Rachel Grabrowski, Special Education in the Gen ED Classroom

Welcome to Connect FCS Ed, thank you so much for listening. I’m your host Barbara Scully. On today’s episode, I am so excited to share with you, a second year FCS teacher, Rachel Grabrowski. Rachel’s from the state of Ohio and she has something unique to offer all of us. Its something that I’m really excited and also passionate about, it’s Special Education. Her background is in Special Education, but within seven years of being a teacher, Rachel turned to FCS Education, but she will always be a passionate advocate for Special Education students. Join us as we talk about Special Education, what it means to teach a diverse student population.

Ready? Listen in…


•   I am going into my seventh year teaching, and I started off as an intervention specialist, mild moderate, which means I was in the inclusion setting. So you’re an inclusion teacher, going into the Gen ED classes, elaborating with the Gen teacher, so those are the students that are given the opportunity to be with their typical peers in the educational setting. So I did that for five years at the middle school and high school level, battled it, and an opportunity came in front of me to transition into Family and Consumer Sciences, I really wanted to bridge the gap between intervention specialists and Gen ED teachers and still be able to advocate for my students. So I took a leap with the support of my principal, my administrator, he’s awesome. So, I jumped into Family and Consumer Sciences. (1:23)

•   Once you get to that high school level or above at age 14, there is a section, Section Five of the IEP that focuses on transitions and future planning. And what do we do as Family and Consumer Science teachers, right? That’s where you’re touching on those independent living skills and helping them explore what is life going to be like after college. A lot of the students that we see, especially those ones from the resource room, they’re not necessarily going to go to a college or university, they’re working with independent skills, they can go and be in the school until they’re age 21, until they age out. (4:49)

•  Special education, so that relationship in that bridge between intervention specialists and Gen ED teachers is so important. Which is, again, one of the reasons why I love Family and Consumer Sciences, so I can be that support to the Special Education teachers in my building, because it’s hard. Our intervention specialists have insane case load numbers, work loads that are just completely unrealistic, but they’re doing their best and to meet the needs of our students. There’s gotta be that collaboration and those communication pieces between us to make sure that we give those students the services that they deserve. (11:25)

•   So, one thing that I would really like to share is the importance of modifying different assessment for your Special Ed population giving the same test, and I’m not talking like if you do an A-B version because you mix up the numbers, that’s not a modified task, right? Modify means that you change it to meet students needs and to measure what exactly you are hoping that they are able to master it from what you’re teaching them, right? Because when we have resource room students in our classroom, we are not expecting them to be able to convert different types of measurements, right? But, being able to identify and measuring up versus a dry measuring cup or what one cup looks like versus a tablespoon looks like, that’s more realistic for them. So, making sure that you do that and again, collaborating with that intervention specialist because that’s going to help them, and I know from being in that Special Ed, I would get these tests the day before the period that these students were supposed to take them. (15:34)

•  Okay, so I have my students, they bring them into my foods classroom for the very first time. I break them up into groups of four. So in my home, my home kitchens, I have a home-style kitchen, six units in my classroom, and we’re only able to have up to 24 students safely in our class. It’s kind of an ice breaker, but also an assessment, because we’ve talked about the different measurements and the different tools that we have in the classroom. Then they bring them over into the culinary kitchens, they then are broken up in two groups of four, they all go into the kitchen and go through all of the drawers and everything, they come back after, I don’t know, five minutes of looking around, seeing where everything is. And then, I may get a race where they then have to take everything out of the kitchen and put it on top of the counter, and then I put them in a line of four for each of the groups, and each of them are, they have to put one draw away the correct way. So let’s say Susie has the top drawer because there are four doors, Susie as the top. Terese has to run, find where these special items are for that particular draw and put it away, and then she has to run back tag, and then the second person goes and does the second drawer and does the same thing, tags for the third and forth. They’re getting used to where the tools all belong, but also they’re learning how to identify… Tell me, how can I improve that? (23:46)


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SEPTEMBER 01, 2021

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