Lost in the Documentation Abyss
Stephanie Shouldis has spent the last five years as an Intervention Specialist. She wrote a blog about her concerns with all of the time she spends on paperwork and documentation, more time than she spends with teaching. Not only that, but no one ever really looked at the documents. A former special education director told her to "keep it for seven years in case the school was audited." This bothered Stephanie because she feels the purpose of documenting is to help guide our teaching.
When looking at comments on twitter one day, she noticed a lot of people mentioning the site www.livebinders.com. She dismissed the tool at first, but then read an article that explains "the use of portfolios to collect records, accomplishments or reveal areas of needed growth within the student’s work." She decided it was the perfect tool for her purpose after all, and began creating ePortfolios through LiveBinders to document student’s progress on their IEP goals and objectives.
This tool made a world of a difference in her documentation process. She can upload recordings of students reading, of her talking to them, or follow a SMARTboard recording of a student completing a problem. This saves her a lot of hassle from actually writing notes, and she finds she is more involved with the students now. Parents can even follow their child's progress through the use of ePortfolios.
It is kind of convenient that I am taking EDM310 as well as a course for exceptional children and youth. The latter course really opened my eyes to the challenges educators face when dealing with children with learning disabilities. The process of trying to take as many detailed notes about a particular student(s) can really take away from teaching the class. I commented that with the live documentation she must be relieved and also have a better detailed record of the student's needs.
She also feels there is more authenticity to her work now. She is not just taking notes for the purpose of being audited, but this process is helping the quality of work that follows. I thanked her for sharing this tool because it seems like it could be helpful in all classroom situations.
Unpleasant realities from your friend...in theory
This blog was written by LaRon Carter, a former K-12 special education teacher. He introduced the blog with a short message of a teacher being chastised for his student's failures:
"Our students suffer from your insecurities, your lack of integrity, and your lacking courage to fight for what’s right when the odds are stacked against you."
Needless to say, this is very unprofessional. Not only that, but no one likes to be singled out. Then Carter posed the question, "Would you be willing to accept accountability for your student’s failures more easily if it were a team effort – If it were written to address behavioral flaws instead of a character issue?"
In my response I said I would have been very discouraged if I received that type of message. Maybe I felt like I was doing my best to create a caring, encouraging environment. If the message was written as if it was a team effort, however, I would be more inclined to accept accountability. I feel that there is strength in numbers. When addressing a problem, there is no doubt that more than one person can benefit from its solution. And the more people working together towards the same goals, the more successful we could be.