just remember if you don’t want it reviewed do not write it down.  Also remember that to release student records/information you must get consent from a parent or student if the student is 18.

pitfallThere are some pitfalls and complaints that teachers need to watch out for as well.  They are:

  1. Complaints of alleged failures to comply with FERPA.  The parents/student if 18 must be the one who suffered an alleged violation of his or her rights under FERPA in order to file a complaint.  Parents must give reasonable cause to believe that a school has violated FERPA.  The parents must give a timely complaint (180 days) of the date that they known of the alleged violation.  (Remember complaints that do not meet FERPA’s threshold requirements for timeliness are not investigated.) If it is determined that the schools violated FERPA both the school and the complainant are advised and the school is informed of the steps it must take to come into compliance with the law.  The investigation is closed when voluntary compliance is achieved.
  2. 87ae0bc3dc26e73bd2aac5fdccbba197Complaint Regarding Amendment:  When a parent believes that the school has violated FERPA by not letting the parent with an opportunity to seek amendment of inaccurate information on their child’s education records or failed to offer the parent the opportunity for a hearing on the matter.  The parent needs to fill out a FERPA complaint form and include the following information: the date of the request for amendment of the child’s education records; the name of the school official to whom the request was made (a dated copy of any written request to the school should be provided); the response of the school official; the specific nature of the information for which amendment was requested; and the evidence provided to the school to support the assertion that such information is inaccurate.
  3. Complaint Regarding Access:  When a parent believes that the school has violated FERPA by failing to comply with the parent’s request for access to their child’s education records.  The parent needs to fill out a FERPA complaint form.  Parents will need the following information: the date of the request for access to the child’s education records; the name of the school official to whom the request was made; the response of the school official; and the specific nature of the information requested.
  4. Complaint Regarding Disclosure:  When a school improperly discloses personally identifiable information on a child’s education records.  Parents must again complete a FERPA complaint form and include the following information:   the date the alleged improper disclosure occurred or the date the parent learned of the disclosure; the name of the school official who made the disclosure, if the parent knows who it was; the third party to whom the education records were disclosed; and the specific nature of the information disclosed.

If parent and teachers follow the FERPA law and regulations the hopefully the teacher and staff of the school will not have to have parent file complaints and worry bout violating the law.




Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Retrieved February 2, 2016; From U.S. Department of Education; website:

Legaldigst [legaldigest]; (2010, Jun 4) The Law of Student Records or… FERPA Guy Explains it to you retrieved

Kettering University (2014, July 2) FERPA Scenario for Faculty and Staff  retrieved

Final Blog for semester

This semester has been fun learning about all new things and ideas to use in a classroom.  From using podcasts, Independent learning project, digital story, Piktograph, and even using TED talks.  With so much out there to use to help our students and ourselves teach and learn how can we not want to learn about what is new to use out there.

Looking back at my blogs what I have found that I have written in most of them is that I always try to think of ways that I can use what I have learned in my future classroom someday.  I want to be the best teacher that I can be and by using what I have learned I just might make that dream come true. I also blogged about how to make things easier for students to learn and how we can improve their learning.  I think that using the TED talks and finding ones that have to do with what we are trying to teach our students is the best way to go.  I also blogged on how helping our students improve on how they think the we can make school more technology friendly and wanting to use technology in the classroom.  From my Independent learning project I have learned that sometimes we just need to let our selves learn something that we always wanted to learn about.  This is the same for students they can fell that we (teachers) only want to teach them what they think is important.  By letting students learn something new to them will make them more interested in learning.

What I have found most surprising about rereading my blogs is that I do seem to put others before me.  I seem to want to help students to the best of my ability.  I do believe that the nature of my post have changed of the past 15 weeks as I have see that I have become more confident in my writing and what I want to say.  When I first started blogging I was not sure how this class would go and how I would type what I really wanted to say and who would really want to read them.  Now that I have had some experience and some great feed back on my blogs that have given me great ideas that I have never put into my blogs.

From this class I have learned a lot of new and exciting things from embedding a youtube video, to posting on twitter.  I really enjoyed this class and hope to keep learning more in the future about technology and how to use blogging in the classroom.  What surprised me when I reread my post is that I am becoming a strong writer and blogger.  I have become one with the blog to say.  I think that I will continue to blog and post new things than I keep learning.  I am still a student and probably will always be a student.  By this I am saying that we all learn something new everyday about ourselves, family, friends, work, etc. and that is how we all be students.   I do believe that my best blog was with the TED talk about the internet tattoos and how what we post on the internet will always be there no matter if I try to delete it.

