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Patrice Badami

About Me

Patrice Badami has a Masters in Elementary Education and Special Education. She has advocated for families of special needs children as well as for her own children with special needs.


Acorn to Tree Learn and Grow was created to help all children and their families have access to free educational and recreational resources.

Acorn to Tree Family Podcast

Podcast with Rebekah Poe – What IEPs are, inclusive classrooms, scaffolding, pre-teaching and reteaching, advocating for children with special needs

Full Episode Transcript:

Patrice Badami  0:02

Hi, this is Patrice Badami, with Acorn to tree family podcast today I have Rebekah Poe. She’s an award winning special education teacher and national teaching conference presenter with over a decade of experience in the special education field. As an educator, Rebecca focuses on providing equitable education and establishing connections to students of all ability levels in an inclusive setting. She can be found on social media, as Rebecca Poe teaching. So good afternoon, Rebecca. Hi, how are you today?


Rebekah Poe 0:35

I’m doing well. Thank you so much for having me.


Patrice Badami  0:37

Yeah, I’m so glad we have you here today, because we have a lot of things to discuss about IEPs inclusion, special education. So we’re gonna dive right in? How would you explain to a parent who has just received testing from their school that indicates that their child is in need of educational services, and what is an IEP?


Rebekah Poe 0:57

So first, I want to make sure that that parent understands that this is not a shortcoming for them or for the student, every child learns differently. And for some students, that involves access to special education services, and an IEP, I would also want them to make sure that they know that their input is almost the most valuable piece of the IEP, it’s imperative that students and parents give their input have say in the creation of the IEP, because it’s not just one teacher creating, it’s not just a special education teacher and a general education teacher creating it, it takes an IEP team, and that current is one of the most important parts of that team.


Patrice Badami 1:41

Right and in it when you have a child with special needs, it’s important for you to educate yourself and understand what perhaps classification might be assigned to them. Gets your get your outside independence in order to get validation and further information, such as the pediatrician, a neurologist, that’s always a vital thing. Because in order for you to advocate you need to educate yourself as a caregiver, I’m so Okay, when that so another another name for advocate meetings here and I’m in New York. So they call them CSE committee on special education meetings. And the type of people who actually attend these meetings include, right, they would include the child’s actual classroom teacher, a special education teacher, an occupational therapist, who’s there. There’s a speech, usually a speech therapist, and oftentimes, there’s a school psychologist, in addition to the principal, sometimes they also have parent advocates, they usually come sometimes to and not not always, but those are the type people who you might expect to be in these meetings. Um, so concerning an IEP, what exactly is an IEP? It’s an individual education plan, but what exactly does it include?


Rebekah Poe 2:55

So the IEP is going to be like you said, it’s going to be the plan for the teachers for the service providers, that shows what accommodations a student needs, what modifications, if any, are needed, what services are going to be provided, if it’s an SLP, or OT, or PT or anything like that, it will cover academic goals or behavioral goals for the calendar year hours. In Alabama, we do a calendar here. So they’re working on the same goal for the year, it can be broken down into benchmarks, or it can just be one, one whole goal. But that IEP is really laying the foundation and the framework for the type of instruction that the student will be receiving from special education teacher or general education teachers and any related service providers.


Patrice Badami  3:44

Right. Now here in New York, we do it quarterly. So it’s done differently. So that’s where what they do is they’ll oftentimes, just so parents have an understanding, they’ll do a percentage, for example, success rate of 60%, before December, etc. That’s the kind of thing that they need to understand. So they’ll have percentages, you just need to ask the team exactly what the percentage is means just in case so you’d have clarity, and to realize that they’re not going to achieve these goals within the first three months, maybe even the six months, it’s the degree to which they’re working towards the completion of that goal. Exactly


Rebekah Poe 4:23

enforced student if a student is able to achieve an IEP goal within three months, chances are that IEP goal was not appropriate for that. Right, it was probably too simplistic, too easy for them and want to make sure that our students in special education or any student really is being challenged, but not to the point of being frustrated. I want that goal to be something that they’re going to be working toward for longer than just a little bit of time, but also we need it to be attainable and achievable by the end of that IEP year.


