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02 September 2008

One down....

Well, I survived. Actually, I shouldn't say it like that because it wasn't that bad. I think the first day of my teaching career went about as well as it could have. Let me recap.

Got up pretty early (5am.. I know.) because I wanted to make sure I had my stuff together and got in early. Check and check. I had 2 huge bags and a bunch of posters to carry... fun, believe me. People on the subway are pretty interested in what you teach, where you teach, etc etc. So that made for some good convos. Plus, there were many other young, white, brand new teachers traveling up to the Bronx, so I had an impromptu pump up session with some other new teachers on the 2 train today. Pretty cool.

Got to school, calmed my nerves with a fellow fellow (har har har), and headed down to the cafeteria, where the kids come after busing and eat breakfast. For the longest while, I had no kids. Just me, alone, at the lunch table. Finally, they started trickling in, one by one. Here's a quick cast of characters:

Mr. Dimples: Pretty self explanatory why he has that name. He's non-verbal but according to the speech therapist, he's at the beginning stages of coherent words. So that will be very exciting to try to develop that in him. Fascinated with the window and looking out of it... makes me terrified (we're on the 4th floor). Poor motor skills, can't hold pencil, recognize letters, short attention span. Another teacher said he might be slightly mentally retarded, and I think I can see that in him. Cutest boy ever though... such a cuddle bug and just always wants to sit on your lap. Not potty trained... haven't had to deal with it yet.

Mr. Talkative: VERY difficult to understand this boy. He talks, and if you listen carefully, you understand. But I found myself saying "WHAT???" so many times today. I definitely need to learn "his language". He talks a lot though, and I'm sure it's great stuff, but I just need to become a better listener. Very smart boy, has great and imaginative ideas. Can write his name, identify letters, knows his numbers, etc etc. Don't have much more to say about him right now.

Mr. Genius: Came in with his mom who is very involved. A para mentioned that it could get annoying, and I can see that (maybe someday), but I think it's great and am really looking forward to parental involvement. He has an outside ABA therapist, which is great, and you can see it in his social skills. He's very polite and always answers small talk questions. Knows alphabet, can spell full name, also very imaginative. He told me all about the TMNT (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles... they're now acronym-ized and the turtles are referred to as Mike, Raf, Donny, and Leo... hmm, strange...). Math seems to be his strong point and from my very very brief assessment, he's either right at grade level or even a little above, which is AMAZING.

Ms. Apprehensive*: She came in late and was brought in by her mother, so there's another parent met and hopefully impressed. She came to me willingly but was shy as we made our way up to my room. When we got to the room she just stood there and slowly backed out. She eventually came around but didn't want anyone to touch her... she needed to absorb her new atmosphere. Totally cool... I can completely relate. So we gave her her space, and about 5 minutes later, she came up to me ready to work. She quickly got into the routine but was really quiet. Then, in the afternoon, when I did her one on one assessment, I couldn't get her to STOP talking! We did a "picture walk" though a book, and she made up the entire story. Great imagination, amazing comprehension skills, and what impressed me most was how in tune she was to the characters feelings and emotions. This is often a source of trouble for people with autism, so I was amazed that she could tell me that this character is happy and I can tell because he's smiling.

The New Girl*: The new girl was brought to me, I was given a piece of paper, and was told, here's her mother (parent number 3 of the day). That's it. Tried to talk to the mother, but had a bit of a language issue. So I got the information I could but at the same time tried to make her feel as comfortable in the school as possible, because I'm sure it's intimidating. Come to find out at the end of the day, she's actually a Kindergarten student, not first grade like my others. But she still belongs in my class because it's an "early childhood" class. So I'm glad that I tried to reassure her mother and spend a little time talking to her.... I had no idea it was her first day of school. But with the limited info on the new girl it was hard to know what she was like. Was she verbal? Violent? Any self-stimming behavior? Allergies? I mean there are a ton of things you need to know, and I just wasn't given this information. She's an explorer and wouldn't leave the things on my desk alone. We're definitely going to have to remedy that. At first we were all a little wary of her, but by the end of the day she was playing with the others and seemed to fit right in. It was also difficult because for the entire day we didn't know how to correctly pronounce her name, but I discussed it with the mom after school, thank God. I'd hate to call a kid the wrong name for the whole year.

So that's my list so far. There's one more who didn't come today, I'm expecting him tomorrow. My day went relatively well. Here's an excerpt from a colleague about her first day (she has high school emotionally disturbed):

here is an example of what the kids did today: i was reading aloud a
survey of questions i wanted them to answer and this is what i got:
what is one strength of yours? fucking. that is what one kid wrote.

I'm glad my kids are cuddly and like to color. God bless those who have the strength and patience to deal with the emotionally disturbed group though. Another funny first day thing... another colleague of mine had a student eat (yes, eat) things in her class. Lesson plans, class decorations, supplies, etc. In his stomach.

So relatively, my day was GREAT.

*These names will be changed... Ms. Apprehensive will not be apprehensive forever and The New Girl will not be new forever.


Mom said...

You did a lot better than survive - it sounds like you had a pretty darn good first day!

Donna said...

wow, what a sypnosis of your first day! This is better than a diary! Keep up the good work and give the kid a special hug from me.......the one that described his "strength" so eloquently! xoxo

Beth said...

Congratulations on a successful beginning to the school year. The night before is always a sleepless one for me. My staff loved the story about your friend in the high school! Have a good first week!