I just want to say that this class has been one of my favorites this semester this year.  And I hope that I can continue to learn more.

Also I am posting the Course work Audit sheet to this blog as well.


Unlearning and Innovator what i think of me

Will Richardson’s “The Unlearning Curve”  While reading this blog I thought a lot about what he said that we have to unlearn.  We do need to unlearn that the traditional schools are not cutting it anymore and that we need to start thinking of how we can make schools more technology friendly.  With the internet, smart phones, tablets, etc. our children are starting to teach us.  Like Will Richardson’s blog says “We need to unlearn the premise that we know more then out kids; because in many cases they can now be our teachers as well.”   This is so true today with every new technology that comes out I fell that our students will know more about it then what we will know.  I have to remember when I am teaching that I have to unlearn that we are not in the old times where teachers know everything that maybe I can learn more from my students then they may learn from me.

Photo CC-- Simon Greening
Photo CC– Simon Greening

Being an innovator has to be able to change what we think or see.  We have to be able to see that our students are learning more from us by using the internet along with IPad/iPods etc., in the classroom.  “believe that my abilities, intelligence, and talents can be developed, leading to the creation of new and better ideas.  Focus not only on where I can improve, but where I am already strong, and I look to develop those strengths in myself and in others.”  These quotes come from George Couros’s “The mindset of an Innovator”  What he is saying here is that we need to believe that we all can do something amazing, like for example I want to become a teacher.  I need to believe in myself that everyday my students are taking something away from me when I teach them it being math, science, reading, or any other subject.  What I am teaching my students is to believe that they can complete their tasks.  Who knows they may even teach me something about myself as well.  They may even find something online that I do not understand but they do.  Being a teacher we are Innovators.  We are always improving ourselves and out students and who knows maybe even the lives or our students parents.

Daily Creates 18 through 28

Ok I keep forgetting to post these so I added some more daily creates to this one.

Daily create 18 April 25th  Create a photo with object that have meaning to me.

things that have meaning
things that have meaning

Daily create 19 April 26th Shipwrecked 30 recording (make a recuse recording with only 30 seconds on the tape.)

(could not get my recording to post so I typed out what I said)

“Help save me I am trapped on a island with purple monster chasing me!  I’m some where in the Atlantic.”

Daily create 20 April 27th  Make a bridge

My famous bridge
My famous bridge

Daily create 21 April 28th You are a flake (Draw a flake)  This one was fun to do I used a snow flake that I made when I was in high school as I thought it was the best one.

My flake
My flake

Daily create 22 April 29th

What’s in your Pocket?  With this daily create you had to write a story about what was in your pocket and this is what I came up with.

What’s in your pocket?

Once upon a time in the little town of pocketville there was a little piece of lint named Fuzzy.  Fuzzy had a friend named Key that went to something but forgot where he came from.  Key and Fuzzy played every day in the town park until one day when along came Key chain to take Key away.  Fuzzy ran as fast as he could, he ran all the way to the outskirts of town.  Fuzzy was very sad as Key chain did take Key away.  Fuzzy wonder around town for a long time.  When all of the sudden there was a big rain storm, then a tornado forms.  Fuzzy was lifted into the air and wash away.  Who knows where Fuzzy went maybe someday he will appear again in some one else’s pocket town.

            To this day if you look into your pockets you may just find Fuzzy and he will have new friends again.

Daily create 23 April 30th

What did @ecodog catch while fishing in the Grand Canyon.  With this one you had to take their photo and instert something into it to show what the man had caught in the Grand Canyon.

Look what I caught mom
Look what I caught mom

Daily create 24 May 1st  Absence Art Poster  With this daily create you have to remove all people from a movie poster and fill it in.  The poster that I did was a John Wayne movie Hell fighters.

poster photo 1

Daily create 25 May 2  Photo car has it own face

I can see you
I can see you

Daily create 26 May 3rd  A Photo of a special Door

special door          special door 2

Daily create 27 May 4th Cellular  With this one I decided to be creative and draw a jail cell instead of an animal cell

Cell photo

Daily create 28 May 5th Are you crazy

with this daily create I had to take a picture of an animal doing something crazy so I used my dog and son Jason

this is how my dog Tanner Sleeps
this is how my dog Tanner Sleeps