Patrice Badami  4:53

Yeah, and a way for a parent to become involved is to speak during the parent teacher conferences. Go to the head teacher and say, Where are the difficulties with my child is experiencing. So then you yourself can assess at home and learn exactly where your child is and offer your opinion. Based on different materials you use at home, I have a lot of materials that I use at home. And of course, teachers pay teacher’s has wonderful, amazing resources from very knowledgeable teachers. So you can validate what the teacher is saying, by doing some testing at home. And it can be done in a fun way, which were oftentimes the wonderful colorful things on Teachers Pay Teachers, in addition to educational toys and books, you get there very engaging, that’s what’s important. So you can take your own time with your child in a fun way, and check on these goals that are recommended prior to the CSE meeting, and then say, Yes, I agree with that. That’s a good idea for that goal. So you can make sure your child isn’t, too they’re too advanced for that goal. And they’re not going to get as you say frustrated, because you don’t want a child to shut down. That’s very right. There’s


Rebekah Poe 6:02

a happy there’s a happy middle ground, and it can be difficult to find it. But I’ve realized, you know, with my time in the classroom as a special education teacher, the more active and involved the parents are, the more accurate my IP assessment is going to be. So I value parent input.


Patrice Badami  6:17

Oh, absolutely, absolutely. And it also bring peace of mind to that parent. My opinion is as a special education teacher, elementary teacher, and also a parent of three children with special needs. It makes you feel more in control of the situation, when you understand everything that’s going on with your child, you validate their needs, you validate that child, and then you move forward and you take your route to whatever your goal is, there’s more than one way to get to the to where you need to be so important to know. Um, okay, so what exactly, so here’s something I would like you to explain. So there’s different types of classrooms, there’s, we know inclusive, there’s, there’s self contained, there’s inclusive, could you do a little like a little elaboration on that. So parents know that different settings, and so that they understand what it means to even an integrated class. Just so they know the differences?


Rebekah Poe 7:13

Absolutely. So the self contained classrooms, students that will be in a self contained classroom typically have more low incidence disabilities. So that would be you know, like autism, Down syndrome, things like that, where it’s their least restrictive environment, is a majority of the day spent inside a specialized environment where they can really focus on achieving those goals and learning in the way that is best for them. You know, there are different levels of an LRE, that least restrictive environment. So in Alabama, a self contained student would typically be receiving 40% of the day or less in a general education classroom, and it goes up from there. So we have an A one LRE would be 80 to 100% of the day spent in the general education classroom. And those would be students that would have dyslexia specific learning disability, those higher incidence disabilities, that we typically see more, being more included in the classroom, not that students in a self contained classroom do not need to be included. That is not what I’m saying at all. But for students with a specific learning disability, chances are, they will be receiving a majority of their services in an inclusive setting. So that could be a general education classroom with a co teacher, which is what I’ve done in the past. It could also be pullout services going to a resource classroom, which is what I’ve done with my second graders, when I did middle school, I co taught with the gen ed teachers elementary school, I pulled out and did resource, right, self contained setting would be a majority of the day spent in that special education classroom.


Patrice Badami  8:49

Okay, so there’s so again, that’s self contained, where they’re in their classroom, they’re integrated into a mainstream classroom for a percentage of the day, and they’re pulled out for their academic needs generally, in order to get facilitated in an environment with less students. So they can have more concentration, and be they get more a little more attention. And so when that’s that’s the, that’s the contained classroom. So integrated classroom, just so they understand this the differences, that’s typically developing children, half of that and then have children with special needs so that they can have pure models. And then they also continue, they could continue to be pulled out or pushed in with special ed, one on one attention or in a small group. Right. And then mainstreaming is when the child is put into a full classroom, but get supports within that classroom, be it co teaching model, or a one on one, which is a teacher assistant or someone who works directly with the child redirecting refocusing and reteaching. Just so they know the difference between the different settings just wanted to go into that. What is differentiated instruction


Rebekah Poe 10:00

differentiated instruction is probably my favorite thing because it saves me as a teacher so much time. And for a lot of teachers, we, we struggle initially with the idea of differentiation, because every student is different, and every student does need something different. But with differentiation, you’re not creating separate lesson plans, you’re taking one lesson and adjusting it to meet the needs of the students in the classroom. So rather than one group of students having one lesson plan and another group getting another, it’s the same lesson plan, it’s just adjusted and slightly changed. So that it makes sense for each student, you can incorporate multiple senses, multiple learning styles, all at the same time, give some students hands on materials, if that’s what they need, you can even differentiate and make it more challenging for your students who need more of a challenge in the classroom. Right?


