We decided to do this project as a team because we knew we worked well together and would view the project through a shared special education lens. When we met to decide on a good topic, we asked ourselves these questions:. Is it personally interesting? Is it relevant to our teaching assignments? Is it a significant problem?
We chose ASD because it is personally interesting to both of us. Over the last 5 years we’ve been supporting a student with high functioning autism in the general education program. Through this experience, we’ve both developed an interest in serving students with HFA in general ed classrooms. As you’ll see, the placement of students in general education classrooms is increasing and dealing with the situation is something that needs to be addressed in our schools through a multidisciplinary approach.
Next we looked at relevancy. SJUSD reports 260 students identified with autism. The district offers a range of programs for students with ASD from Special Day Classes to full inclusion sites. We’ve seen an increase at our specifically school site as well. Five years ago we only had one identified students with ASD and we currently now have five. All five of these students are fully included in the general education, some with full time paraprofessional assistance and some without. Since our school site does not have a specific program for children with autism, we are the leadership team at our school, case managing and responsible for the education of these students along with their respective general ed teachers.
The prevalence of ASD is a significant problem. In our review of the literature, we documented the increasing prevalence of autism and the increasing use of inclusive education as a model for serving this population. With one of every 150 children diagnosed with autism, there is an almost certain likelihood that every public school teacher will encounter at least one student on the spectrum in their teaching career.
In answering the three questions, is it personally interesting? Is it relevant to our teaching assignment and Is it a significant problem? we concluded that the need for a professional development plan for school teams working with fully included students with HFA or AS is an excellent project choice.
The first step in a professional development plan is to complete a Needs assessment. We designed a survey to determine if teachers were interested in learning more about students with autism. And we designed one to one interviews for administrators and teachers who will be working with fully included students with HFA and AS at their schools. The interview covers experience and knowledge of ASD. The needs assessment will drive the PD plan. When the general education teachers are well prepared, full includsion is more likely to be successful.
Our professional development plan is for the general education tecaher. Our review of the literature showed that when a general education teacher is well prepared to address the needs of students with ASD in the classroom, full inclusion is far more likely to be successful. Furthermore, as student with ASD often required multidisciplinary support and our plan allows professionals to collaborate as a team to support the teacher and ultimately the student.
Our PD plan includes 3 main parts: a power point presentation for general teachers about to receive a student with HFA/AS, a collaborative team introduction meeting of all the team members, and on going action research meetings with the same team. The first component utilized a power point presentation for teachers that explains useful information on ASD. The second component is a collaborative team introduction which includes specific information about the students learning needs and strengths and finally, the last component is an ongoing action research model that gives the teacher, the paraprofessional if there is one, and the student on going support from the special education teacher and other related professionals who make a difference in the student’s life.
In order to evaluate the PD plan we looked at three outcomes. 1. The teacher will deomonstrate an understanding of ASD and willingness to create a supportive environment. 2. The teacher will be part of the team in collecting, sharing , and analyzing the data. 3. The teacher will demonstrate consistent and appropriate use of the suggested intervention strategies. We designed specific rubrics for to evaluate the first 2 outcomes and the 3rd outcome is evaluated by a checklist. If the evaluations determine that the teacher needs further support we will provide counseling, modeling, or extra support from the paraprofessional to assist the teacher in making appropriate changes.
As a result of this professional development plan we ultimately hope to see successful inclusion experience for students with ASD at our school site. These successful experiences will result from changes in the practices of general ed teachers as they adapt teaching practices, learning and growing through the professional development plan we’ve designed.
As we look back this has been a fast ride but it has all led up to our culminating experience. We brought something we learned from every course taken these last 18 months to this project. : Backward design, equity in education, needs assessment, advocacy, multiple paths to knowledge, and of course review of the literature. We now have many tools in our toolkit Our next step will be to implement this professional plan at our school site as well as through our special education department for other schools to use to set their full inclusion kids up for success.
Deciding on A Good Thesis Topic Is it personally interesting? Is it relevant to our teaching assignment? Is it a significant problem?
Is it Personally Interesting? <ul><li>Autism Spectrum Disorder </li></ul>
Is ASD Relevant to Our Teaching Assignments? <ul><li>San Juan Unified </li></ul><ul><li>School District </li></ul><ul><li>260 students identified with autism </li></ul><ul><li>Range of programs </li></ul><ul><li>K-8 School Site </li></ul><ul><li>5 students identified with autism </li></ul><ul><li>Fully included in general education </li></ul>
Professional Development Plan For School Teams Working With Fully Included Students With High Functioning Autism or Asperger Syndrome A Project By Maria Farrace And Linda Westover Personally Interesting? Relevant to our Teaching Assignment? Addresses a Significant Problem?
Team Approach Resource Specialist Speech & Language Pathologist Parents Para- professional Administrators Specialists General Ed. Teacher
Evaluation <ul><li>Desired Outcomes: </li></ul><ul><li>1. The teacher will demonstrate an understanding of ASD and willingness to create a supportive environment. </li></ul><ul><li>2. The teacher will be part of the team in collecting , sharing, and analyzing the data. </li></ul><ul><li>3. The teacher will demonstrate consistent and appropriate use of the suggested intervention strategies. </li></ul>
Conclusions <ul><li>Successful inclusion experience for students with ASD at our school site </li></ul><ul><li>Changes in teaching practices. </li></ul>
Reflections <ul><li>Backward Design </li></ul>Equity In Education Needs Assessment Advocacy Multiple Paths to Knowledge Review of The Literature