Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Specific Needs Request

As some backstory to the discussion underway in the previous entry, I thought I'd post our formal request to AJ's school for individual support. At the suggestion of AJ's current teacher, we filed a "Sp3cific N33ds F0rm" (SNF) with the school. This is our first official request for gifted education support. We had alerted the school to the probable need for services when we registered AJ for kindergarten. This year, we just talked to his teacher as soon as possible, giving her a brief overview of what to expect on the meet your teacher event the day before school started and setting up a one-on-one appointment for a few days later.

The SNF is a very general sort of form and asks parents to request what their child needs and not a specific teacher. This was fine with us, because the only 2nd grade teacher we know is retiring at the end of this year. The form is primarily intended for students with learning disabilities of various sorts. This can mean anything from dyslexia to Down's syndrome to severe behavioral problems. It hadn't occurred to us that we could file a form like this for AJ, so we were very glad that his teacher came up with it. Here is what we wrote, with the help of AJ's teacher, who provided us with some of the language we needed to get our point across to educators (I'm still not sure what the difference between modification and differentiation is):

AJ is a very bright and intellectually curious child, and in first grade has been working well above grade level in both reading and math. He needs a teacher who is willing to work with [the school's gifted teacher] to modify or differentiate the curriculum to keep him challenged, and to hold him accountable for doing advanced work. We’re looking for a teacher who is willing to give him assignments that will keep him challenged and motivated, but who will also include him in class activities so that he will not feel like an isolated “special case.” [AJ's 1st grade teacher] and his parents are happy to talk further about what has been done for him this year and what he might need in the future.

Part of the reason why all this stuff about class size is alarming is that we don't know any of the teachers and, in fact, only one of the second grade teachers is returning next year. This means that two (or three if we're lucky and they give us four classrooms) will be brand new to the school. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is just one more piece of uncertainty in the puzzle.


My Kids' Mom said...

I might just borrow your words in my conversation with our school. Pook says that "about half" of school is boring. If Johnny has six apples and Linda eats three and Billy Joe has one, how many apples had worms?

Harriet said...

Borrow away! The more kids who get the material they need, the better!