Patrice Badami  10:47

Yeah, that’s very important that people understand that. And what is scaffolding?


Rebekah Poe 10:52

Scaffolding that so when I do scaffolding, it’s almost like an I do we do you do approach. So I’m going to start by giving an example of what it is that I’m teaching, I like to break it down a little bit farther, instead of the three levels, I do four. So the first one, I do the example and the students watch. And the second one, I do the example again, and the students helped me out. The third, the students are the ones leading and I’m helping and then for the students are doing it on their own. And I’m checking for errors and watching to see if anything needs to be retaught. That’s for growing a student into we’re not throwing a student into, you know, this is a brand new concept for you, I’m going to show you once and then it’s up to you, we’re going to scaffold that instruction and make sure that each step of the way the student is able to follow and able to produce what we’re asking,


Patrice Badami  11:40

yeah, that’s great, just because so essentially, what you’re doing is you’re, you’re you’re holding their hand per se and then you’re letting them go at the end. And they feel confident because they see what you’re doing. So they get three different opportunities to learn. They have the opportunity to say within step one or two or even three before they’re on their own, I’m not sure about that one step can you go over it, rather than having, you know, just been told once, and then expect it to lurk Assam children have processing issues, my children have that. So what that means is processing issues means that when something is presented, it takes a little bit longer for the child to work through and take that information and turn it in their mind so that they’re able to apply it so they can listen. But they need a little bit of extra time. So they can apply what was learned for many different reasons, one of which could be ADHD. And there could be other issues as well. But the bottom line is it goes slower. And you’re you’re carefully making sure they’re supported. And then you’re giving them the ability to move forward. And if they need a little help, you can reteach it. So that’s very important that people know what scaffolding means. How does the school district determine what educational setting a student will be placed in concerning least restrictive. And we discussed that already. When it comes to seeing how they flourish in the classrooms, seeing where they’re struggling. That’s how they determine that and they they provide the supports, based on their ability to absorb the information, be it in the classroom with the mainstreaming in the support, integrated where they’re in a classroom with typically developing and children with disabilities, where they’re in an inclusive setting, where they’re rather, they’re in within children who are having difficulties with them in a small group setting. So that’s I guess that’s pretty my answered my own question. But because we already kind


Rebekah Poe 13:35

of I do want to point out, you know, a setting for a child is not one and done. It can it can fluctuate. So if if you have a student who is you know, they’re they’re struggling a little bit more, you might want to reevaluate that LRE. Or if you have a student who is succeeding and able to do more, change it to where they’re mainstreamed more, you know, it’s it’s fluid, and it changes for every student. You can’t say, well, from this IQ to this IQ score, we’re going to be self contained. And this to this, we’re going to be mainstreamed. It’s a case by case basis. And it’s really an IEP team decision. The teachers, the parent, or the Guardian, the students sometimes if it’s appropriate. Everyone is making that decision together.


Patrice Badami 14:22

Right? Right. You don’t want a child sitting and finishing the work before the other children because then there’ll be that’s not good. either. You want to do you don’t want someone struggling. But you also don’t want the quick finishers to sit there and have nothing to do because they need to be challenged. You don’t want boredom to sit in and you don’t want frustration to sit in. So you would just it like you said it’s fluid. It’s movable. Okay, so reteaching let’s quickly I’ve mentioned it a few times, but maybe you could explain once again what reteaching is.


