Robyn's Case

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Robyn's Case by Mind Map: Robyn's Case

1. Principal

1.1. Significance to Me

1.1.1. A principal’s main concern should be the success and well-being of all students within the school. They also are the point of contact for many parents in terms of large-scale issues. As this situation affects multiple children in the school, the principal should be concerned about ensuring that Robyn is getting the support she needs, while also ensuring that other students are not negatively affected. Although her peers have volunteered to assist her, this is not the role a student should be taking on full-time, as it could have a negative impact on their own academic success. The principal should also be concerned about the teacher’s well-being, ensuring they are not burning out. Principals also have a say in what assistance is put in place and delegated to the student, and they play a role in the IPRC meetings.

1.2. How might I be Feeling?

1.2.1. As a principal, I would probably be upset about the situation and frustrated that more supports are not available to the child. Often, the lack of funding puts restraints on what supports a child has access to, which is something out of the principal’s hands. This would be frustrating, as I would care about Robyn’s success in school, and would want her doing as well as possible.

1.3. How might I Respond?

1.3.1. Due to the parent push-back, the concerns from the teacher, and my own knowledge of the case, I would be fighting for more funding for Robyn. I’d fight for her to get more regular supports, including an EA that can assist her rather than her peers. Since she enjoys working alongside peers, when she has her temper tantrums, I could offer her time to do a fun task with a friend under my supervision. This would also give the classroom teacher some time to focus on the other students in their class. I need to be an advocate for Robyn beyond the classroom.

1.4. Strategies/Approaches

1.4.1. Since Robyn is not working in parallel curriculum, giving her tasks to complete in class may be tricky. As the principal, I should have a space in the school that Robyn can come to when she wants to switch tasks. She enjoys working alongside peers, so this may also mean having a classmate come with her to complete their work while she completes a different task. She is in grade 6, so it would not make sense to isolate her from her peers when she wants to interact with them. It is also important to have a number of choices readily available for her so she can switch from task to task without having a meltdown. She gets bored of tasks, causing temper tantrums, so trying to be ahead of this issue will hopefully help. I can work alongside her teacher and other staff members, as well as with her parents, to come up with activities that will keep her engaged and prevent boredom. Due to her lack of support, I need to step up and provide extra assistance to her and her teacher when possible.

1.5. Plan of Action

1.5.1. I feel like the best way to go about this case is to make it a team effort. While funding and supports may not be available, other educators could help to support Robyn when needed. I do not expect that this would be necessary for all hours of the school day (although this would be ideal), but at least when she is having a hard time on a specific day. Regular meetings with the parents, teacher, and others on the IPRC team would help to ensure that everyone is on the same page for getting Robyn help. I need to continue to fight for additional support for her, in order to ensure that she is receiving the best possible education. We want Robyn to succeed, so ongoing reflection and adaptation of plans are key.

2. Student

2.1. Lack of Resources for Me

2.1.1. Over the last few years, Robyn made a big transition between having ample support and one-on-one support to having no support in the classroom, other than what her teacher and her classmates could provide. Robyn has been without an Education Assistant for at least 6 months and will not be receiving one in the foreseeable future. Without the necessary support, Robyn likely feels frustrated and not understood throughout the day, contributing to her expression of anger/needs (ie. the temper tantrums). Robyn is clearly trying to communicate that things in the classroom are not working for her, something that may be mitigated with increased support for Robyn. It is possible that having access to a resource teacher may help in the interim while Robyn’s support team try to figure out how to help her using the available resources.

2.2. My IEP/Learning Plan

2.2.1. Robyn’s IEP has been recently brought forward for review by the IPRC. We can assume that the last time there was an IPRC review for Robyn’s case, it was less than one year ago. The principal called for the review based on the regression in Robyn’s skills and complaints from parents of other children in the class. I can infer from the case that Robyn currently has an IEP with modifications, possibly one with both modifications and accommodations. Thus far attempts to present curriculum using her IEP have not been especially successful. This should be considered during the IPRC review to ensure that significant changes are made to Robyn’s plan, in an attempt to find something that will work for her. Throughout the IPRC review process, it is likely that Robyn will not be involved. Her parents will need to be her advocates. It is possible that Robyn may not even know that this process has been initiated.

2.3. Sense of Belonging

2.3.1. Robyn may be struggling with friendships and a sense of belonging right now. Her two friends have recently begun to avoid her, likely causing a significant amount of stress for Robyn. She is likely feeling hurt, lonely, and confused as to why her friends have distanced themselves so suddenly. A sense of belonging and maintaining friendships is very important to Robyn. It is probable that the changes in Robyn’s social life and contributions to the class are contributing to her tantrums. If I were Robyn, I would want my teacher to capitalize on my love for working with other people. I would want my teacher to employ concepts of UDL to design the kind of tasks that are necessary for me to be included in a way that feels meaningful.

2.4. My Interests

2.4.1. Robyn loves to work with others toward accomplishing tasks. She also enjoys visual arts. If I were Robyn, I would want my teacher to attempt to incorporate a visual art component into tasks as a modification for showing learning. It is important, however, that this is done in a meaningful way. I can infer that Robyn feels bored at school sometimes, and based on her case simply sending her away to colour would not be at all beneficial to her (nor is it good pedagogy). The incorporation of art should be respectful and purposeful.

2.5. Working Towards Independence

2.5.1. Without access to an EA, it is especially important to help Robyn build some self regulatory and independence skills. Her tantrums seem to be triggered, at least in part, by boredom or a desire to switch to a different task. If I were Robyn, it would be beneficial for someone to help teach me coping strategies for moments of boredom or frustration so that I could let my teacher know and we could work towards solving the problem. It may be helpful for a space to be established for Robyn to cool down and self regulate when she is having a tantrum (or is on the verge of one). Perhaps establishing a cozy corner of the room that houses sensory tools and reminders of calming techniques would be beneficial. The teacher could also employ UDL and engage with the whole class in conversations around self regulation, calming, and perhaps even mindfulness. All students could benefit in some helpful reminders and information about regulating emotions when tensions feel high.

