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Christopher Livingston

Survey of Exceptional Children


Due (9/19/17)

Special Education Interview: Lauren Penrod (Meigs County High School Special Ed.)

I wanted to preface this with saying that this interview was a lot shorter than I had

planned on it being. The teacher I had gotten in the first place (a special education teacher in the

Meigs county elementary school system seemed to be a little too busy to answer my questions in

full, but I did get a chance later to ask the same questions to one of the special education teachers

in the high school, and she was able to give me strong answers that really explained more and

added to what I had to ask. (Since I am a weak with my ability to create strong questions.) I am

at the moment waiting for a response to an email to be able to ask even more questions that

stemmed from this first interview. I will print these if I happen to have the chance before our

next class.

1. What is a normal day of school look like for a special education teacher such as yourself?

(What are a few things that people do not know or understand that you actually do?)

a. She stated that she currently teaches 5 classes (4 different preps) as teacher of record. For

those classes she has to do everything any classroom teacher does--planning, teaching,

assessing, grading, entering attendance and grades into the computer, etc. She added that

she was also case manager for approximately 30 special education students. She has to

attend IEP meetings, write IEP's, consult with classroom teachers, consult with

administrators and guidance counselors, monitor progress toward goals, complete

additional assessments and observations beyond what is already done in the classroom,

complete triennial reevaluations, and advocate for students. (All of this seems like a little

more than I would assume another classroom teacher would do.) She also admitted that
Christopher Livingston
Survey of Exceptional Children
Due (9/19/17)

she is involved in disciplinary issues when necessary in order to make sure students

receive needed services during long-term suspensions (Long-term suspensions is a

question I wish I asked more on due to the fact that we have been learning to always do

our best to keep all students in the classroom by all means we can). She continued stating

that many special education teachers provide inclusion assistance to students in the

regular classroom, (a heavy topic that we have been discussing already and I asked about

later) and although she has used this in the past, currently she is teaching students in a

special ed. setting. (In a portable building offset from the actual high school brick

building.)

2. Do you think your job is more difficult than others? (Do you think that it requires more effort

or care that is required when trying to both teach what you need to and handle special

needs? I ask this because I know that working with these students, it requires work on both

sides, and I was curious if you think that is always done evenly.)

a. She began by stating the difficulty in comparing her job to the jobs of others. Some

subject matter is more demanding than others due to EOC tests (she mentioned in math,

English, science, history) or extra paperwork (also explaining such as that required of

CTE teachers). She continued marking that other teachers are very appreciative of the

extra time and effort that she puts in since she has both EOC tests and special ed.

paperwork. One thing that surprised me most is that she said other teachers do not want

students with special needs in their classes! Also stating that some teachers resent her

even though she has no control over the fact that most special ed. students are required to

fulfill graduation requirements. (This is one comment that I will try and have her

elaborate more on if she is able.)


Christopher Livingston
Survey of Exceptional Children
Due (9/19/17)

3. How do you think your job differs when working with a music teacher, like I will be, and

their students? (We have learned many things about how to involve special needs students in

an average class, but not in something like choir and/or band. Though I am sure we will

discuss this more, I would like to know your experiences on the matter.)

a. She began by stating that she has had excellent experiences with music teachers and their

willingness to do whatever it takes to involve students with special needs in their

programs. (I remember the choral teacher there is very confident when working with

most students. If there is anyone that truly and honestly pushed me forward to becoming

a music education major, it was him.) She continued again elaborating on the music

teachers tending to have far more willingness than most to let students participate to the

greatest extent possible, both in vocal and instrumental music. They usually make needed

accommodations with little to no assistance from me. (This prompted me to write up

more questions for the next time I have a chance to ask her questions. Maybe even asking

the Choral director about some experiences he has had.)

4. What are your opinions on inclusion in classes today? (Is there a bad side and a good side,

or just one more than the other? We have given our opinions in our Survey class, but I

thought it may be interesting to hear what an actual special education teacher says on the

subject.)

a. She began how I assumed she would stating that she thinks that the entire continuum of

services should be available to students to meet their needs. Programs that require 100%

inclusion for every student for every subject often fall short of meeting the needs of all

(She gave the example of a totally blind student needing to be pulled out for Braille

instruction in the early grades, an 8 year old student who is working on feeding himself,
Christopher Livingston
Survey of Exceptional Children
Due (9/19/17)

or a 12 year old working on letter sounds will not get that instruction during regular class

instruction, and so on) (Some of this I never really thought too hard about, and gave me

enough pause to think how I would actually involve a blind student in my classroom if

that task ever actually becomes reality). She then turned the subject by stating that a

program that automatically pulls every learning disabled student out of the regular class

for all academics usually keeps students from accessing the curriculum that is age-

appropriate when most students could benefit from accommodations allowing them to

participate with their peers. (She then moved the topic into the subjectivity of IEP’s) She

said an IEP should be an INDIVIDUALIZED Education Program and there should be a

variety of services to consider. (I completely agree when it comes to that idea, but I may

have missed a few topics I should have been heavier on. I have questions planned to ask

her more about her opinions, warnings/ problems, and hopes with IEP’s)

5. Do you think there are any changes that you would make to classes that would help both

students and teachers alike? (Is there something in today's curriculum that you think is not

being discussed that should?)

a. She began with a "Personal soapbox warning" she said she does not like the idea that

every student is supposed to be "college ready" by high school graduation. (Which after

some thought and her explanation afterwards I think I may agree with more than I would

have used to.) She said she thought there are jobs where people can be productive and

earn a living that do not require the ability to complete Algebra II or Spanish II. (Though

they would be helpful in the overall understanding of the world it does not contribute to

many jobs that students will be forced into after high school.) She lingered on stating how

she could write pages and pages about her opinion on this, but suffice it to say that she
Christopher Livingston
Survey of Exceptional Children
Due (9/19/17)

knows people who make more money than she does and can't solve systems of

inequalities nor conjugate verbs in a foreign language. (I just laughed at the idea, mostly

due to the fact that it took me far too long to understand what she had said.) She finished

by stating how frustrating it is for both students and the teachers who care about them if

they end up in the same situation.

6. If there was one thing you wish more teachers, both old and new, would understand more

about special education, their students, and the teachers themselves what would that be?

a. She gave a quick answer saying that right now the main thing she would like people to

understand is that every child with an IEP is different (Unique), and that not every single

little issue in school is related to a child's disability. When a child is learning disabled in

math only, but is failing English or history, the problem is quite possibly lack of effort

rather than part of the child's disability. (After looking over much of my reports that I had

received from my mother … I think this may have been a factor with myself that my

mother threw out of proportion.) She finished by stating that if a child has been kicked

out of the parent's home and is living with a great uncle, her poor grades are possibly not

due to her ADHD and may not be solved by the special ed. teacher. (In the long run, I

think she wanted us as teachers to know that we shouldn’t be quick to judge a student.

We need to understand them, observe them, before making any clear judgement.)

I am very glad that she was able to help me with this project and I have every intention to

continue asking her more questions, because her ability to express what she knows and what she

thinks about all these subject matters really interests me. I can’t wait to have my next

communication time with her.