Rebekah Poe 14:53

So re teaching I’m going to start actually with pre teaching if that’s okay. So when I had when I had students And that would come to the resource room that we, you know, in their math class, they’re going to be working on, let’s say, double digit addition, before they get to that in their classroom, we’re going to be pre teaching it. So they’re going to go in with a little bit more foundational knowledge, then once they get into that unit in their general education classroom, and they’re still coming to me, we’re going to be reteaching that so we’re going to be hitting it in the front from from the end, you know, we’re really diving into that unit reteaching is a great way to kind of fill in the gaps that students might have missed during initial instruction. So if they’re really good at part one, and they can do part three, three, but they’re having issues with part two, part two is going to be the part that we’re going to focus on the most for reteaching. And pre teaching also helps me to know, what do they already know. Because if they already have part of it down, we can skip over that and move into something a little more complex, a little more challenging for them. So pre teaching and re teaching are both fantastic tools, not just for special education teachers, but for Gen Ed as well.


Patrice Badami 16:03

Right. So pre teaching is like tapping into their prior knowledge, making sure you don’t, you’re not redundant going over past, you know, goals that are met are ready, you’re moving forward. So that’s a good thing to remember is that prior knowledge can help to move you forward. But you don’t want to waste too much time because classroom time is limited. You want to check quick for that, and then move forward. So I think that’s a great concept. How can parents help support their child’s special needs, when frustration turns into behavioral issues,


Rebekah Poe 16:36

I think having good communication with the teacher, from the get go is important. Because if if you’re talking and you’re communicating, and you’re coming up with solutions to issues before they really arise, then you’re being proactive. In the case of you know, solving behavioral concerns, it’s always better to be proactive than it is to be reactive. And if a parent knows something about their child, if they know something is going to trigger their child, give the teacher a heads up so that it can hopefully potentially be avoided within the classroom. Same for the teacher, if you see, you know, this student is really struggling in this area, talk to the parent, see if they can discuss it with their child at home. Right? Or, you know, if you’re seeing a pattern, you know, Monday mornings, Little Timmy is coming in, and he’s very dysregulated. Talk to the parent what’s going on over the weekend. Or if you’re the parent, and you knew little Timmy had a very disruptive weekend, give the teacher a heads up and know, you didn’t sleep so great. Last night, he were having a rough morning. That way the teacher knows and can be a little more aware of it. Right,


Patrice Badami  17:41

right. Yeah, and I was just gonna say also concerning behavioral issues, what you need to do is oftentimes you have to adjust whatever this and I’m talking about the parents, that if you see certain things, I was speaking to another mother that does kind of tie in, in the sense that when the when a child goes to perhaps a party, or maybe even a soccer game, or an event where there’s a lot of people, and they start to become emotional, you need to take a step back and adjust that situation. For example party, someone had asked me about this, what I suggested is if the child’s going to a party, and you know that after a while, after maybe 15 minutes, it’s too much tell the host tell the teacher also if there’s going to be a perhaps a special orientation, where they have maybe something in the auditorium where there’s small the people in the school that are there. And you know ahead that the child does become reactive, what you do is you say, Okay, we’re going to attend with the class, but then you make sure that you can pull back. And after for certain minutes, you pull away and you go and do something else. So they are attending, and they’re not feeling excluded. But yet they they’re being validated for their concerns, and what bothers them. So at the party, I would say, try to hold this mom, bring the gift, show up at the port, tell the mom ahead of time. And she did. And when they went they the child was served quickly and got the booty bag, the bag with the little toys, and immediately just left it that thank you so much, right? And then they changed the situation. So if you can change it, do so before because it’s very difficult to pull a child back once they started to have a proliferation where they’re incredibly emotional, it’s difficult to pull them back, it’s ready to prevent. So always inform your teachers have anything that you know will trigger your child. Yeah, so that’s, that’s very important. And as far as and then the same goes for the teacher, opening that communication up to the parent letting them know this is what happens at school so that everyone’s on the same page and they can help the child and support them. Okay, so what are some tips for engaging older students?


Rebekah Poe 19:53

So for your older students, you know, most of them they are too cool for school. They’re not going to want to buy into the funds tickers that you’re able to use with your elementary students, you’re going to find what interests them right now, tic toc amongst teenagers is huge. And I’ve, I’ve done lessons where the students have created tic TOCs. To explain concepts we did one where it was a math problem, if you want to make a tick tock is one minute long, and you’ve got five segments, how long is each segment supposed to rate us what the students are interested in. And the best way to find that out is by conducting a student interest inventory, you can find what they’re motivated by what they enjoy, what they’re not willing to work for what they don’t like some students love receiving public praise other students that embarrasses them. So you want to know what works for that child? What’s going to motivate that child to stay engaged and stay learning?


