Posted tagged ‘Special Education’

Bedrest vs Work

December 8, 2010

So, yesterday I was officially put on bedrest that was set to begin today.

However, I went to work today, because I am a workaholic who has trouble handing over control of her classroom to someone else.

This all came as a pretty big shock because everything had been improving and the doctor has been so optimistic at each appointment.  Even things at work have been good, all 8 boys were beautifully behaved for the last week and a half.  I had all these fun Christmas plans with them (because we live in a rural, insanely religious, everyone is the same kinda place we call it Christmas) .

We have an art project a day next week, a tree to put up and decorate, a Christmas play to put on, cookies to bake together, a party to have, and gifts to make for their families.

And now, I have to hand over all the fun to someone else so I can sit on the couch and rest.  I know it sounds dumb to complain about, but no matter how much I complain some days, I love teaching, and being away from it is hard.

Plus, my desk was still a freaking mess and I feel bad for the poor woman who has to take over my desk and try to find anything useful.  I had grand plans for cleaning that up as well…

I guess I can look on the bright side and know that I will now get to watch all the girl movies I can stand, check facebook ten million times a day, read blogs that I rarely get time to enjoy, and maybe help keep my poor husband from going crazy with our kitchen remodel.  That last one is a maybe cause I am not really that useful for anything other than finding overly priced things I want and last minute projects we should add in.




The Mystery Files of Mrs. M.’s Class

November 23, 2010

Today at work was a fabulous day!  The boys were fantastic!  There are 3 major reasons for that:

1. One of my students who has chosen to go off his meds was absent.

2. One of my students whom I love dearly, but is a giant pain in the butt recently was suspended

3. We had a big Thanksgiving feast where you could eat all you wanted and the boys are a huge fan of that and did not want to lose out.

So at the end of the day the boy who was suspended comes in to pick up his stuff.  I bring down his library books, his homework, his point sheet, and he mentions I forgot his backpack and pencil box, so I said okay went to get them. I only ended up remembering the backpack, but he said it was okay he had a bunch of pencils at home.  I thought nothing of it, as he left, I just mentioned that no one knew he was suspended and that on Monday if he did not bring it up I wouldn’t and we could just move on.  He said “okay” and I told him I would see him on Monday.

About 20 minutes later when the bell rings and all the kids are leaving and we are waiting on the two last buses, the principal comes up and say that she got a call from this student’s home school and they wanted to know more about his impending return on Monday.  She was thrown and just said she had no idea. They told her the mom called and said that he has been doing so well that he is returning.  Of course, our principal mentioned that he had been suspended today and said that she did not think this was a good plan.

In mentioning it to me, she thought maybe they messed up and so we would leave it until next week.  But, of course, the secretary comes out and says that there is a parent on the phone and am I available.  So i go and it is this boy’s mom and she says that I didn’t give him all of his things, he needs everything.  I mention that  I just got the essentials for the long weekend and that he can have whatever he needs of his stuff, and she said “no, I mean all of his stuff, he will not be returning to school there on Monday.”

The world stopped spinning for a second.  This is a parent who has been amazing, who has stated multiple times that she thinks her son needed to earn his way back to his homeschool and who has agreed that he was not ready.  None of this made any sense.

So, I said that I was very sorry to hear this and would she like to talk?  We talk multiple times a week and have had a great relationship.  She very curtly said “No” and hung up.

I have been replaying this whole thing in my head over and over and it is crazy because I should just be thanking God for one less headache and fight every day, but I can not shake the sense that something bad is going to happen and I really like this kid and his family and would hate to see anything happen.

Revoking an IEP is as simple as a signature, but it means so much more than that.  If he doesn’t have this he can be suspended as much as the school likes for anything, he can be up for expulsion, he can get himself in a world of trouble.

I just don’t know why this whole situation is bothering me so much, but it is consuming me.


Teaching Is Stressing Me Out

October 25, 2010

I love teaching, I even love working with the kids others deem “unteachable”, but lately I am not feeling it.  It is a difficult job, it’s super stressful and there are no breaks. And let me tell you, I mean no. breaks.  I teach gym, art, music (which I haven’t done yet), social studies, science, math, english, social skills, and I have to eat lunch with them.

I know much of the reason I am taking everything so personally is that I am pregnant and I am moody, but I just feel so overwhelmed on days like today.

Now, to fully explain, let me say I do have a classroom aide to help out with my day.  He is a fully certified teacher, who has taught special education for the last 30 years, was a principal at one point, and he taught at a local university molding the “teachers of tomorrow.”   Sounds like an awesome aide to have right?  Well, how many of you remember education 30 years ago?  I wasn’t there for it, but my studies and time with this man tell me life was very different.

His first instinct is to yell, embarrass children, and remind them they are at his mercy and will do as he says or he will make them pay for it.

None of these children are children who need this behavior from an adult, most of these kids get screamed at on a regular basis and it solves nothing.  It is far more effective to speak in an even tone, be respectful, and deal with the problem straight on.  This seems to off set what the kids are expecting and settles the situation down.

So, today, 3 of my boys were going to gym with my aide Mr. ___ and lined up pretty nicely for 14 and 15 year olds.  As they got out into the hallway Mr. ___ stops the line to tell them they what they will not be doing in gym and that they will “respect” what he tells them to do.  He proceeds to ask them, in the hallway, wasting their precious gym time, what they plan to do in gym class. So one boy says that he wants to get on of the kick balls and kick it at the wall for a while.

