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09 March 2009

Stupid and retarded

I hate those words.

Today, one 12-year-old boy classified as having an emotional behavior disorder called another 12-year-old boy with high functioning Autism "stupid and retarded".

They were all sitting at a table waiting for the bus, and MK (mean kid, the one with emotional problems) was talking to another student about SK (smart kid, the one with Autism). Now SK does have a tendency to constantly talk and because of his Autism, he doesn't always catch onto social cues and can often talk your ear off. So MK goes "look at this clown, he never shuts up!!! He's so stupid and retarded.... like he doesn't shut up... no wonder he's in special ed... GOD, what a f***ing retard, shut the f*** up!!!" (and yes, that's pretty much verbatim).

Of course I immediately went over there and told him that I never want to hear him say that again or there will be consequences, and he's all like "but, but, he never stops talking! But Miss A, but but but".... ugh. I told him I don't care what the situation is but I never want to hear it again. He stopped and apologized to both me and SK.

I went over to SK and told him that he shouldn't take what MK was saying seriously, that he's obviously having a bad day and that he's not in any way stupid. SK told me that he knows that MK doesn't really mean it and that he's still his friend anyways. He said that he needs to work on being nice but we all have things to work on, and that he doesn't think MK is a bad person just because he does bad things. At that moment my heart pretty much broke into a million pieces.

But here's the kicker, Smart Kid is indeed smarter than Mean Kid, in terms of grade level functioning. In both reading and math. Mean Kid doesn't realize that he is in special ed. as well. There are so many things I could say about having kids with emotional behavior disorders and Autism in the same building, but that's another post for another day.

Moral of the story: There are some pure and amazing souls (like SK) out there who don't pass judgement even if someone is mean to them. Thank God for those people, you know?

Yummm meatballs...

I never have any good ideas for interesting titles, so I'm just going to start dating them.

First, in non-blog related news, I made meatballs for dinner tonight! All by myself, no recipe or anything. I'm really trying to do new things with cooking and attempting to get out of my "still-in-college-I-love-frozen-foods" stage. I ate them in a pita pocket with provelone and it was heavenly.

I'm also hopefully moving soon, which makes me excited. If everything works out the way we're planning, I'll be moving in with one of my very good friends in May or June. Keep your fingers crossed for me... I'm trying not to put all my eggs in one basket, but I reeealllly hope it works.

Overall, everything with teaching is going great. I'm in a great place with my paras and with my kids. I've been working really hard with the ABA (applied behavior analysis... basically behavior therapy for kids w/ autism) therapist who consults at my school and have been learning a lot. I'm doing really well with it and am happy, because it's something that I never felt like I'd get the hang of. My principal even told me that if I wanted to, I could do pre-K next year... which is a TON of work. The kids are so little, ABA is done all day, most aren't toilet trained, and there is a lot of oversight from the Dept. of Ed. because pre-K gets a lot of separate funding. I don't know if I'm interested, but it's nice to know that I'm one of the few people in my school who would be "qualified" to do the job.

Tomorrow should be a fun day... we have a birthday to celebrate so I baked a cake and we're having a pizza party. We get to have the pizza party because we were one of the winners in our school's science fair. Our grand prize(s) were a pizza party, take out for the adults, and a paid field trip anywhere in the 5 boroughs (within reason). So in April before our break we're going to the New York Hall of Science with 2 other classes.... even I'm looking forward to it!

02 March 2009


WE HAVE A SNOW DAY HERE FOR NYC PUBLIC SCHOOLS!!!!! (aka absolutely NO excuse for me not to blog)

Growing up, we'd have around 3 snow days per season it seemed, but here, there is NEVER a snow day. What does the city do when 1.1 million school-age kids are left at home with parents who may or may not be able to miss a day of work to care for them? It becomes quite a problem when it's on such a large scale. SO this is the first snow day in 5 years.. woo!

Last night we got hit with a classic "nor'easter" storm... lots of snow and very windy, straight up the coast (snow as far south as Georgia). The snow started at around 9 pm and continued through the night. I was up until about midnight (after a VERY exciting episode of "Brothers and Sisters") as I am almost every Sunday night... it's always really hard for me to get back into my weekday schedule. I reluctantly went to bed and woke up at 5:30 this morning to start the day.