Patrice Badami  20:44

That’s, that’s, that’s a great idea. I understand. Like, I could just picture the child creating a tick tock on simple multiplication, and it’s engaging they and they won’t forget it, either. So that’s really great. I like that idea. So Well, how could you teach students about consequences in the classroom?


Rebekah Poe 21:04

How could you prepare them, the best way to start is through role playing and discussion. When when a conflict has occurred, and there is a consequence, that’s not time for instruction, that’s time for reaction. instruction needs to occur when the student is calm, when everyone is safe. And you’re able to control the setting a little bit. There are natural consequences, you know, you ask a child, what happens if you lean back in your chair too far, they know they’re going to fall down. So students are aware of consequences. Sometimes we just have to, you know, let them also know, they don’t just happen to other people. Right, because children, teenagers, they, they have that feeling of just invincibility. Where this won’t happen to me, this is something that happens to other people. So really just talking through, if this happens, what could potentially happen after if you’re mad at this student, and you punch them in the face? What might happen after that, well, that student will get mad at me and then might hit me back or I might get I might get in trouble. The teacher would be mad at me. Yeah. So let’s think through what are some What is something you could do instead of that I know you’re angry, I know you’re mad. But what could you do? Instead of punching? Well, I could walk away. And I can’t even tell you how many times go into get a drink from the water fountain has solved. So many cases. Just getting getting that little break to walk out of the room for a moment really helped them calm down. But yeah, just having open discussion, when everyone is being safe. When you’re role playing through situations, that’s the time to instruct,


Patrice Badami  22:43

yes, that’s a really good idea. The idea of separating themselves from that environment for a minute to see things clearly by walking out of the room. That’s something I’ve done also is let’s go for a walk, when I’ve worked with children with children, who they have their issues in the classroom, and they get overstimulated and they need to step away, essentially, just like we do as adults, we do that. Um, okay, how could you advise parents without attention seeking behavior based on your experiences in close,


Rebekah Poe 23:11

attention seeking behavior, often students who are seeking attention or seeking a connection, and they have learned that if I do this, then I get attention from this adult that I’m trying to get attention from. And often they don’t really care if it’s positive or negative, they just want that attention. So what I what I’ve done in the past is, show the student that the way to get attention is through positive behaviors. You know, we can’t always ignore negative behaviors, and we shouldn’t ignore negative behaviors. Because we don’t want to ignore a student. However, we want that student to realize, if I’m needing this attention, there are there are ways I can ask for it, that aren’t going to be as disruptive. It could be, you know, giving a hand signal to a student, you know, there’s a student who wants to answer every question. Let him jot it down on a on a piece of paper, and he can show it to you later and show you hey, I knew all of these answers. Give him a thumbs up as he’s sitting there, right there. There are ways that we can have positive attention going toward that student and show that there there are better ways to get that connection that you’re seeking.


Patrice Badami  24:18

Right. Now, something I’ve noticed when I went onto your Teachers Pay Teachers is I found a resource that can be used not just by a teacher, but also by a caregiver for children, a child with special needs. It’s your special education survival kit, a combination checklists, so there it includes checklists, data collection sheets, and IEP at a glance forms because IEP is being a mother who has seen many, many IPs from students and my own children. I like the idea of the IEP at a glance where you can see everything in one spot that rather than flipping through a lot of the IPS can be up to 1520 pages. It depends, might might have been 15 pages And it’s it’s stressful. If you want the information right now, and you want to know, where are they right now? This is a great resource. Can you tell us about it a little bit?


