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Melanie Trzeciak

SED 560
Special Education Observation

What does parent communication look like in regard to students with IEPs and GIEPs?
 Ms. Bennett replied that she Emails- all the time, when it is time for renewal she has
them sign up on a google form and to fill out information to submit to her privately. She
also calls parents about needs in student’s schedule. Mrs. Bennett shared that her go-to
time saving strategy is the Remind App. This app lets her send out messages to all of the
parents anonymously to keep them in the loop.

How does WHSD help students prepare for their life after high school? Specifically through
transition services?
 Ms. Bennett usually works with Gifted Students, therefore there are no legal transition
plans. Even with no legalities, she encourages students to think about where they want to
go in the future and sets up opportunities to shadow professionals, reviews essays for
students who have early admissions, and encourage them to completed an interest
inventory. Once of her most exciting shadow opportunities was with a student who was
observing a vet perform a total knee replacement surgery.

What types of universal screenings do you use in your district?

 Of hand, Ms. Bennett could not think of specific universal screenings for middle
schoolers, but she did share about a back to school survey to help know the students and
an optional depressing screening to promote the schools drive towards positive
emotional health.

What are some ways that you differentiate instruction for inclusion students?
 While working with students at varying instructional levels, Ms. Bennett differentiates
instruction through questioning. She does not ask students more or less questions, but
rather more challenging or deeper questions. She also advocates for harder assignments
and starting with the hardest problem and not doing the rest if you could successfully
complete the most difficult problem. She believes that the largest problem in working
with special education students is the students not being challenged enough.

How are teachers made aware of a student’s IEP or GIEP, and are there any meetings or
communication to help teachers provide to the students’ needs?
 Ms. Bennett attends grade level team meetings to ensure that the teachers do not have any
questions about her students, and to make sure that her student’s needs are being met. She
also visits teachers during their preparation period to discuss any concerns.

What is your educational background?

 Ms. Bennett attended college to obtain an Elementary Education Degree/Certificate, but
returned to school to become certified to teach special education. Ms. Bennett has a child
who is gifted, which helps her know how to advise and help the gifted students in the
school reach their fullest potential.

How do teachers help students meet the graduation requirements and reach their fullest potential
for post-secondary life?
 For struggling students, the school typically waves some requirements through IEP. For
example, all students need to pass the Keystone to graduate, but occasionally they write
in the IEP that the student will not be required to pass the Keystone to graduate.

How are special education students included in the school community? Classroom placement?
Inclusion classes? Assemblies?
 At Westmont, all of the students are included in the school community. They feel
encouraged an all students talk to and spend time with each other. Sometimes gifted
students underplay their intelligence, to fit in, but they also don’t want to work with
students that can’t pull the same weight so occasionally they struggle in a typical
education setting.

If you could change anything in special education and the education of students, what would it
 Ms. Bennett loves working in a creative environment that allows the students to fail in a
judgment free environment. She wished that more teachers would use activity based
learning, specifically for gifted kids, to help them solve problems rather than being told
the solution to the problem.

How do teachers support each other while working with students who have disabilities?
 Teachers differentiate their homework or projects to help students access their instruction
level of the material. The teachers also let Ms. Bennett take them out of class one period
a day to work at their level. The teachers are really flexible to special education and are
willing to let specialized teachers help their students in any way.

What are the different environments where students are educated to provide them the least
restive environment?
 There are many ways for students to reach their least restrictive environment through life
skills classrooms, inclusion class, learning support classroom, AP classes, and accelerate
tracks for students. The school tries to help each student reach their potential by opening
their schedule up to opportunities that provide the most challenging environment for the