Special education

A Principal’s Day Through the Lens of an Advocate

I started my day at Loudoun County High School (LCHS) in Leesburg, VA, feeling excited and a little nervous at the same time. Although I spend most of my days speaking on behalf of principals and advocating for their interests on Capitol Hill, I myself have never been an educator. And the last time I sat in a high school classroom was more than 20 years ago.

I was thrilled that LCHS Principal Michelle Luttrell was so quick to accept my request to shadow her for a day as part of our annual National Principals Month celebration. (more…)

Advocacy Update

There’s Still Time to Participate in National Principals Month!

Another National Principals Month (NPM) is officially in the books, but you can still enjoy the month’s events on the NPM website. There you can find student video contest winners, a recording of the NPM Capitol Hill event, recordings of webinars, and much more. Afraid you missed your chance to recognize your principal now that October is over? Don’t worry—you can still send your school leaders e-cards, or use #ThankAPrincipal on social media. Help us honor principals all year. (more…)

Breakdown of the FY 2017 Omnibus

Earlier this month, the House and Senate passed a $1.1 trillion omnibus bill which will fund the federal government for the remainder of FY 2017. This funding package comes after weeks of concern over a potential government shutdown due to President Trump’s demands over including funding for a border wall and other controversial policies. Congress was even forced to pass a one week continuing resolution to provide more time to strike a deal. In the end, the White House rescinded its earlier demands, which allowed appropriators on both sides of the aisle to come together with a long-term compromise. (more…)

A is for Autism: Strategies for Success

Guest post by LaChan V Hannon:

If most educators are anything like me, we experience a range of emotions on any given day. Sometimes, we are confident. Sometimes, we need the collaboration of our peers to make sure we are on track, and sometimes, our efficacy leaves much to be desired. And when we pause long enough to exit our own minds, we remember… our students. They are the reason why we fret. They are the reason why we learn. They are the reason why we grow. We want to make every student feel the way we do about learning. That simple thought is inspiring. It rejuvenates us, confirms our purpose, and drives our goals.

Each of our approaches to learning is different. Maybe you can remember the exact moment you realized a teacher was teaching just for you. Maybe you can remember the moment you realized your learning difference was no different at all. Or maybe you can remember a moment when all was right in the world because your teacher knew and understood something about you that others often misunderstood.

That moment of realization and understanding reshapes the experience our students on the autism spectrum have when they encounter a teacher that is flexible in his/her approach, strength-based in his/her perspective, student-centered in his/her practices, and supported by his/her team. Someone once told me, “when you meet one student with autism, you’ve met ONE student with autism.” Their complexities, idiosyncrasies, learning styles, and personalities are as varied as the myriad colors of human faces.

But how do I, as a regular education teacher, best support my the student with autism or Asperger’s—the one that tests too high for pull-out replacement, yet struggles with the inferential skills needed for text complexity and the nuances of language? The one whose parents insist he can be successful if the teacher would just… (fill in the blank)? The one whose disruptive behaviors require more attention than the school day allows?

Here’s how:
I must first remember that I am not alone in my classroom; my classroom is full of students; that all students have needs; that all their needs are different; that different needs represent diverse levels of understanding; that diverse levels of understanding require multiple strategies of instruction; and that mastering understanding demands various demonstrations of learning.

What learning—the process and the outcomes—looks like differs from one student to the next. And so might our expectations. I would argue that if a regular education teacher is able to meet the needs of a student with autism in his/her classroom, he/she is prepared to meet the needs of all the students in the regular ed classroom. From where I sit, both traditional and vocational institutions could benefit from learning about and from our awesome students on the autism spectrum.

LaChan Hannon (@LaChanHannon) and Rose Mary Pirozzi will come together on Friday, February 7 to present Strategies for Success: Supporting Teachers of Students with Autism in Inclusive Classrooms at Ignite ’14 in Dallas. For more information and to register, visit www.nasspconference.org.



A Principal’s Guide to Special Education

Guest post by David Bateman:

I sincerely wish there was not a need for this presentation in Dallas. I wish that ALL students learned their subject matter easily, that no students had difficulty getting along with others, and that no students had disabilities preventing them from fully participating in school. I also wish that all teachers understood exactly what they needed to do for students who struggle with learning, and that parents of students with disabilities understood their roles and responsibilities in making sure all students receive a sound education.

But this is not the case. There are students who have great difficulty with learning. There are students who require aides or paraprofessionals to make it through the day, and there are students who will require life-long supports. There are also teachers who do not want to work with students with disabilities because of concerns that such students may get in the way of their lessons or take more time than other students to learn material.

Students with disabilities do no wake up every morning thinking about ways to make the jobs of educators more difficult. This presentation at NASSP is based on a book designed to help principals meet the needs of students with disabilities, and to make sure the services necessary are provided. It is also designed to help principals lead teachers, work with parents, and understand the different rules relating to discipline that apply specifically to students with disabilities. I realize many principal training programs do not include much specific content related to students with disabilities, and this book is designed to help fill that void.

The book is organized around eight very important themes. Each theme will be addressed in greater detail in the presentation and in the book.

  1. The principal is responsible for the education of all children in the school
  2. The principal needs to know special education
  3. The principal needs to make sure that staff know what is necessary for special education
  4. The principal needs to check on staff to make sure they are implementing services for students with disabilities
  5. The principal should lead efforts for data collection
  6. The principal should make sure ALL staff are aware of the process for identification of students with disabilities
  7. The principal may have to lead meetings related to services for students with disabilities
  8. The principal needs to know all students in the building and be ready to talk about them.

David Bateman will be presenting A Principal’s Guide to Special Education: Helping All Students on Saturday, February 8th at Ignite ’14.  For more and to register, visit www.nasspconference.org.