Something interesting about me: Hmmmm....I am trying to think of something that everyone doesn't already know! I am a happily divorced mom of two. I had no idea that teaching was going to be a career I was interested in until I started working at my kid's school about five years ago. I can't wait to have my own classroom! I come from a large family, I have four brothers and two sisters. With the exception of one sister who lives in Ashland, everyone is spread out all over the west. Thank goodness for texting! Our family keeps growing, after two more babies come in June I will have eleven nieces and nephews.

Education and career goals: I started at RCC in the summer of 2009 and spent about two years there getting most of my pre-reqs done. I started at SOU last fall. I will be happy to teach wherever I can get a job, but I would prefer to teach K-3.

What brings me joy? That's easy, it's the two crazies in the picture with me! They are the brightest, funniest, best kids ever and they make me happy everyday. Everything I do is for them :)

Greatest fear about being a teacher: My greatest fear is that I will have a student that is being abused, neglected, or has a home situation that needs intervention and that I won't see the signs or be able to get them the help they need. Whenever I see or read news stories about kids in horrific situations I always think "why did no one see this was happening?". I don't want to have a student fall through the cracks.

A time when something was extremely difficult to learn: I really struggled with math as a child, and when I started school again a few years ago I realized that unfortunately that hadn't changed for me. Just last term math 212 did not go as I had hoped and I feel extremely frustrated and disappointed in myself. I feel my issues with math will make me more sympathetic to my student's struggles and will make me work that much harder to find the most effective ways to teach math concepts.

What I want to gain from this course: I hope to obtain the tools that I need to make my classroom a successful place for students of ALL abilities!

I picked collaboration with parents as my topic because we have to have their permission in order for their child to recieve any services. It is important that they feel that their opinion is valued and that they understand each step of the process. A lack of communication can lead to misconceptions and fear on the parents part, and they may refuse services altogether. Being a parent myself I could imagine that being told that your child may have special needs would be confusing and make you feel fearful. Parents have a right to know what is happening every step of the way.

Top 5 things I learned:
1. Parents have the final say, no services can be implemented without their permission

2. The views of both parents and professionals need to be valued. They each see the child in different settings, so both of their input is equally important.

3. Parents need to keep teachers informed of any changes in behavior or performance at home. This can affect their success in school.

4. Parental disagreement with the school is usually based on misunderstanding. Mediation can be very effective to help the parents and the school come to a mutual agreement on a plan for a student. most conflicts are successfully solved this way.

5. Parents have one year to seek legal recource if they feel that the school is not fullfilling their end of the agreement.

My first choice:
This page is by the Schwab foundation for learning, and it is a great summary for teachers and parents of laws and expectations when it comes to IEPs and parent's rights and expectations.

Second choice:
Patrick and Patricia Sheehey discuss what it was like for them working with the school system when raising their special needs son, Tom. Though this article is lengthy, (12 pages) they share a lot of personal experiences and things that they wish they would have known. This is a great resource for parents and can help teachers better understand parent's point of view.

Third choice:
This site help parents realize that their feeling of fear, confusion, and anger are normal. It gives great tips on how to avoid conflict at IEP meetings and how to get the most out of them.

Fourth choice:
This is a source directed at teachers by the Council for Exceptional Children. It gives advice and guidelines about using families children's strenght to come up with a program that works best for them.

Fifth choice:
This is a video that goes along with the article by the Sheehey's where they elaborate on the points made in the above article.

Sixth choice:
This is a video of a speaker at a conference about autism about advocating for your special needs child. A groundbreaking legal case is discussed.

Seventh choice:
This a handout for parent's that Angela provided us with on Moodle that we can give to parents before an IEP meeting. It tells them how to prepare, what to expect, and how to follow up after. We should all save this for future use.

Eighth choice:
While "The Special Educator's Guide to Collaboration: Improving Relationships With Co-Teachers, Teams, and Families" is a book designed for special education teachers, all teacher can benefit from the guidance given on working as a team with other teachers and with parents.