Guest blog by Julia Brown, Counselor at Mary Jo Sheppard Elementary in Mansfield ISD.
In the old days (before inclusion, co-teach, STAAR, NCLB, etc.) there was a common philosophy in schools that students who had a ‘label’ were someone else’s responsibility. We either never saw them, or they could be shuffled off to the resource room. Even though the way we educate children has changed dramatically over the last 20 years, we sometimes have a hard time letting go of those old ideas.
Believe me, I know how stressful a job teaching is and the HUGE responsibility of accountability, but we can’t let any of our kids be brushed to the side. I have a very real fear that we have a tendency to look at labels and breathe a sigh of relief. I’ve heard teachers (not here, of course!) say things like, “he’s _________, so I don’t have to worry about his progress”. Fill in the blank with ‘sped’, ‘504’, ‘dyslexic’, ‘ED’, ‘on a tier’, ‘at-risk’, ‘a foster kid’, ‘ADHD’, ‘autistic’, ‘on meds’, and so on. I can climb up on my soap box and tell you all kinds of heart-breaking stories, but you’ve heard the same basic attitudes all before.
Please remember that RTI is a system for documentation and implementation of interventions, not a program or pathway to special education. Please remember you are the teacher of record for all your students, not just the ‘typical’ ones. Please remember special education teachers are responsible for IEP goals and objectives; classroom teachers are responsible for all the TEKS. Please remember to implement IEP and 504 accommodation plans… it’s the law. Please remember accommodations level the playing field, but don’t win the game. Please remember, these students are someone’s babies… would you want your babies to fall through the cracks? Please remember, to the world, you may be one person, but to one special child, you may be the entire world.