Professional Competencies: It’s the Language
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It’s the Language Case Study
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Directions: As you read the following case study, locate instances where the professional competencies may be at play. Be prepared to share your findings.
Case Study Entering into the second half of your first year of teaching special education, you’ve finally learned the ropes of this job and are really enjoying your school community. You currently teach resource classes but also support the staff by periodically meeting with grade levels to ensure effective planning of classroom activities for students with disabilities. In your last meeting with the 5th grade team, the teachers brought up some concerns about a new student, Rose Balis. They note that she is in Miss Groeninger’s class because she is an English Language Learner, but really think she may be a candidate for testing for a disability. You promise the team that you will come in and observe Rose a few times to gauge the situation for yourself. The next week you make four observation times available to check out the situation in 5th grade. During your time in Miss Groeninger’s class you do note various tasks Rose struggles to do because of a lag in language acquisition. However, during your observations, you also note that some behaviors could signal a disability. You ask Miss Jackson to set up a meeting with Rose’s parents to discuss observations, concerns, and next steps. Before the meeting, Miss Groeninger gives you some background on the family. Rose’s parents are new immigrants from Greece and moved here to open a new part of the Balis’ family chain of stores. After Mr. and Mrs. Balis arrive to the meeting, Miss Jackson introduces you and begins to share some of the observations and concerns she has. You chime in with your informal observations and then recommend that you and Miss Jackson start to formally document Rose’s behaviors and progress to officially test for a disability. The Balis’ have listened politely as you and Miss Jackson share your experiences and thoughts. Mrs. Balis finally speaks up and says, “We thank you for your kind concern about our daughter but we are sure she is just struggling with acquiring the language. We will work more with her at home and maybe consider getting a language learning computer program. We don’t think she should be tested though, but thank you. It took us quite a bit of time to master the language and she’s only in 5th grade. I’m sure things will improve soon.” After that meeting you continue to check in with Miss Jackson to see how Rose is doing. As the quarter comes to a close, Miss Jackson shares that Rose had improvements but, again, did not pass the English proficiency test. On the school quarterly assessments she, again, scored very low, in fact the lowest in the whole class in all subjects. You decide to do another round of observations of Rose. Eventually, you come to the same conclusions as before. In fact, you now wonder if Rose’s slow acquisition of language could be due to a disability. You confer with Miss Jackson and you both decide that the situation is grave enough to reconvene for a second meeting with the Balis’. You also decide to invite the principal to the meeting as it may communicate the severity of the situation. The second meeting starts similarly to the first. Miss Jackson and you share the many observations, data, and student work that you find disconcerting. Mr. and Mrs. Balis appear unfazed insist that Rose’s English has been progressing. The Balis’ believe that once Rose begins to master the language, these fears will disappear. They also have not changed their minds about monitoring and testing. Unsure if they grasp the gravity of Rose’s situation, you convey that not testing now could have negative academic and even emotional impacts on their daugh