Our Special Education Team is Redefining Possible: A Day in the Life of our Learning Lab Specialists

Our campus special education teachers – Learning Lab Specialists – have a critical role at YES Prep. Not only do they work with our special education students in order to meet their various needs, they also collaborate closely with other teachers to provide powerful support. Take a look!
7:35 am
Anh gets to start her day on a personal note with individual behavioral check-ins with two middle school students. They check homework, review behavioral trackers, and create one behavioral goal to accomplish by the end of the day. It’s a great way to get her students positively motivated for the day!
8:00 am
Kareesha and Gavino are teaching a 1st period reading intervention class to a small group of high school students. The small group allows her to tailor her instruction to their specific reading needs, build foundational skills, and provide additional practice opportunities that allow students to increase their skills and confidence in the rest of their classes.
Meanwhile, Rozmin has an ARD meeting for one of her students. At ARD meetings, Learning Lab Specialists meet with a student’s parents and teachers to discuss their progress and make decisions about their educational plan for the coming year. Prior to the meeting Rozmin gathers teacher feedback, the student’s current grades, and checks in with the student. After the meeting, there is plenty of paperwork and data to finalize and log – not the sexiest part of the job, but essential for tracking student progress and making sure everyone is held accountable to meeting student needs.
9:00 am
As the math point person on the team, Rozmin checks in with a 7th grade math teacher to talk about supports for a struggling student and make a plan for how to modify assignments for the upcoming unit.
Two students come to the Learning Lab from their 9th grade English class to get individual support on a writing assignment from Anh. Having already met with the teacher, Anh knows what to work on with the students and will update the teacher on their progress while they were with her.
9:30 am
Kareesha pops in to observe a social studies teacher implement an intervention they planned together the previous day. Observations are a consistent part of Kareesha’s role and she uses them not only to coach teachers, but also to identify campus-wide trends around what’s going well and where teachers need more support working with special education students.
Gavino is the point person for high school science and spends this block meeting with the physics teacher to help incorporate appropriate modifications into a lesson as well as determining how best to modify an upcoming assessment for two particular students.
9:45 am
Rozmin does “push-in” support in a sixth grade math class. During a “push-in,” an LLS joins special education students in their class to offer in-the-moment support. In this particular class, there are three target students and Rozmin sits with them throughout class, clarifies any misunderstandings along the way, and monitors their work during practice time in order to offer praise and feedback as necessary. This is definitely one of the highlights of her day!
10:00 am
Time for some more paperwork! Kareesha takes this block each week to track what supports each special education student has gotten over the past week and make sure it’s aligned to their Individual Education Plan. She also checks the calendar to see which students are due for an ARD meeting so she can contact parents to schedule it and begin preparing for it.
10:45 am
It’s 4th period and Anh has that earmarked as planning time. She goes over the reading lesson she’ll teach to a small group later in the day and works on lesson plans for her reading intervention class.
While Anh plans, Rozmin works in the Learning Lab with a sophomore who has come for extra help on his Geometry work. She also checks in on another student who needs to take his assessment in a quiet place. Gavino is reviewing the current chemistry unit since he’ll be supporting students with that content later on today.
11:15 am
The lunch rush begins! During lunch it’s typical for students to come into the Learning Lab with their lunch to get homework help. Kareesha, Gavino and Rozmin are all helping individual students today. Anh has also scheduled a brief reading tutorial with a student prior to an upcoming assessment. The student brings a couple of friends who also want help and so it turns into a little study group.
12:45 pm
Study hall is beginning for middle school students and Rozmin and Anh both have students to check in with. Once per week students of concern get a one-on-one meeting to check in on homework, look at updated grades, and determine a focus for the upcoming week. Their focus and notes are recorded on a tracker each student has that serves as a communication tool between the Learning Lab Specialists, the student, the parents, and the rest of the grade level teachers.
1:50 pm
During 7th period, Anh pulls a small group of sixth graders from their reading class to work on fundamental reading skills like decoding and fluency. For students with significant gaps in their reading skills, this sort of targeted work is essential to catch them up.
This is Rozmin’s planning period. Today she needs to go over the lesson plan for her “push-in” class tomorrow and also create a modified version of a math test for a new teacher. Tomorrow she is meeting with the 9th grade level teachers and so she goes over her notes and data for the freshmen special education students in order to prepare for that meeting.
2:30 pm
Once per week, Kareesha attends the Instructional Leadership Team meeting. This team collects and analyzes student data, observes teachers, and engages in conversations to establish campus-wide policies and practices on everything from grading and homework to curriculum differentiation.  
Anh is providing extra support to individual students in the lab during this block today while Rozmin prepares for an upcoming ARD by reading a student’s current evaluation report.
3:15 pm
Every day during 8th period, Anh teaches her middle school intervention class. This is a personal favorite of hers as she gets to work through a novel with the students. Right now they’re reading Trino’s Choice and focusing on comprehension strategies and character development.
Rozmin is closing out the day in the Learning Lab with a small group of Algebra 1 students and it’s time for a chemistry review lesson for Gavino and 3 sophomores.
Dismissal time!
Anh and Gavino head out to bus duty while Kareesha and Rozmin monitor the hallways as the students head home for the day.
After school?
Rozmin heads home to pick up her own children while Kareesha decides to stay for an hour or so to finish up a few more things. Gavino, the middle school boys’ soccer coach, is on his way to the field. Anh updates two student files, grabs Trino’s Choice so she can reread Chapter 7 tonight, and then heads to the gym for a quick swim before dinner.
The work of a Learning Lab Specialist is dynamic, strategic, and student-centered! Each campus designs their team to best meet the needs of their particular student population so that all students are supported. Our Learning Lab Specialists play a critical role in ensuring our students with special needs are set up for success in middle school, high school, and beyond.
Sound like something you’d be interested in? YES Prep is hiring Learning Lab Specialists for the 2015-16 school year! Learn more and apply here!

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