Now, we do generally have a rule about kicking balls in gym, which granted sounds strange, but we tried kick ball and soccer and neither went well.  However, today, out loud in front of everyone including Mr. ___ I said, that if the ball never once started as a basketball, was only used to kick at the wall at an appropriate height, and was not once kicked at other people that it would be okay to try out, seeing as how they are currently going to gym in small groups and only each get about 15 minutes.

So, when the boy said this was what he wanted to do, Mr. ___ told him that he was not allowing this and that if he didn’t listen to him he would have no gym time.  Of course, the boy started to argue and say that I told him it was okay began to argue and get loud about the situation.

Now, if I were the adult in the situation, I would instead of standing there being yelled at and pushing a ridiculous situation I would have said, okay, I didn’t hear Mrs. M say that, let’s go check.  Quick easy consequences if they are lying and if not back on the road to gym problems solved the world once again righted for all.

Is that what happened?  Nope!

Instead Mr. ___ stands in the hall and begins to remind the boys that he is in charge, he said no, and he does not care and that because they are being so awful in the hallway no one is having gym. Now, the only reason they are even in the hallway having this conversation is because he stopped everyone to make sure they knew who the boss was, the only reason they are standing there arguing at all is because instead of allowing for the idea that he could possibly be wrong, he has make sure they know and understand how wrong they are.

Thus began World War III at approximately 11:05 this morning.  The rest of the day was a pissing contest.  What gets me is that even after the boys had left for the day Mr. ___ still could not even discuss the idea that he played any part in this situation.

This is the man who is supposed to take over for me when I am out in January.  I am just at a loss for how this would even begin to be a good idea other than a practice in being grateful that I am their Somehow, I need to just find a way to, have this baby the same way the Asians in the rice patties do.  Pop a squat, have the baby, strap it to my back in keep on working.





Parent-Teacher Conferences 2009

November 4, 2009

To be honest with you, in the last few years as a teacher this has been one of the hardest few days each year.  First, it is two days in a row of full teaching for 7 hours and then two evenings right after that of 4 hours of meetings with parents which makes for a really, really, long day.  Today was no exception, but, today I needed this more than I knew.

Some background before I get too far into tonight’s story.  I have been at my current school for going on 3 years and have had pretty much the same students for that entire time.  My first year conferences were stressful, filled with tears of frustration on both sides, and many wrong turns on my part.  Ever since, I have had a phobia of these two nights.

Even after 2 years, I dreaded conferences today as well and every second leading up to them was pure torture.  All I could picture was parents being upset and crying and saying “this is why they never come to these meetings.”  The difference was that this year I was beyond prepared, I have had each of these students for such a long time I am able to really address the good, the bad, and ugly in depth with a lot of proof to back it up.

There was one appointment for me tonight that made my entire career in Special Education worth it.  This young man has made so many gains in the time we have been working together that he has gone from reading on a 1st grade level to reading on a 6th grade level and comprehending what he is reading too.  From struggling socially, to being able to have basic interactions with peers successfully.  From being a disorganized mess, to learning a system to help keep him prepared for class and knowing where his materials are.

Discussions his first year were more about where were his parents and getting them involved in his life and education. I discussed how much improvement we could make if we work together and actually ended up arguing about whose job it is to help this child be successful.

Parent Teacher Conferences suck!

These kinds of things have actually been said.

Two years later, we talked about not only this students success, but his families success. His mom talked about how they are having family night once a week now, they do homework daily together, they discuss school each day, and they talk honestly about issues that teens face and she said “if it hadn’t been for you, my son would still be a mess and without that push you gave us, I wouldn’t know my own children the way I do now.  Thank you!”  And then, she hugged me! Not just any hug, either.  I am talking full on embracing with rocking and crying in joy.

We were both crying by this point and I was just so happy to hear what a difference I have been able to make, and to realize that no matter how frustrated I get some days, that I am doing what I was made to do.  It is not often a teacher gets these moments so early in their career and it was just much needed and so wonderful!

Who Do I Thank For This?

August 26, 2009

My job is generally a stressful one to say the least,  and I have never had a first day go as smoothly as today did.  I am sure that it helps, that of my 12 students, only 6 were kind enough to show up on the first day.  But hell, I am willing to take that victory and run with it.

By this time last year, I was ready to pull my hair out and I should clarify this to say, that today was a 3 hour day.  However, today was simply a breeze.  My students were polite, respectful, calm, and over all pretty quiet.  I kept looking around to make sure I was in the right place.  First, I work in a middle school.  Second, I teach a Cross-Categorical Self-Contained Special Education classroom, that usually resembles a three ring circus, not to say there isn’t learning going on, it is just a bit (or more like a whole lot) more crazy than one basement classroom can normally contain.

My first hint that things were different, I gave out snacks to each student and when I did, all my students said “please and thank you,” they cleaned up after themselves, and they had not one issue all day long.  I loved it!  I can only hope that this lasts through the year and that with each passing day, they will only surprise me even more.

So, today, I am paying homage to whatever gods are out there for the blessing that was my classroom today, and asking for many more days like this one.