Thursday, August 31, 2006

The things they do and say...

This elementary school experience is something else. I crack up hearing what the little ones say as they get off the bus. I crack myself up when I put on my mean face and stern voice while on lunch duty for kindergarten lunch. I'm laughing inside at the student's reactions. I think I overheard a girl call me a 'meanie teacher' today. I would have reprimanded her but my hearing isn't great and there is a chance that's not what she said. Wouldn't surprise me though as she's a handful.
We had a fist fight on the playground yesterday during kindergarten recess. A girl beat up on a boy. A cute, curly headed little girl. I don't think that happened while I was in school! Thankfully, it wasn't my duty!
It cracks me up how often the kindergartners will come up to you to tell you they fell, they scratched their arm, they have wood chips in their shoes. My standard reply is, "Is there blood? No, then go play."

As for my students--they are still a ball. I saw some glimpses of progress with one student today. It's such a good feeling to see one 'getting it.' We're still getting them used to their schedules, routines, and such. There's also some 'crud' going around, though so far it's not the students. One TA and the SLP have both had some sort of virus, as have their children. Another TA has a brown recluse bite and we wonder if it happened in our classroom! Today, our students had a lot of sniffles and sneezes (and tears). Thank goodness we have a 3 day weekend!

OK, enough senseless rambling for now....just want to add that I LOVE my new job! :)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

One week down!

I survived my first week with little 3-5 year olds! It wasn't without drama, however.

My classes (a.m. and p.m.) consist of 7 boys total. They are some of the cutest kids you could ever gather together under one roof (and no, I'm not biased). They each have their own little "quirk" that makes them just down right cute.

One is quite the chubby thing. He has an infectious smile that just melts your heart. However, you must be careful because he knows how to use it to his advantage! Another keeps us in stitches with his karate kid poses. Now, this isn't what he intends to do...we haven't quite figured out what he's doing. But it did bring back memories of the karate kid. He'll just break into this pose and be real still, balancing on one leg, sometimes with a finger pointing up. You'd have to see it to get the full effect. Then there is my only 5 year old. He is interesting. He talks some, but mostly focuses on Freddy Krueger, Jason (from Friday the 13th), and various other boogeymen. Don't get me started on the lack of appropriateness for a child this age to even know about these characters...I also have a boy who doesn't like school much. His favorite word (or words) is "Nononononononono." I have my work cut out with him. He isn't yet fond of me--he's one of those that is going to take some time to get through too. He's a complex kid. I have one little boy whose smile just melts your heart. He has trouble talking because of a lack of motor and muscle control in his mouth but his smile speaks 100s of words. He is the most compliant and easy going little boy, happy all the time. There is a cute little tow headed boy who just smiles and talks in a quiet voice and is very eager to please. He pretty much goes with the flow. Finally, I have a very small boy, it's a miracle that he's even here really. He has a lot of issues to overcome. I'm still trying to figure out what exactly motivates him. I'm getting a ball pit this week, and am having a noisy box made for him soon. I hope both of these provide me some direction for which way to go with him. His needs are more significant than most of my other students.
My TAs and I have almost constantly been in stitches over the antics of our students. They keep us on our feet, but it makes for a fun and eventful day!

Happy 16th birthday today to my oldest nephew!

Monday, August 14, 2006

A Big Pet Peeve

In the age of electronic everything, why can't people spell??? I am a special education teacher, and as such, I fill out a tremendous amount of legal paperwork. This paperwork becomes a part of the student's history and follows them throughout their school career. It also is sent to the parents. Anyhow, it just pains me to see spelling errors throughout this paperwork. I know typos do happen (and since we are always in a hurry, even more so). Spell check doesn't catch everything. Still, I've seen the same word spelled multiple ways within the same document. Last night as I was reviewing files, there was one page that had the student's name spelled about 4 different ways! I just cringe when I see this, as I can only imagine how the parent must feel. If it makes me feel the way it does, I'm sure parents are thinking, "And I send my child to this teacher to be educated??"
I'm sure that if I had the same amount of misspelled words on a presentation or report to be handed off when I was working in corporate America, my hide would have been out to hang! I don't think that would have been tolerated.
So people--use spell check! It's not that hard.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

They're Baaaccckkkkk!

After 3+ months of living as 'country dogs', my dogs came to their new home today. I went to my parents' house and gave them both a bath. They were soooooo dirty--most of Harley's fur was the color of an Oklahoma farm pond--deep dirt red. I had the back of my car open, and each of them hopped in upon finishing their bath. They were ready to go! After some sniffing around, the dogs have pretty much just vegged. They keep trading places between the new pillow and the cool tile.
Meanwhile, Kita (the Malamute puppy of my nephew's) has been looking for them ever since we left. Poor girl, she lost her playmates. She played with Peanut and did everything else with Harley (sleep, poop-seriously, and eat).

Check out Sweetnicks' site for this weekend's edition of Weekend Dog Blog--lots of cute pups over there!

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Friday, August 11, 2006

I had a point...

There was a point to my long winded post below. I can't remember exactly what it was.
Maybe it was that even though I am scared to death of the first day of school (what in the heck am I going to do with a group of kids that age???), I need to remind myself that it will all work out. It's OK to be a bit nervous, anxious, or whatever. It'll all come together. It has too.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

It does the heart good...

The last school year, I was told about a student I might be getting (maybe even mentioned it here). I observed him, talked to his mom, had a meeting to bring him to my campus, and quickly became terrified. OK, I was scared sh!tless. I mean, to hear it, this was going to be the most difficult student you can imagine-unlike anything my education or experience prepared me for. Negative behaviors galore: hitting 200+ times a day, likes to run (so dig out the tennis shoes and keep the doors shut), wears clothes that are difficult to strip out of or else he will, my hair was always in a ponytail because it can be pulled. I wanted this student, but in the back of my mind I was asking myself all kinds of questions. "What if I fail?", "What if his behaviors get worse?", "What in the HELL do I do with a student like this?"

