Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Vacation

The bennies of being a teacher...CHRISTMAS VACATION! I now have 10 days to unwind, breathe and spend some time with my children. I hope it snows a LOT! I would love to do some cross country skiing, sledding, maybe I would even try down hill again. My eldest son snowboards and he has a season pass this year to a local ski place. He wants to go every day over winter break. I once tried snowboarding. I won't do that again, my tail bone would never forgive me but I skied in high school and that might be something I could do again.

I am hoping that friends from out of town will be in town visiting family and that I will have a chance to see them and catch up with them too. I would also like to pick a room or two in my house and organize it from top to bottom. I need to get rid of some crap that I have accumulated over the years. I have to put a plug in here for the wonderful work that my middle sister and mom have been doing on my mom's house. They have painstakingly stripped paint off of all the woodwork in the kitchen and re-did it all. They sanded and polyurethaned the hard word floors. They put in new appliances, cupboards...basically it looks like a brand new kitchen! After 40+ years of living there, the kitchen needed some updating an organizing. It looks so nice now that when I go over there I tell them that I want to live in the kitchen of my mom's house. I mean, if you were to pick a room, either that or the bathroom would be the place, right?

I hope you will all forgive me if I don't get a X-mas letter out on time or at all. It might not happen. It is on my "to do" list and I bought about 80 stamps but I'll have to see if I can fit it in between starting the X-mas shopping, baking the cookies, cleaning the house for the relatives who will come over on X-mas eve and the martini drinking :)

Thanks to all who read this. I really appreciate it. Love and Blessings to all!!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Let kids play with Play-Doh

It is 2:00 in the afternoon and I am ready to close my eyes and go to sleep. I just have to take a deep breath and try to regain some energy. A second wind... to take home to MY children after the children that I have dealt with all day long.
I learned something new this week...some high school kids have never been allowed to play with Play-Doh. One of my students who has been a continual behavior problem was immediately calmed down when I found out he enjoyed manipulating Play-Doh. He told me that his parents never allow him to play with it because it gets into the carpet and they get angry at him for making a mess. This is truly makes me sad. As an incentive for positive behavior in one of my classes, I gave him his own container of Play-Doh. For the last two days, he has been calm in my classses. I met this boy's father today. He brought him to school because he was late and his brother was being readmitted to school after having been suspended. This man was scary. Dressed all in black, he felt and looked evil.

I feel that this is the hardest part of my job; knowing that I have to send some of these children home to environments where they have to use all their skills to just survive. I try not to dwell on this, it would be too depressing. I will do the best I can while they are with me and then go home, love and care for my own children and let them play with Play-Doh.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Teaching Job Continued...

I teach mild to moderate Developmentally Cognitively Delayed teenagers. I have 2 periods of Life Science, 1 period of Personal and Family Resource Management, 1 period of Study Skills, 1 period of Reading and an Advisory. Up until today I didn't have anyone in my Reading class which was nice because I am so overwhelmed with teaching science with limited resources and having never taught science before that I kept quiet about the reading class.

Today though, another DCD teacher delivers two students to me and tells be that these two and one more student will be in my reading class. They are not in my computer and she has not officially changed their schedules, she just brings them to me. I don't have any reading books except two short books that I picked up a week ago at the library for .25 each. I have nothing. Well, I did have the Pioneer Press today, delivered to my room by the hard of hearing students. So, we picked up the newspaper and started browsing. This held their attention though for only so long. The two students that I have to teach reading to are both either 9th or 10th grade and do not read! I'm not sure that they will ever be able to read. They might be able to read small words. They recognize the letters from the alphabet but don't seem to be able to put the sounds together. Comprehension is very low as well so the newspaper terminology and way of writing, even though I was reading to them, was going way over their heads.

So, after school I went in search for reading curriculum. Two teachers who have students with more severe cognitive disabilities had a very comprehensive curriculum that they started at the beginning of the year and are making good progress. The principal agreed to order another set of this curriculum so I'm going to go for it. We'll see if it works. It is very set and rigid in it's instruction and I will be able to do it as long as I don't have more than three students because I need to work individually with them. So, we'll see. Wish me luck!

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Teaching Job

Two weeks ago today I started teaching again. I'm in an inner city public high school teaching Special Education. The school is 25% Special Ed, 40% African American, 20% Asian, 20% Hispanic, 17% White and 3% Native American.

I wanted to recount my first day as a teacher. I walk in to a room that is maybe 20 x 20, no windows, one small desk, a chair, a telephone, a metal cupboard, a white board (no markers), 3 rectangular tables, 8 chairs and a new Dell computer. This will be the room where I will teach science, reading, life skills and study skills to cognitively disabled youth. I don't have students until the following Monday when the new trimester starts so this is a week that I will figure out how to best teach these youth. I have no curriculum, nothing. I have never taught science before and I begin to wonder what I have gotten myself in to.

I am greeted by one lone teacher from the Special Education team. I ask her about curriculum and a budget. She tells me that I have $35.00 for the year to spend on materials but that I will probably spend this on copies since I have to pay for any that I make. She brings me down to the office to pick up the few basic supplies. I get an eraser, white board markers, a stapler, rubber bands, paper clips and a few other office type supplies along with AN AMERICAN FLAG! I go back to my room to see where I can hang my American flag (of course I don't have a flag holder) and seeing there is no where to put it, I sit down on my adjustable desk chair and immediately sink to the floor. Not figuratively, but literally...the chair was broken.

Next, I get a brief tour of the building and as I am touring the third floor I witness a fist fight between two African American males. Within seconds I hear a whistle blow and the principal appears to break it up along with some other administrators. I ask the teacher who is showing me around how we notify administrators when altercations like this arise, she suggests that I invest in a whistle.

Stay tuned for more stories from ..."The Teaching Job".