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Everyone keeps telling me I need to make more time for myself, but as a first year teacher who happens to have ADHD herself, I spend a lot of time up at the school. But, although I'm only home for an average of 8hrs/day on weekdays, when I am home, I don't think about school at all. When I shut and lock my apt door, I completely shut off pretty much all thoughts about school. Now, school does sometimes creep into my dreams, but when I get home, I feed my cat, grab a small dinner, and watch a little anime before falling sound asleep. However, I am positive that the only reason I am able to let it all go the moment I get home is because when I leave school each day, I know I couldn't have gotten anything more done, I did all I could. It's been a rough first year. I'm in a very small high school in a very small district. My students abilities are all over the board. I've got some students who really need life skills classes, but before I arrived, our life skills curriculum was random. I have spend hours writing curriculum everyday. I also have a couple of students who should be in life skills, but their parents are in denial and nobody has bothered to break it to them yet. So, I spend a lot of time emailing parents and telling teachers they can modify an assignment, but it has to resemble the original assignment somewhat, and then that we can't hold the student's hand through the whole assignment. We are not building independence, but then I have parents who are yelling at me because their child is barely passing a class. I also about 2wks in to school had a student show up to register on a Tuesday and his IEP was going to expire on Friday! We held the meeting on Wed to stay in compliance, but I'm still working on writing the IEP, and because I'm still getting to know him, I need to read his eval carefully, and it's the longest eval I've ever seen for a kid categorized as OHI for ADHD, it's like 50+ pages! Did I mention that I have a new (out of district) 9th grade student who has an aversive intervention plan, and about 2% of the time has a major behavior and becomes very destructive and aggressive? He blew up on the late register new student's 3rd day, and hit that student. I did my student teaching in a behavior intervention type classroom, so the whole incident didn't really freak me out. However, I guess my current district and school are not used to dealing with students like that and the environment since has been very reactionary. Lastly, I have some very different opinions on things from the other sped teachers at my school (there's only 4 including me, and they're all at an age where they either could retire right now, or could in the 5yrs probably). I often feel like my opinion is not respected. In "Study Skills" my job is to essentially be a glorified homework tutor who collects data for IEP goals, rather than someone who delivers SDI as explicit intervention in content areas. But in life skills, because I'm scrambling to come up with meaningful curriculum rather than providing worksheets that I have to still spend time looking for so they're appropriate, but aren't really meaningful, I have the kids spending lots of time building soft social skills via playing educational games, and I'm getting glared at constantly because I don't have it together yet. My mentor teacher has given me advice that has gotten me in "trouble" a number of times. So, I'm having to follow my gut instinct, which usually serves me well, but for someone who likes to collaborate, I am really struggling with that. I am also someone who thrives on constructive criticism, but constructive being the key word. Like most people, I work best with the sandwich technique, tell me something I'm doing well, tell me what I need to work on, finish up with something positive. Well, today, I got an email from the assistant principal, no subject, just said, "Can you stop by and see me after school today?" We talked about how the light filters I want for my classroom, aren't his favorite solution for the fact that the fluorescent lights have been giving me migraines, he thinks it would look tacky and wouldn't be appropriate for a high school, even though I found them in the teen/HS section of a sped catalog, instead I should just really try taking out most of the bulbs and seeing how that goes. He then went on to talk about everything I did wrong at my first "regular" IEP meeting last week (the first was that rushed one); I didn't have my papers organized (yeah, I'm still trying to figure out where IEP Online prints all of the different pieces), and when I clicked print all, it came out in an order that was different from what I was used to. I also let the meeting take too long apparently; I got the gen-ed teachers out of there before their contracted day ends at 2:30pm, and the rest of the time it was just me, mom, the student, and my assistant principal (as the district rep), but I guess that going over the PLOPs and how I obtained the data and what/how I was measuring things (which is pretty different from how my predecessor did it), and the goals, and talking about post secondary outcomes, is too much. At no point did I feel like the parent was in a rush, and much the IEP meeting was like a conversation about the student in all of the different areas. It was by no means the longest IEP meeting I've been too; in my practicum I attended an IEP meeting that started at 3:15pm and I left the school with my master teacher at 5:30pm. I was also scolded for making an off the cuff comment about not knowing why the post secondary outcomes from the last IEP said the student will work in the construction trade, which from what I know of the student, I can't see him in a hard hat using a hammer at all, so I made the remark of, "I don't know why it says construction trade." My bad on this one, yes, I know it comes off as putting down my predecessor, and I shouldn't have said it like that. But at this point, my assistant principal and closest administrator, has just criticized me on three things. The most positive thing I heard in the whole meeting, said in a not very reassuring tone, "Well, I guess you're still learning." Staying ahead isn't even an option right now. I'm working constantly to just keep up. I would've quit by now if it weren't for my two Educational Assistants. I also owe a lot to my peer tutors who take on all kinds of jobs, I have one right now, who is actually more like a student teacher, and another one who is helping me actually get everything in my room organized as I had all sorts of obstacles that really prevented me from getting an organization system going prior to school really getting started. Despite it all, I refused to give up, which is why I'm putting in the long hours. I think that if I wasn't giving it my all to make it something I was at least somewhat happy with, I would be even more miserable. I may have like no life right now, and my cat hates me because I am never home, and when I am, I'm only awake for like 3hrs (2 at night and 1 in the morning). But, like I said, when I go home and shut the door, I have 8-10hrs where I pretend this place called my job and school doesn't even exist. I love the kids and I will give everything. I'm swimming for the surface and I have plans on how to slowly cut back how many hours I spend at school once I finally break the surface, but I've still got like another 50ft to go!
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Oct 7, 2013