I took my shower, checked the news, started the coffee, checked the news, blew dry and curled my hair, drank my coffee, checked the news, got dressed, checked the news and FINALLY there was the announcement! At first I thought it was a prank or maybe I was reading from an unreliable source (not that the local ABC station here would be inaccurate, but still), so I turned on the TV and didn't believe it until I heard the message from Chancellor Klein. Happy day!! I was then promptly flooded with about 6 text messages from various teachers about the good news... checked facebook and about 10 people had updated their statuses reflecting the March Miracle. Very happy and miraculous indeed.

Believe it or not, last night I was actually scared of the pending snow storm. Growing up for 21 years in Michigan you'd think I'd be able to handle it like a pro, but for some reason I just felt I could not mentally deal with trudging through more snow to work. So God definitely answered my prayers on this one. No mental anguish.. yippie.

In school related news, Quality Review is over which means we can all breathe a little. Last week was our first week back after our week-long midwinter break and the kids did just fine. Monday was a little rough but it's amazing how quick they fall back in place with solid daily routines. I've also implemented some new things in our day such as having a "Reader of the Week" and song of the week pertaining to whatever theme we're learning about that week (last week was doctors... this week "March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb").

The Reader of the Week came about really organically... it's just something little Ms. Devil* did one day, and it was a great experience. Basically she just came up and sat in my chair with the book of the week, and after getting mad for about a second because she was being crazy and not listening, I saw how she was modeling reading and it clicked how important that is and how every child should get the opportunity to be the teacher and model doing something correctly.

Even though she's only an "emergent speaker", she did great and prompted all of the kids to point to the doctor in the picture and showed them "ears", "stethoscope", "doctor", "shot", and all of the other important vocab in the book. For me it was just like WOO she gets it!!!!

And I'll try to post more regularly, I really will. Hope everyone's having a great Monday!

PS: I'm super proud of myself for NOT going to bed after hearing we had a snow day... I figured it's better to stay on my schedule and get work done around the apt.... and so far it's been great!

*Formerly called "The New Girl"

26 February 2009

I lied.

I lied re: a meaningful post happening today.

I went to the dentist (which scares the bejeebees out of me), braved the Trader Joe's crowd, came home and accidentally fell asleep at 7. Until 10. Oops. My dinner consisted of a few pieces of french baguette and fresh mozzarella... which is SO not a dinner.

Short version - kids are doing VERY well actually, I'm finally getting the hang of some important classroom technology, and meshing with my staff the way that I'd always wanted. So things are good. Oh! And we got "well developed" on our big review thing, which is the best score, so everyone is happy about that too.

More detail to come!

25 February 2009

I'm baaack..

Almost. Due to the fact that it's super late on Tuesday night and I have class all of Wednesday night, an update will be coming on Thursday.

Everything is good though... kids are talking, swallowing saliva, going potty, and hug each other constantly. All good things. More details on Thursday!

21 January 2009

More sickness

Ugh I'm officially really sick. Like had to go to the doctor type sick. I haaate the doctor so it was especially annoying because I didn't really have a doctor here in New York, until yesterday. And I don't like having to settle on a doctor based on what doctor could get me in that day to see me, but it actually turned out ok and she was really nice. Completely 1970's style office, but good doctor I think.

And the verdict: bronchitis and the flu. :(

They prescribed me an antibiotic for the bronchitis so now I'm just riding it out. I'm already feeling better. The doctor told me to take two days off from work, and to go back on Friday, but I might go back tomorrow. I'm already feeling better and just hate staying home doing nothing.

One of my favorite coworkers just called me and told me how much they missed me today... having someone say you're missed is one of the best things to hear, don't you think?

16 January 2009

Simple little words

As most of my readers know, my school is 100% special ed. Our two main populations are kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders and kids who are emotionally disturbed (ED). My students all have autism but I still interact daily with the kids with emotional disturbances, especially at the beginning and ends of the days during busing procedures.

One of the ED kids at my table in the afternoon, we'll call him Luis, is a seemingly ok-behaved 13 year old kid, but he definitely has his days that can escalate. Today was one of those days. He's a pretty big kid, definitely stronger than me, so physical restraint is out of the question. I don't know what happened during the day with his classmate but they got to busing and things were really heated.

I could tell things could get bad so I sat by him and asked him what was going on. Normally he kind of ignores me or gives me some smart-ass comment but today he was actually talking real to me. I'm not going to do a play-by-play of the whole conversation, but simply saying to this kid "I care about you and what happens to you" made a world of difference. Luis told me that no one cared, there's no way I could care, I wasn't even his teacher. It was hard to know what to say after that, but I just told him that he's too smart to be fighting like that and that because he's such a leader, he needs to work especially hard on his behavior. He was a little taken aback that I actually told him that, and I was shocked. These kids NEVER hear that anyone cares about them or what they do. Sometimes we think that it's implied we care, but unless you explicitly say it, they have NO idea.

