Category: special education

Day One Hundred Seventy-Four

I made it until the very end of APUSGOV before it made me cry. Students presented projects about various act of political participation they took part in this past year (voting, working on campaigns, going to campaign events, attending town meetings, petitioning local boards, observing a session of the state senate, etc…), and reflected on the importance of participation. A lot of them stressed how much it mattered that they were young- because, often, it made them stand out- and how powerful their voices were, as a result. Afterwards, as is my tradition, I gave them each a letter I’d written full of parting words and advice. I told them that I was so proud of all them, and thanked them for an amazing year, and I WAS FINE… but then they clapped for me.

So, yeah, there were tears. That class is so special, and it’s an extraordinary privilege to get to teach it, and… Wow. I am so lucky that this is what I do, you guys.

My freshmen saw me wiping my eyes when they came in for Block 2, and they were like, “Dawww!” Teaching them is pretty awesome, as well, for different reasons. Today I started doing writing conferences, so I got to read entire Multi-Genre Projects and express all my delight about the work put into them. Seriously, they’re amazing, and I’m learning about all kinds of things (like treatments for lymphoblastic leukemia, and developments in artificial intelligence, and plans to clean up the Pacific Ocean). I say it all the time, but the greatest thing about this project is that we can use it to end the year on a high note; it’s June, but nearly everyone’s engaged, and it’s fantastic.

(It helps that it hasn’t gotten hot outside yet… like, I wore leggings and a cardigan with my dress today).

During Block 5 I had to do IEP quarterlies, which didn’t take very long. After that, Mrs. T and I met with The Vice Principal to talk about the handful of students who are in danger of failing our classes. She wanted to know what we’re doing to try to help them, and if it’s working. Mostly, the answer is yes, but there are two students that we’ve been completely unable to reach. And even though no one else has either, it’s still frustrating and makes me feel like I’ve failed. I remind myself that we were able to reach so many others, and they’ve grown tremendously since the start of the year, buuut… Yeah. The feeling of failure is hard to shake off.

We keep trying tomorrow…

Day One Hundred Thirty-Nine

It’s the first day of fourth quarter! Aaaaand it looked like this:

I wore a bright blue, floral print dress in protest. Of course, I had leggings and a sweater on, too, but y’know… 

It snowed pretty much all day, and just about every student asked me if I thought we’d get out early (no), or if sports would be canceled (yes). But there was still learning in between. My Block 2 students had a ton of fun researching Indian culture and sharing what they found out, and they’re not always eager to share (changing that has been the work of the whole year), so that lesson is definitely a keeper. My Block 4 students might not have had fun- they didn’t say one way or the other- but they focused on the work, got it done, and got to learn some new information from one another. It gave some of my more challenging students a chance to contribute positively, which was good. 

I’m doing all right with that class right now. I quash disruptive behavior early and harshly, keep the time we spend each task really short, abridge any lecturing I have to do, and generally that works. It’s not great- it’s seriously cramping my style- but it allows me to meet the needs of the different learners in the room and reduce the stress, and that’s what I need to do. So… the work goes on.

I worked through lunch because I had a special ed. meeting during my prep time, and at that point I still thought I had practice afterwards. Of course, when I got out of the meeting, I found out that I didn’t. So I did some grading, got ready for tomorrow, and was still out the door by 3:30. By then the snow had turned to rain, and the parking lot had turned to a giant, slushy puddle, so I did serious ninja moves to get to my car. 

We’ll see if the weather goes back to normal tomorrow!

Day Fourteen

So I had a meeting with Mrs. T, Ms. N, and The SpEd Director during last block today. It devolved into a philosophical conversation about having classes labeled as being “college prep,” but having students whose work is modified so significantly that it isn’t college prepatory work anymore. Somehow, The SpEd Director got the idea that I didn’t want to make those modifications, which… Noooooo. No, no, no, no. Definitely not my thinking on that. I want kids to learn, so I want to meet them where they are. That’s my job.

I just don’t know what to do about that “college prep” label sometimes. 

Mrs. T cleared up that misunderstanding, and then everything was all good. But, I have to say, it stung that The SpEd Director misunderstood- that she thought it was at all possible I’d ever think that way. It stung a lot, really. I’m not having a great week outside of work, so I’m probably a little overwrought, but yeah… I went back to my desk, modified my next unit, and sent my work to Ms. N and Mrs. T for feedback. 

Because I’m good at this, damnit, and I want to do it. 

Anyways. 

The rest of the day was great. My APUSGOV class crushed a vocab quiz and then tackled the Constitution. I split the class into three groups. One had to find evidence that it’s a visionary document, one find evidence that it’s an elitist document, and one had to find evidence that it’s a pragmatic document full of compromises (spoilers: it’s all three). The ensuing discussion was good fun. 

Then there was a lockdown drill…

image

That wasn’t fun, but it had to be done.

Afterwards, my World students crushed a vocab quiz, too, which was delightful since it’s their first one. Then we had an epic discussion about radicalization and extremism (carrying over from last class), the teaching of prejudice, biases and stereotypes, and how our sources of information shape our perceptions. It was good in my Block 2 class. It was AMAZING in my Block 4 class; so many students had so much to say. 

Oh, and it was picture day, and I looked good. That’s a win.

I ended the day at the stadium this evening, watching the football team pick up a huuuuge victory. It was a blast.

Day Eighty-One

One of my former students, who’s now in tenth grade, asked me to proofread a short story he’s writing for his English class. This is how he repaid me:

The stickies say “Go Red Devils.” So I responded by writing “Manchester is BLUE” in huge block letters across the top of his story.

It’s a soccer thing.

Anyways.

The special ed. department set aside today for teachers to meet with case managers and discuss students’ progress toward their IEP goals. They offered us food and coffee, too, which was so nice. Mr. F, Mr. W, and I went down first thing since we all had Block 1 prep, and all had to see the same case manager, Ms. N, so it became a nice little breakfast meeting.

Mrs. T was out again, so she couldn’t join us, and I was left alone again in our Cavern of Learning. Actually, I wasn’t totally alone; her sub was one of our former students, now a senior in college, to whom my initial reaction was, “Ugh, I’m old.” 

But it was cool having him help out. He wants to teach, so subbing is good experience, and this bunch of students is fun to work with. I was super happy with their work, too. Even my most chatty, distracting little group buckled down when I separated them, and acknowledged that was what needed doing.

The team and I had a working lunch because we had a parent request a meeting during our typical team meeting time Block 5. I thought that the parent meeting would take an hour or so, but it actually took nearly two. Shows how well I estimate… But it was a meeting with many layers, so it was hard to guess how it would go. I think it was productive, though. 

I was late to practice because of it, of course. When I arrived, I discovered one of my relay boys from last year had come back to visit, and Head Coach had asked him to do baton practice with this year’s relay teams. Since he’d already started, I just sat and let him finish. It was fun. 

Then the kids asked us for relay stories, which was totally to delay running stairs, but we obliged them (I told the story of my final collegiate race). And then they ran stairs. And then I went back to my classroom to write quizzes for APUSGOV. I only got home about an hour ago.

So it was a busy day, and I’m tired now, but it’s all good.