Looking Ahead

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about the future. We're moving to the other side of the state this summer, which means job hunting and house dreaming/hunting. Of course, it will be apartment living once more if I can't find another teaching job. This is a definite possibility in a city that is so over-flooded with teachers that even the substitutes and the paraprofessionals/aides all have their teaching certificates.

I spend my planning time compulsively checking remax.com and craigslist for places to live, and school district websites for places to work. The problem is, to get most jobs you have to know someone. I do know someone, but I don't know if there will be any positions there in the fall.

It's a bleak picture, but I'm trying not to give up faith!

Also? Four more weeks until Spring Break!!!!

And the Crowd Goes "Awwwww...."

You may remember "Leslie". Well, she proved her utter cuteness again with this darling letter she wrote to me:

I'm pretty sure that "cet" is "cute". Also? She signed it "Sincerely". Also? She signed it from me! Haha!! Have I mentioned lately how much I love being a teacher??

My New Boyfriend

I'd always heard about little kids having crushes on their teachers, but I've never been on the receiving end of it until recently. Recently, I added a first grader onto my caseload. He is extremely anxious, has zero self-confidence, and exhibits a lot of internalizing behaviors like hiding his head into his shirt. He's a bit hard to understand because he also has speech and language issues.
Anyway, I was concerned about transitioning him from the aide he was working with in the hall, to me and my office (anxiety about strangers was the issue). So last week, I made it a point to stop by every single day for five or ten minutes when he was working with his aide in the hall. Every single time, he was very shy and hesitant around me. But apparently on Friday he was telling his classroom teacher how excited he was to start with me on Monday (yesterday).
Also on Friday? He drew me a picture of a cat and a dog. He labeled them "cat" and "dog" (good thing too, because they look remarkably similar). At the end of the day, he gave me his favorite soccer pencil. I thought: "This is a good sign. Monday will be easy". And it was! He came out of his shell; he was chatty; he smiled a lot; he was highly cooperative. At the end of the day, he gave me a pink heart with a lot of letters on it. I could make out "like" and then my name. There were some other "words" there, and when I peeked at the sheet of paper his teacher had written on for him to copy, I realized he had written "I like you. I like your games."
Max better watch out... there's a new man in town, now!!

Crisis Averted... I Think

Well, the final decision about my Facebook Debacle of 2009: I've decided to accept her as a friend, but I chose to limit what she can and cannot see on my profile (I blocked my wall and my status updates from her).

IN THE FUTURE, all of you teachers out there who are afraid the same thing may happen to you: go to the "privacy setting" of your Facebook account. There will be section entitled "Block". Type in the name of your principal (or other people you don't want stalking you). That way, they can't search for you or find your Facebook profile in the first place. I wish I had known about this last week!!

Oh well.

A Regrettable Conundrum

My principal has "friended" me on Facebook. There is no link back to this blog from my facebook profile, but still.... what should I do???

A Crying Shame!

Issued by The National Weather Service
3:53 pm EST, Thu., Feb. 19, 2009


This is what we in the business refer to as "wasted snow". As of January 5th, 2009, it is the number one cause of all pouting, ranting, hysterics, and general tantrum-throwing in our household...

I Like This Hidden Curriculum

Last Friday, I threw a party for a student. She's a sixth grader with Down Syndrome, and she was being rewarded because she did various things (mainly, following directions) to earn her enough marbles to fill her marble jar. She's been working toward this since about November, so it was a BIG deal.

Since it was such a big deal, I made sure I ordered in her favorite pizza, provided drinks and colorful decorations, and borrowed the plastic bowling pins and bowling ball from the P.E department. She was thrilled to invite her many teachers, as well as two friends from her regular ed. sixth grade class. I was eager to have a front row seat to see her interact with her regular ed. peers....

I know that her sixth grade teacher had been saying wonderful things about how accepting and friendly the 25 other students are towards her. I also know that the teacher herself has been a HUGE part of setting up that accepting and friendly classroom atmosphere. She handles situations beautifully in front of the other students when my student does odd things like lick her desk, or give that one boy in her class graphic love notes, or have a bathroom accident in class. This teacher has been WONDERFUL, and I'm so thankful for that.

Back to the two friends at the party (one boy, one girl). I was so incredibly impressed with how they interacted with her. They never condescended or talked down to her. They knew all the right questions to ask her in order to carry on somewhat of a conversation (she's not an eager talker). They smiled and ate and took turns bowling down the hallway with her.

It made my special ed. heart just melt! To think! Irregardless of your view on inclusion and mainstreaming, aside from what good it may or may not be doing for my special ed. kiddo, just think of all the life lessons her regular classmates are learning. Whether they know it or not, because of their sixth grade year with my student, they are going to be better prepared to handle someone who is different. They will know how to interact with people who look different or who act strangely. They are learning patience, acceptance, and kindness.

There are a lot of adults I know who could have used a sixth grade year like that!

Lists Are Your Friends

Are you a list person? I am definitely a list person. I like to have everything I need to do in one handy place so I don't have panic attacks thinking about it all (Have I forgotten anything? Where do I start?) My dad is the ultimate list person. On the phone today, my mom mentioned that he has been trying to get her to keep lists as well, but that making a list and looking at it is depressing!