I had doubts, but I also knew I was going to try. I had to. So began the most rewarding journey yet of my teaching career. I remember the first day we had him. He was terrified to get off the bus. He's non-verbal but can understand plenty. He looked out the window and saw yet another school and just didn't quite know what to think. Once in the classroom, he went about his mischievous ways. I actually didn't get him until lunchtime and then the last half of the day. I remember trying to do the bathroom routine myself. I'm optimistic that way. Twenty minutes and 2 pull-ups later (he tore one), I managed to get a male teacher next door to help me finish getting him dressed (I banged on the door from the bathroom floor, where I had been trying to reason with this child amongst much thrashing, hitting, etc). Those first few days, I was exhausted like I've never been before.

We finally got a new TA hired about 6 weeks after his arrival. We were still working with behaviors, but had somewhat settled into a routine.
The weeks after Christmas break are a blur. I had sort of decided to move during that time, though I knew I hated to leave him and his wonderful family. By the end of the year, we were seeing a lot less negative behaviors. He had made tremendous progress. I also worked with him over the summer, mostly focusing on eating and getting him to try new foods (he primarily eats baby food because of texture/chewing reasons). Through this all, I was gradually handing over the reins to that TA we hired--who became a friend through all of this. She was then hired to replace me. OK, I did hold on the reins pretty tight until the end, I admit. I didn't want to let go and miss the rest of the ride. My last full day in DFW, right after camp, a friend and I took my student to the dollar movies (it was my replacement's idea and we had already tried once before). It was a success! Another first for him that I greedily got to be a part of before leaving.
Other firsts I got to be a part of over the school year: first time to lick a sucker, brush his teeth, walk into school without sitting on the floor, go all day without sitting on the floor, go all day without hitting, first time to pee in a potty (I missed the first time, but heard about it. I did see the first time he did this at his home), first time to try a myriad of new foods. This summer I saw him reach out and give a 3 year old a high five while sitting outside the movie theater. Appropriate social interaction! It was awesome.

So, yesterday was the first day of school where I used to teach. I got an email yesterday from my replacement saying he did great coming off the bus and going down the hall. I talked to her last night. He had a wonderful day. It just seems like he's reached a point where he is going to 'grow up' so much and show his teachers so much progress. It brought tears to my eyes. It's moments like this that make my job worthwhile. I guess you'd just have to know him to understand, isn't that right CW? :)

I did have another point to make (to myself really) but this is long so I'll save it for later.

Monday, August 07, 2006

How things have changed

Well, after 4 1/2 days of mostly sleep, two trips to the doctor, and 2 new prescriptions (4 total), I am feeling almost back to normal, whatever normal is anyway. That's good, because tomorrow I report for new teacher induction.

Anyhow....every year at Camp Esperanza, we have to undergo a certain amount of training. We do a day a month before camp starts. Then, we all get there around 2 on a Saturday afternoon and have more training. Kids do not arrive until 3ish on Sunday. THat extra time is spent preparing, planning, and going through training sessions. The last couple of years, there has been more emphasis on child abuse. This year we watched a video and had a long talk about things that have happened, can happened, and how we as counselors need to procede. This year, it was gently suggested that there be no more lap sitting. So, I can't tell you how many times this week I had to tell a little 6 or 7 year old girl she could sit beside me, but not in my lap. Or, I would just gently lift her to the spot beside me. I hate that past abusers have made it to where it has to be this way now. These kids, some who are in the throngs of treatment, who are dealing with fighting for their lives, who are away from mom and dad for the first time, are not allowed to be comforted the way I was when I went to Girl Scout Camp as a child. We also have hug raids, but this year we were instructed to do 'side hugs'. Can't have any chest to chest contact, ya know. It just breaks my heart that the world we live in has come to this. That there are sickos out there who will (and have) take advantage of the situation to somehow abuse these kids. I know in the long run that this is the safest for both the campers and adults, but it really does break my heart. I wish I could say with more clarity what is on my mind--I'm always better at composing these things in my head than actually writing them.

Friday, August 04, 2006

I'm home!

Well, I've actually been back to my new home since Monday night. You'd think with all that time, I'd be settled in and ready to throw a dinner party, rightr? Wrong.
I can't find the bolts to put the legs on my table. Those (dad and cousin) who took it apart back in May swear they put it someplace we'd remember. I realized I had curriculum training Wednesday and Friday. I had to go to my hometown Tuesday evening. And the clincher? I've spent most of the last 2 days in bed on antibiotics, decongestant, and painkillers because I have the sinus infection from hell. My head hurts like it's never hurt before. Walking? Ouch. Sitting? Ouch. Even lying in bed hurts; thank goodness for prescription narcotics! I'm just up right now to get some water and finally change out of the clothes I wore to training this morning--I lasted an hour before I couldn't take anymore.
My yard needs to be mowed (any takers?), my house is a disaster area, and my classroom is pure chaos. I guess it'll all have to wait another day or two.
Oh, this has also stalled me from getting my dogs and bringing them home. They will need several baths each and I haven't been up for that. Bending over to scrub them? I'd pass out.
So, this too shall pass...once it does, I'll try and share some camp stories or reflections.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


I spent last week at Camp Esperanza, a camp for children (6-15) with or in remission from cancer.
My favorite camp quote went something like this:
"I used to think that camp was just to sort of build up our egos again, make us feel like we used to. But it's so much more than that. It's more like a lifestyle."

I liked that--the lifestyle bit!

Until there's a cure . . . There's camp!

More to come later.