Sunday, March 30, 2014

OPI vs. IEP

Truth: I am procrastinating.
Fact: I should be writing an IEP.
Flashback to two weekends ago...walking IEP...this scenario is repeating itself.
I'd much rather paint my nails which takes a total of three minutes compared to creating an IEP which is  close to three hours. At least I have something pretty to look at while I click away!
OPI kiss me I'm Brazillian

Verdict: OPI was declared the winner

Friday, March 28, 2014

That empty chair

I typically have one of these chairs in each class. Day in and day out there seems to be an empty chair. That chair should have a student in it and yet it doesn't. For this reason or that a student did not make it to class today. 

I often wonder what will happen to students who perpetually miss class on a regular basis. Perhaps schools not for them and they will seek other options to educate themselves. As educators, we desire for our students to be successful, but if they do not want that success for themselves than why bother. 

This week there has been a particular desk that has been empty. A student that I have been with for the last three years is finding it difficult to finish what they started. Every avenue has been traveled down to assist this student onto the path of success and nothing seems to work. After awhile all we can do is hand that student a map, wish them well and continue on our journey of helping others. Is it difficult to see that empty desk? Yes, but after a while there is not much I can do. How can I fill an empty chair if the student it belongs to does not want to be there?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Walking IEP

A couple weekends ago I was procrastinating writing an IEP for Monday morning because who has time to write an IEP during the school week?  
That darn IEP hung over the entire weekend like a little grey rain cloud. 
Monday morning comes along and did I complete an ounce of that IEP

N.O.P.E

So this is me Monday morning drying my hair with one hand and clicking/typing away on that IEP. Preparing my coffee and breakfast while creating the accommodations lists. Making myself presentable and rewording teacher's input into a paragraph format. Wherever I went the laptop followed me as I desperately tried to complete the IEP. Thankfully, I was finished with the IEP before the meeting. Did the parents show? No!

A high five would suffice

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Hello Sunshine

TWO FACTS

Fact 1:
My classroom contains ZERO windows. Even the window on the door only lets in artificial light from the hallway.

Fact 2 :
I never turn on my over head lights. They give me a headache and create a non relaxed environment. I prefer to light my classroom with lamps...a total of nine lamps to be exact.

This brings us to today's middle school statement brought to you be a 6th grader:
Student: Miss can you turn on the sunshine? 
Me: What!?!?


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Caroline's Cart

There are numerous every day life events that I personally take for granted. For example, going to the grocery store with my family and not having to worry about how we will maneuver in and out of the aisles. I have a hard enough time not hitting people with a shopping cart let alone trying to operate a wheel chair for a loved one as well. One family made it their mission to ease this everyday life event for families with special needs children. 

Drew Ann and David were experiencing frustration when they ventured out shopping with their daughter Caroline who has special needs. Through the help and support of Easter Seals a special cart was created. Caroline's Cart is a shopping cart designed for children with special needs. With the use of this cart parents are given more freedom in how they transport their child through stores. Their goal is to enable special needs children to move more freely with their family through every-day life. They hope to one day make Caroline's Cart available at retailers across the country. 



Monday, March 17, 2014

Reacting to labels

 I don't know about you, but I check expiration dates on food more than I like to admit. Once a particular food item has reached its due date I automatically wave good bye. I don't know why I can't get past that stupid date. I know I'm not going to die if I eat yogurt that expired yesterday, but somehow I can't get past the label. 

The same can be said about disabilities. We see these labels on people and assume that such and such person is going to be too much to handle just based on a label that is tied to their name. I'm 100% guilty of this and I teach special education. 

During my first year of teaching I was given a student who had a label of autism. Before I even laid eyes on this kid I already felt like I knew him just based on his label. A part of me was excited, my first student with autism and then the other part of me was feeling oh dear autism. When he walked in my room I automatically noticed his size; he towered over my 5'1" frame. I braced myself for what he was going to pull out of his autism bag of tricks. Class was coming to a close and I decided to lay down the law. I walked over and sternly explained the way I ran my class and how I had zero tolerance for any funny business. He politely sat at his desk and nodded along.

Weeks passed and nothing happened. No major explosions, meltdowns or nightmares occurred. All the stories and scenarios I read about autism was not playing itself out in my classroom. To be completely honest I was a little disappointed. I mean how could I earn my "autism badge of courage" if I didn't deal with a major autism related catastrophe? I slowly began to realize that I had over reacted to this student's label. 

