Friday, September 11, 2015

September 10, 2015

Special Education Parent Night - Sharing on Social Thinking

Excellent Week 
at Howard-Winn!

We had an excellent week at Howard-Winn! It started last Friday with a big football win and will end this Friday with our fall Fun & Fitness Day, remembering to commemorate our nation's heroes and those fallen on 9-11. For my weekly update, I will outline our first Special Education Parent Night as well as highlight our junior high Success Initiative ~ Capturing Kid's Hearts. 

Special Education Parent Night
Thursday, September 10th

In the weeks preparing for the Special Education Parent Night, I knew that the evening would be inspiring, but it was even better than I had hoped. The group of ten parents who gathered gave insightful ideas and constructive criticisms as we discussed our "Likes" and"Wishes" for our special education program. The feedback was honest, insightful and given by passionate parents who were thinking of the children we serve today and will serve tomorrow.  

Parents sharing their "Likes" and "Wishes" for our
Special Education Program
The best part, however, was when each of the parents introduced themselves and shared about their children. As they stated who their names were, they went on to outline their children's strengths, struggles as well as the growth they had made with the supports of Howard-Winneshiek's teaching staff - special education teachers, general education teachers and support staff. Perhaps it was just me, but I could feel a bond grow between us. It was (for me) the best part of the evening as we laughed, discovered common ties and heads nodded with understanding when struggles were shared.  

We ended the evening with a short training on executive functions and the role the frontal cortex has on the cognitive and behavioral aspects of children's lives. The parents also had an opportunity to fill out an informal executive functioning questionnaire, examining their children's strengths and weaknesses. There were a lot of positive comments and "Ah-Ha" moments as we discussed the brain's role in learning and behaviors. The exciting part, is that executive functions can be taught. They are a SKILL that our special and general education teachers, as well as associates, can teach our students to make significant changes in every aspect of their lives. Here are some of the "Likes" and "Wishes" from the meeting:

  • Love the IEP Meetings! Great collaboration ~ special education teachers really care
  • TeamWork with general education & special education teachers, associates, administrators
  • Excellent Communication
  • Parent's Time is recognized as valuable
  • Opportunity to get extra help when my child needs it
  • The IEP goals and accommodations are followed
  • Inclusion - not segregating students (Core+More)
  • Incorporating Technology - visual needs/sensory issues are minimized
  • IEP Written Plans - are well written and very detailed
  • Associates are so important! Appreciate having them and they are very important
  • Transitions Class - Love this new addition to our high school programming
  • Focus for Special Education is on improving and growing the program
Explaining Expected & Unexpected Behaviors
Brain Based Strategies to Support Behavioral Needs

  • Would like more training for Special Needs - Specifically Autism
  • Summer Tutoring for surrounding areas - Lime Springs/Elma/Chester
  • Behavioral Programming - Would like to keep our children here - not Decorah
  • Stigma - Parent voiced concern about stigma's attached to students w/behaviors
  • More Strength-Based Educational Opportunities
  • Adaptive P.E. - Social Interaction - Smaller Groups - Less Competitive
  • Social Groups - After School Groups and Programs 
  • Longer Parent/Teacher Conferences - IEP students

Success Program Update


                Capturing Kids' Hearts

The Junior High Success Team have been utilizing an exciting program with our 7th & 8th grade students for the last two years. Yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to experience Capturing Kids' Hearts. As I walked into Mr. Wiley's study hall, Seth Larson walked up to me and put his hand out to shake mine. Mr. Wiley explained to me that a student is assigned every day to shake any person's hand who walks into the classroom and greet them. It was really impressive! As I looked around the room, I noticed there were posters created for each hour of the day with class expectations written on them.

The Social Contract has 4 questions that students answer in small groups and then come back and agree to them as a whole. The questions are:
#1 How would you like to be treated by me ~ leader of the group?
#2 How do you want to be treated by each other? 
#3 How do you think I (leader) want to be treated by you? 
#4 How do we want to treat each other when there is a conflict?

This Contract was Created by Mr. Wiley's Home Base
Very cool!

Have a great week everyone!

Terese Jurgensen

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