Rebekah Poe 25:09

Yeah. So I created the IEP at a glance formed out of necessity for my general education teachers, you know, even my shortest IEPs for students who might have just had maybe one academic goal, who were, you know, close to being on grade level, but that still needed a little bit of support. They’re still 10 pages long. And if you have, you know, you’re you’re teaching a middle school class, and you’ve got 13 kids with IEP, that’s 130 pages, that the general education teacher needs to read. And the IEP at a glance does not take away from that they still need to look through it and be familiar with it. But if you’re looking for something quickly, hey, what was this child’s reading goal? There it is, on the IEP at a glance page, there’s an area for like date of birth, personal information, academic goals are listed out like this student is working on. Like I mentioned earlier, double digit addition, the student is working on CVC words or decoding multisyllabic words, it’s also got a list of the accommodations that the student needs in the classroom, it’ll have a list of services that the student is receiving, whether it’s just from a special education teacher, whether they’ve got speech or occupational therapy, or anything like that. I also like to include the student’s interests so that the teacher knows what the student is motivated by. And then also the accommodations that are needed for assessments. You know, it doesn’t, you didn’t need assistive technology, anything like that, that a teacher might need to know quickly. They have it on one page, so they’re not having to flip through, you know, a dozen, two dozen pages trying to find the answer to one question,


Patrice Badami  26:49

right, and without being a person who has been a substitute teacher as well. So I’ve worked as a as a teacher who I taught preschool up to 21. And then I’ve also been a substitute teacher, it’s an it’s a nice thing to have, what I would do is I would clip it to the IEP, so you have the actual full IEP, because you didn’t you still need even if you’re subbing for one month, or maybe six months or a day, you need to be able to reference that IEP. So that needs to be at your fingertips. Because that’s a legal document, it’s very important for people to realize it’s a legal document, it needs to be out and available. But you can clip this in the front of it, so that you can still go back to the IEP and get more information. So if you’re subbing and you need to know right away, it’s right there. I like that idea. It’s very helpful. A lot, a lot of times when you’re subbing they’ll leave papers for you folders for you with work. But the IEP is aren’t always quite available. And it needs to be because there’s you never know, even if there’s a medical concern for a child that they have, they have to get medicine, you know, being able to go to the nurse and get whatever they need, that all would be very helpful to have right in the front. So that’s something that I think makes parents it makes it easier for parents, but also for the teachers and subs. So that’s really a great resource. And it has checklists, data collection sheets, so that you can see where they are with their goals right there. That’s also part of that packet. And I think this is just very helpful, because again, it keeps it all condensed, and then you can attach it. So yeah. What other things do you want to share with the listeners to the acorn do tree family podcast? One thing I’ll say is your Her website is Rebecca Poe teaching taught mom, and she has a teachers pay teacher’s. Is there any other things you’d like to share?


Rebekah Poe 28:42

So yeah, well, we mentioned earlier about like attention seeking behavior and different strategies for that. I don’t not sure if this is included in that special education Survival Guide, I believe it is. But part of that is also behavior strategies for different functions of behaviors. So I’ve listed what those functions can be, whether it’s, you know, trying to gain access to something trying to avoid something, trying to get that attention that we mentioned. So each, each function will have strategies that we can use to alleviate some of that negative behavior, but also replace that negative behavior with something that serves the same function. So if you have that student in your classroom, who is attention seeking, one strategy could be give that give that student a job, where they’re the student that’s passing around the paper or collecting pencils, you know, anything to get that student a little more attention in a positive way. But yeah, that that behavior guide is also included, I believe in that packet. If not, it is


Patrice Badami  29:44

very helpful. I didn’t realize it. So there’s a behavior packet is the behavior what chart which is a chart and we’ll


Rebekah Poe 29:51

call that behavior a behavior guide, but it does have its several different pages. It goes over what the functions are. We’re talking about some different strategies that you can use to alleviate some of that negative behavior and Prevention’s you can use to replace it with positive, very helpful.


Patrice Badami  30:09

So once again, the special education survival kit, accommodations checklist has data collection sheets, behavior guide. And an IEP at a glance, has everything in there to help you make your day a little easier. And make you facilitate your child with special needs, or students with special needs a little bit easier. So that’s an amazing thing. Rebecca Poe, so happy to have had you today on the family podcast. And I’m looking forward to getting this to you. All of the listeners. We’re going to have this up pretty soon, probably within the week. And once again, thank you so much to having Rebecca Powell on the on the show today.


Rebekah Poe 30:46

Thank you so much for having me. I really enjoyed speaking with you. Great

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