And his response to my profession of care and concern?

"Yo, sorry I got mad crazy for a minute Miss A. If I knew you cared I woulda been better this year. I try harder. PEACE."

Oh kids.

15 January 2009

Hanging in there..

Today is my first sick day. I wasn't violently ill or throwing up or anything, but I definitely don't feel up to par. Chest cold I think, but not completely sure. At least Dr. Google says it's a chest cold, and if it is, I don't want it turning into bronchitis. More than anything, it just makes me grumpy. And I was one grumpy teacher yesterday. Let me explain.

One of my students, we'll call him Mr. Chatterbox, got on my last nerve yesterday. Normally, I absolutely love him because he's silly, funny (even though he doesn't try to be), and is generally a good student. But ohmygosh, chatterbox is the only way I can describe him. This kid DOES NOT stop talking! But it's not like you can understand anything he says. He has severe speech problems so usually it's just a mix of words and I try to decipher the idea based on the 2% of words that are actually articulated.

At breakfast, the kids usually put their backpacks and coats under one end of the table. Our breakfast table is right next to the lunch line. Yesterday, as we were getting ready to go upstairs to our class, Mr. Chatterbox got his things and in the process flung 3 jackets into the lunch line. I told him to look at where the other jackets are. That's what happens when you aren't paying attention and someone can slip and fall on them. (I tell him this everyday so this isn't the first time he's heard of this concept.) I told him that he needed to pick them up and put them back under the table so no one stepped on them. He of course didn't understand me and just said "WHAT? NO!" So I simplified my speech and just told him to pick up the jackets. Again, "WHAT, NO!" So frustrating.

Then all day, it was "Miss A, I DID IT! I FINISHED! I'M DONE! LOOK AT ME! WHO'S THAT (on the phone)?? WHAT TIME IS? WHAT DAY IS? WHAT DO NEXT?** MISS A MISS A MISS A MISS A!!!!" Normally this doesn't bother me too much, but yesterday it was just too much. I eventually just started ignoring him. Sounds horrible, but really... I had to just ignore him.

During my prep periods another teacher comes in the room and is their teacher for that period and sometimes I stay in the room because I need to be doing things at the computer or around the room or whatever. But every 2 minutes, Mr. Chatterbox has something to say to me. So now I can't spend any preps in the room because it's way too distracting.

Everyday, this kid says my name well over 60x. I never thought I'd hate my name as much as I do at the end of everyday. It sounds horrible but it's true. I can't stand how he interrupts every conversation regardless of how much we teach not to. Guess I need to start doing more social skills lessons :-/

**This type of speech with the verb at the end seems to be the new "axed" (as opposed to asked). At first i just thought it was because my kids have severe language/communication delays, but my friends in general ed. are saying they hear this all the time too. And I've heard it being used outside of the school too. Anyone else notice this??

11 January 2009

Lazy blogger

That would be me. Vacation was relaxing and full of resting, but I still wasn't ready to get back to the city and start work. It took me like 3 days to even open my suitcase... oops.

The first week back wasn't horrendous, like I was expecting. For some reason the past week was plagued with absences, and I only had 4 students for 3 of the 5 days, so that definitely made the week easier. I got a new U shaped table for my class so I was able to move my bean shaped one over to where my SmartBoard is. Sounds silly but it was SO exciting. The U shape is better than the bean shape because you can actually physically reach the kids. Not as much work space, but proximity is definitely my #1 priority. One of my lower-functioning students doesn't have any skills yet for whole or small group instruction and has been sitting at a separate desk instead of the table with everyone else. However I'm slowly trying to incorporate him into more small and whole group instruction activities so he has the opportunities to learn those skills, and the U shape will definitely be a huge help in that.

I also (finally) got a literacy curriculum! 4 months into the school year... but better late than never, right? My school has given me "Fundations" by the Wilson program, does anyone have experience with it? It seems to be pretty comprehensive, we'll see how it works out. The other 1st grade teacher at my school is also just getting familiar with the program, so hopefully we can collaborate on some things. Ideally, I'd like to split our two classes into two different literacy groups and have her take one group and I take another. Then we can switch groups every month or something. Maybe won't happen this year but it's definitely a goal for next year.

Well it's already Monday morning (12:04 am)... oops again. Better get some sleep to kick off the week. Happy Monday everyone!