When I came to this realization I was horrified. How could I judge someone based on their label? I hated when I was treated differently based on my label and now I was partaking in the same type of judgement. I understand why students must carry around their label so we can provide them with the best education possible, but is there a way that we can bypass the overreacting to their label?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Cute aspect

When you think of a teacher what comes to mind
I really hope someone thought of Jessica Day from New Girl...although I do not think she is still a teacher on the show. 

I'm not a big fan of the cuteness of education. You know...the warm fuzzies, an array of color and glitter. Which may sound funny to those who have been in my classroom because it has color and some glitter. 
There is nothing I love more than a sarcastic teacher with an edge. I have no idea how to relate to bubbly teachers that have butterflies and rainbows sprouting from their very existence...they creep me out. So here is my own rendition of Jessica Day's quotable:

Oh hey, I have something to say and I'm pretty sure you may interpret it as less than positive. I smile when I am telling the truth, which is a semi-problem. I do not like rocking school related t-shirts to school or anywhere else. I have touched a handful of colorful pens within the last nine hours. I spend my entire day talking to teenagers, which most people try to avoid.  And I find it fundamentally strange that a teacher's worth is based on a test score. That's just cruel. And I'm sorry I don't talk like I am Mrs. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus. And I hate when people put on a front. I wish we could say what we wanted and wouldn't be called negative. And that doesn't mean I'm not a positive person it just means that I am who I am.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A little pick me up

This letter came in the mail last Thursday totally out of the blue. Friday's blog post will explain to you that I am not a fan of the warm and fuzzy feelings. With that being said I did get teary eyed reading this letter, but thanks to my clogged tear duct no tears were shed. 

Sometimes as educators we may never know how much we influence students. This particular student is a sophomore in high school now. She was full of spunk and attitude when she was in my classroom. At the time this student was at my school ESE teachers were trying to push students out into the general education classroom instead of being stuck in intensive academic classes. This push towards placing students into the general education classroom has stopped thanks to our course codes being switched to the same as gen. ed. In a way having the same course codes is great, but now there really is no reason to place ESE students into gen. ed. classes since we now have identical course codes.

 I think its safe to say that inclusion has died because of these course codes. ESE students are not being mixed in with gen. ed. students they are stuck with one another in the same classes year after year. When ESE students are together they tend to feed off of one another's deficits.  I miss the days of motivating students to work hard so they can have the opportunity to get out of intensive academic classes. It breaks my heart knowing that there are students that would thrive by being placed out of I.A classes, but are not given the chance. The sad thing is that we try to place them out of our classes, but they eventually find their way back into our classrooms or their schedules are never changed. This lack of inclusion in the classroom setting is only short changing students with disabilities to reach their true potential. 

I wish schools would put inclusion as its top priority in education. I think if inclusion was more of a priority other problems would disappear. Schools need to be provided with resources, funding and support in order for inclusion to even have a chance. 


Monday, March 10, 2014

The non-passing ones

I hate failing students, but at the same time I don't understand how you fail a class. I mean it's not that hard to pass....listen, follow directions, work hard and complete assignment...it's not rocket science. What boggles my mind even more is that there are students that have straight 100%s and then those that have 34%s. 
Quarter three is coming to a close which prompts me to create a whose failing list for each grade level. Each quarter I create this list and have noticed there are repeat offenders. I typically post this list two weeks prior to the quarter ending so they can get their act together and pass. There is nothing I hate more when a student asks for extra work when they are failing because we all know that if you did the work that was assigned this conversation would not be happening. 

 The sad thing is that a majority of the students on this list seem not to care...they're not panicking! They either don't care or they're so used to this happening that failing does not phase them. At this point in the game if you have failed multiple quarters the chances of you having to repeat a class is rather high. Even this piece of information does not seem to light the fire underneath them. Not only are the students not freaking out, but the parents are not even calling to see why they are not passing. I am the one calling the parents and informing them on their student's non-passing grade. Now tell me ...is there anything wrong with this scenario?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The A word

Accommodations
That's the A word I'm referring to
Providing reasonable and necessary accommodations to students with disabilities is a vital teacher responsibility. Sometimes this responsibility can become burdensome when there are fifteen students in one classroom all acquiring an accommodation of some sort. At one point or another we might scratch our head and wonder why must we accommodate when in the real world the likelihood of them receiving the same accommodations as in the classroom is slim. 

