This is it; IEP day for Thomas. I have a parent input statement along the lines of the one done by Charles Fox, along with specific recommendations for goals and services. And because I do have access to the online file, I went ahead and updated the behavior intervention plan (BIP). This plan was in place when he was in kindergarten, but for some reason last year it was dropped. So his teachers hadn’t anything to look at as far as interventions which I’ll make sure that he does this next year.
Things aligned just right yesterday where I had a chance to observe Thomas in his class for about 30 minutes and talk to his teacher for just a bit. I picked a good time, because they were doing some “buddy reading” which basically involved Thomas reading to a para. Then they had some teacher-led discussion which he actually participated in. He raised his hand, waited for the teacher to call his name and then contributed to the discussion without talking about trains! She asked him some follow-up questions and he answered them all appropriately. Then it was time to right about the story in his journal, and of course this is where the trouble really started. Thomas hates written seat work because his fine motor skills are so low. He basically inherited this disability from his dad who had the same sort of problems when he was little. But getting Thomas to just get started by writing the date was a major chore. I was set to take interval data on on-task vs off-task but there wasn’t much comparison to do because he was off-task almost the entire time.
I have 2 10×10 grids on a sheet of paper, and mark O’s for on-task and X’s for off-task behaviors. I also write definitions of each on the paper, based on the activity. One grid is for Thomas and the other is for some other random student in the room as a basis of comparison. While I didn’t have a timer or stopwatch, I was able to very roughly look at Thomas, record the data, look at the other student, record the data and go back and forth. I was roughly looking for 6 second intervals, which translates into marking one row per minute.
As I said, Thomas was off task on 90% of the intervals while the student I picked for comparison was on-task almost 100% of the time. Not a good comparison, as there were other students who were off-task a lot more. I watched the para keep trying to get him to do his work by cajoling him, talking and generally trying to persuade him, “Your daddy wants to see how you can do good work!” While persuasion is good, there wasn’t much firmness in her voice at all. So after 2 minutes, I quit the data collection and went over and worked on him myself. He was trying everything he could to escape the task, including saying that he was sick and didn’t feel good. Evidently this tactic works sometimes, because it does elicit sympathy from the para. In fact, the reason I observed was because Jane called me saying they had called her. They seemed to want her to come and get Thomas, which was just par for the course as far as his behavior. The school nurse said he didn’t need to go home but the teacher or para kept pestering Jane. It just so happened I was between IEPs at the middle school, so I was able to go over for a quick visit.
Jane and I are a bit frustrated with the apparent helplessness of the teachers, but now that I see they had no behavior intervention plan to work from their difficulties make more sense. This is why we’re having more written input this year because we want to make sure future teachers and paras have some accurate information from which to work.
I’ll post more after the meeting and hopefully there won’t be much to write about. Even though y’all might find the drama entertaining, I’d rather keep that to a minimum if it’s all the same to you!