So here is a list (ha!) of some handy tips for keeping your very own to-do list:
  • Start with fun paper because it's more motivating that way. Short on cash? Print your own whimsical list paper here! (The tortoise and the hare are my favorite!)
  • Add fun things to your list so that every item doesn't feel like a chore. For example, "eat some chocolate" or "waste ten minutes surfing the web" provides a nice break from all the humdrum.
  • Make yourself feel better by adding in three or four items that you've already done! Nothing will motivate you to accomplish stuff like seeing the stuff you've already accomplished. Plus, it just feels good to check things off a list, even it's just "wake up".
  • To avoid using your list as a dust collector, give yourself a deadline for checking three things off (any three except your fake ones like "eat chocolate"!). When you've met your deadline, REWARD YOURSELF! (More chocolate anyone?)
  • Don't keep any more than two lists at any one time. If you have so many lists that you have to keep a list of your lists, than you've gone too far (yes, I'm talking about YOU, Rebekah!)
I hope I've inspired my five readers out there to keep lists. You'll be amazed at how it makes you feel. No more walking circles around your office feeling so overwhelmed you don't know where to start!

TGI (Almost) F

I'm so glad this week is wrapping up! My back has been bad, I've been congested, I've been near exhaustion during every waking moment, and I've had to stay at school late several days.

Also? I'm considering changing my job title from "special education teacher" to "professional meeting attender". Does anyone else think that EIGHT meetings in the span of TWO days is much too much? Don't I have to teach some kids at some point? On the other hand, I'm getting really good at sitting in my chair and nodding my head a lot...

I Want One Just Like Her

I have the cutest little girl ever on my caseload. She's in second grade, and I'll call her "Leslie". Leslie is so darling that there are days when I consider taking her home! Except for, you know, Max might object to suddenly having a seven-year-old around the house, and her mom and sisters might notice she's missing...

She surprised me the other day with her complete and utter innocence. We were playing a new game on the computer (Earobics); kind of a phonics thing. The pirate on the screen said: "Hey kids!". In the short pause that followed, Leslie answered "Hi!". I looked over at her and she was completely engrossed. I didn't think kids actually answered back when fictional characters talked to them (and now I realize that by saying that, I've betrayed the fact that I don't have any children of my own, or else I would have known better!). A little later, the pirate said: "Do YOU know all your letter sounds?". Leslie nodded enthusiastically and answered "Uh-huh!!". And so the fictional conversation continued.

By the end of it, I was so enamored with her charming display of innocence, it was all I could do to let her go back to her regular classroom!!


I'm not an athletic person. Sure, I took my share of basketball and tennis lessons, but I always found a reason to quit. I don't find strenuous activity pleasant whatsoever; my exercise routine consists of walking on the treadmill. Never jogging. Never running.

So I can't easily relate to people like my husband who have sported many injuries in many different places. But today? Today I finally felt like I knew what he goes through when he pulls something in his back. Unfortunately, I can't say that I hurt my back doing anything sportsy; it's a bit of a mystery: I just woke up this morning in a LOT of lower back pain!

I didn't realize how much I needed my back until I tried to do really hard things like: get in and out of a car, reach for a pen, sneeze, get up out of my chair, bend over...

I'm off to go get some ice...

Look at it This Way

There's this thing called "reframing". It basically means you reframe a (potentially negative) situation by looking at it in a different way... a more open-minded, positive, hopeful way. The idea is a bit more complicated and involved, but I've simplified it for the non-psychology people out there...

An example might be:

situation: We came back after a six week vacation to find all of our stuff and our apartment covered with mold.
reframed: Free shopping trip!!

I've found that I've been needing to reframe more and more these days at work... like this:

situation: I'm being micromanaged.
reframed: My superiors want to be involved!

situation: Stuff keeps coming up to prevent me from servicing my students. My instructional time has shrunk to almost non-existent with some students...
reframed: More opportunities for me to help the classroom teacher to differentiate!

situation: No potential snow days in the ten day forecast.
reframed: It's going to be SO warm!

situation: In-service day tomorrow and nobody thought to include any content relevant to the special ed. staff (again!)
reframed: An opportunity to slip under the radar and get paperwork done!


70 x 7

We've been having some drama in the special education department recently among our staff. Things were said. Feelings were hurt. The situation was quickly careening out of control. In an effort to smooth everything over, our Dean of Intervention called for a meeting with all parties involved (including me) at 7:00 this morning. She talked about what "teamwork" meant and got input from each of us about what we needed to be a better team for a certain student that we all service.

She told us at the meeting that we need to leave the past in the past and to start to move forward. I applaud her efforts to reconcile the people involved. But it was like I was telling Max yesterday: "No one will be able to move forward unless they can truly forgive each other. And you can't make people forgive each other".

Then two separate incidents with the administration happened later on today which made me angry. It seems I've been angry often this month at the injustices of the education system. So angry, it keeps me up at night! One incident involved another proof that the administration wants nothing to do with our special education kiddos and would rather sweep them out the door off to another school. The other incident involved something professionally disrespectful said to my face.

The disrespect happened ten minutes before the end of the day. I scowled all the way to my room and thought about how doggone angry I was and how sick I was of just everything. I got into my car and thought about how I was so angry, I couldn't even move on....

Wait, move on?? Wasn't I just talking about moving on and forgiveness? And all of a sudden my own words were haunting me and I realized that the hard thing to do was the right thing to do: to forgive the administration. [Thankfully, the Lord makes the impossible possible!!]

There is a lot that is wrong with the educational system. It is B-R-O-K-E-N. There are thousands of injustices that happen to teachers and to students every day. And sometimes, it's hard to see past our long lists of grievances. So much of a teacher's job ends up being trying to shield our students from all that crap. And when it feels personal, the best (and hardest!) thing to do is to try and forgive and move on.

And to keep on forgiving and moving on...
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