I believe one of the many reasons accommodations are offered and provided for students in a school setting is to help them become their own advocate. Without providing these accommodations to students with disabilities they may never develop a system to successfully maneuver hurdles that their disabilities will present themselves in the real world. We must teach them 'tricks' on how to deal with their disability. If students with disabilities are shown ways to manage challenges they face with their disability then they will start accommodating themselves. In order for them to learn how to accommodate themselves we must first show them by providing accommodations in the classroom. Eventually, they will naturally start accommodating for themselves and will learn how to compensate for their disability. 

Will every student become their own advocate and accommodate for themselves, no. But I'd rather show students how to accommodate for their disability than complain that I have to provide accommodations for my students in the classroom. They have to be shown that their ability out shines their disability. If I was not given accommodations when I was in school I am 87% sure that my disability would drown me. Thankfully, I had teachers that provided me with accommodations that lightened the load. Without my teachers showing me ways to cope with my disability I might not have made it to where I am today. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Dear paperwork,

           
               I think it's fair to say that I have a love-hate relationship with you. I honestly do not mind spending excessive amounts of time with you. I actually enjoy the process of making sure everything is filed in the correct order. Unfortunately, there is this thing called teaching that is getting in the way of our relationship. Let's face it teaching requires a majority of my attention because she is 100% selfish and only thinks of herself. Which therefore puts you on the back burner. I hope you are not offended by this. Perhaps one day teaching will relinquish it's hold on me and then we will be able to spend even more time together.

                                        Sincerely,
                                                Your long lost friend


P.S. if you could work on not giving me paper cuts that would be great!


FACT
I really do not mind paperwork. What I do mind is not having time to complete this paperwork. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

The one with the kool-aid



Class had just begun and for some reason or another two students were by my desk and one got a little too close to the other when this piece of goodness popped out of their mouth:
"You are all up in my kool-aide and you don't even know the flavor."
It took me a minute for this statement to register, but when it did I about died from laughter.

I was later told I could not get away with saying this because I am white...
Non the less I have said this phrase in various conversations

Friday, February 28, 2014

K.I.T: Kids Included Together

Inclusion is something near and dear to my heart. Coming from both a personal and professional background I know how vital inclusion can be in schools and communities. I have seen how inclusion can open doors for individuals and how the lack of inclusion only limits an individuals true potential. The sole purpose of inclusion is to expand opportunities which allows everyone to be an equal participant in life. 

Kids Included Together (KIT) began in 1997. This organization focuses on providing best practices training for communities to include children with and without disabilities into their recreational, child development and youth programs. 

K.I.T believes that disabilities are a natural part of life. They view disabilities as a way to foster diversity opposed to a deficiency. I truly believe that if more people adopted K.I.Ts outlook on disabilities our education system and communities would be completely different. 


For more information about K.I.T you can visit their

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

It might seem crazy what I'm about to say...

But I'm pretty happy that the FL is no longer going to stay. If I look giddy for the next couple of days it's because I am elated...no strike that I am ecstatic! 

There are numerous reasons that make me happy...
No more pressure.
No more cheesy writing.
No more essays to grade.
No more ridiculous prompts.
No more tracking down students asking where their essay is.
No more wanting to cry because they don't capitalize the beginning of their sentence.

I'm sure that down the road the happiness will fade...let's face it I teach ESE the land where happiness goes to die.* The chances of bad news coming down the road talking this and that is a possibility. If I hear that so-and-so's essays score was less than pleasing. There is not much I can do about it. The fact of the matter is that my students and myself have been working our tail off since August. So if anyone has something to say that is less than motivating, they should be warned that we will be just fine...it's best that they don't waste our time. Because in the end we are happy that we worked hard and did the best we possibly could. I hope people do not take any offense to this. No one can bring us down because today we will be happier than a room without a roof. We know the true definition of happiness lies beyond a test score.


I dare you to watch this video and not be happy!


Reality Check
I teach Language Arts so there will always be essays to grade.
:)

* for those that cannot pick up on sarcasm 
I'm not being negative...I'm being sarcastic
There is a difference

Monday, February 24, 2014

The time has come

The FL writes is tomorrow! Hurray!
I honestly have had fewer panic attacks over this years writing than in years past.  I feel confident that I have done everything within my means to prepare them for this assessment. I know that regardless of what the scores are that my students have the ability to write an essay. My students as well as myself are more than a test score. I will keep my hopes high that they will be able to successful demonstrate how amazing they truly are tomorrow when they are writing their essay.