3. Teacher

3.1. Significance of Issue

3.1.1. This is a very significant issue for me as the teacher as having Robyn in my class without an assistant can be very difficult to handle. Because of her limited attention span she requires constant attention and monitoring which takes away the already limited time I have with the many other students in the class who already need support. The current situation has had a significant issue on my class because we had established a routine with the girls who were helping her. But now, because the girls have decided to avoid Robyn, the situation in my class has escalated and is even harder for me to manage Robyn and the class by myself than it was before.

3.2. Feelings about Issue

3.2.1. This is a very difficult situation for me as the teacher because I would like to see Robyn succeed and be comfortable in school, but I also have my other students to think of. It is stressful and overwhelming trying to find ways to keep Robyn busy in class for long enough that I can work with the rest of the class. It is heartbreaking because I feel like I cannot offer her the education and assistance she needs to but successful. It is also very frustrating to not have an EA for Robyn, especially considering she used to have one-on-one visits with an at-home special services worker. This has also caused me to be frustrated with the Ministry and school board, because their lack of funding for EAs is what I feel is holding Robyn back the most.

3.3. Response to Issue

3.3.1. I might respond to this situation by working with my principal's efforts to secure more funding for Robyn's case. I would also try to speak with the teacher who was in charge of the special resource before the transition to the inclusion model to see if there were any strategies that might be useful to know. I think I would also try to work with the parents to develop strategies to help Robyn calm down when she is in the middle of a tantrum, so that things are consistent between her home and school life. For my own class, I would try to make a safe space that Robyn can use to calm down when she gets frustrated and also include some activities that she could use whenever she gets bored. I would also work with the rest of the students in my class to create habits and routines that they are comfortable to follow that will keep them safe if Robyn has a tantrum.

3.4. Strategies/Approaches

3.4.1. Within the classroom, I plan on approaching the problem by trying to keep Robyn as busy and involved with the rest of the class as I can. When I can, I will conduct group activities and allow students to work in partners. I plan on using random group/partner assignments so that no one student feels constantly "stuck" with Robyn but also so that she feels included and not avoided now that her friends don't want to be partners with her. I would also like to find a way to have space in the school that Robyn can go and calm down if she needs, and to plan on working with her (and the class) on emotion regulation and detection, in order to avoid her becoming destructive in my class again. I will try to approach this whole experience with a positive mindset as a learning experience because it will not make the situation any easier to handle if I am upset myself.

3.5. Plan of Action/Proposed Solution

3.5.1. At this point in time, I would propose creating a team to help support Robyn and myself/my class. Ideally, this team would be made up of myself, my principal, Robyn, her parents, a special education resource teacher, and any members of the staff who work with Robyn. I would plan on this team creating a proposal to get Robyn some extra support, even if not full time. I also plan on trying to keep things consistent within the classroom and Robyn's home life to minimize the amount of stress she experiences that might cause outbreaks and tantrums during the day. Finally, I plan on trying to incorporate different group work strategies that will help to keep Robyn involved in the class and busy during the day.

4. Case Summary

4.1. Robyn has been identified as seriously developmentally delayed. She also has severe respiratory problems. She has more limited language abilities that what would be expected for her age. She loves being read to, being part of a group to complete a task, and is most successful when paired with another student. Robyn has an IEP but does not work towards parallel curriculum.

4.2. Until Grade 4, Robyn’s education took place in a combination of development centres, at-home services, and special resources classrooms. Now she is in Grade 6 in a fully inclusive classroom. She does not have access to an Educational Assistant, and will not in the near future. For a time there were two students who took it upon themselves to help her, but they have removed themselves from that situation.

4.3. Robyn has been having frequent, severe temper tantrums and skill regression without the necessary support. The principal and her teacher have called an IPRC review to reevaluate her plan.

5. Connections to Course Content

5.1. Special Education Policies

5.1.1. The Education Act requires that all expectational children in Ontario have access to appropriate special education programs and services, and that all school boards must implement procedures for ongoing identification of learning abilities and needs. In Robyn's case, her school board uses an inclusion model of service delivery, so she is included full time in a regular classroom environment. However, it is likely that in this model ongoing identification was not a top priority, as the IPRC review was prompted by complaints by peers and parents.

5.2. Child Development

5.2.1. Having an understanding of child development is important for special education, because childhood experiences create a foundation for later learning. As educators, it is important to understand how different students learn and at what levels to teach them that meet their needs. In this case, the teacher would need to be aware that she will not be able to teach Robyn in the same way that she would teach the other students in her class. She would also benefit from considering how the one-on-one instruction Robyn received when she was younger would have an effect on her classroom behaviour.

5.3. UDL

5.3.1. UDL helps to provide access to learning for all students, based on the idea that a strategy that benefits one student may benefit all students. UDL has teachers consider pedagogical materials, technological tools, student products, and evaluations. For example, Robyn benefits from doing partner and group activities, but this strategy would benefit all students in the class, as well as Robyn.

5.4. Developmental Disability

5.4.1. DD is a severe learning disorder characterized by an inability to profit from special education programs designed for students with MID or slow intellectual development and a limited potential for academic learning, independent social adjustment, and economic self-support. In Ontario, most students with DD are included in the regular classroom with a differentiated curriculum and direct support from a resource teacher and/or support staff. Robyn has a serious DD and is not doing well in the regular classroom.