Tuesday, February 28, 2006

and another thing...

Lesson planning for kids who can't sit still and have very short attention spans... plus I don't understand what they like and how to deliver it educationally.

Helicopter parents is apparently the term for 2 that I have the dubious pleasure of dealing with more than once every day....

Tears before bedtime

How to describe what I am feeling today... tired and emotional almost covers it. I couldn't keep it together any longer at the end of today. Too much. Started getting all teary. Two of the kids went nuts at the end of the day. Actually, that's not true. They were their usual selves, I just couldn't handle it... and I am SO sick of the parents! I just wish they'd......... Chatted to one of the physios and got it back together (sort of) for the last of my induction sessions... we get to the end and I'm asked if I'm ok and then worse, I get a hug... so the tears come back and I scarper to the kitchen for another cup of tea with 3 sugars to try to calm me down before I start sobbing. Feel like such a dill for crying in front of the APs, but it was all a bit too much today. People keep asking how they can help and there's not much anyone can do, I have plenty of support for the stuff I need in the classroom but this is in my head. There is a guidance counsellor in tomorrow and one of the APs said she'd take over for me at the kids lunch time for me to speak to her. That's nice but if I get all teary and then have to have my photo taken, I'm not going to be happy. But if that happens I won't have been happy in the first place.

Monday, February 27, 2006


I am making myself miserable by being unable to live up to unrealistic expectations I have of myself. There is nothing wrong with work but what's in my head. I have run out of whatever nervous energy (adrenaline?) that has been keeping me going for the last four weeks. Today was ok, swimming is always good, my noisy disruptive kid was sick and my hitter didn't come in til lunch, then went on a PD thing to a special school down down the highway, the rooms we saw were really cool and mine feels so empty and disorganised. I keep feeling like I need to do more. How do I make limits for myself?

Sunday, February 26, 2006


My 5 little monkeys have turned into Pandas... they must have, because it was Panda-monium on Friday!

Friday drinks were good. Learnt more about the internal (infernal?) politics and workings of the primary school and made some new friends. I have some interesting facial expressions to watch out for in the two across the hall. Until now I hadn't found a decent pseudonym for them, at drinks I found they are often called the Princesses of Darkness or DNA... Are you thinking what I'm thinking? With their habit of dressing the same frequently I decided they will hence forth be known as B1 & B2 – that's far more in keeping with primary and I haven't noticed anything negative about them apart from their tendency towards seriousness... Ok, that should, perhaps, be a crime, but I need them a lot more than they need me... I find it sad though that every time I attempt to stir (one of my favourite pastimes) it falls completely flat. I may even give up... if I can stop myself! But I have found some places where the stir will be appreciated. Unfortunately, some of my co workers have found out that I can laugh 'til I snort and worked out a very good way of making it happen. I smile even thinking about it... next week will be interesting as I'm sure their aim will be to make me laugh at inappropriate times... and it will happen!

Friday we had a family fun afternoon. I finally met Cinderella's mum who is so hugely pregnant that her front looks kind of lumpy. It was really weird but I tried not to look. Cinderella won her race coz she can actually run! Everyone got a prize though. It was really hot and uncomfortable in the hall and it is still hard to get my new parents to separate from their kids. Gave Goldilock's family a copy of a photo I took of her on the computer. She is still and her hands aren't in her ears. They were thrilled to get such a good picture. The trick is turning the flash and the sound off on the camera and sneaking up on her...

School photo's on Wednesday... Eeek! What will I wear?

Friday was actually better than last week which was nice... and a lot better than Thursday!

Thursday, February 23, 2006


I'm still tired and stressed.

Not about anything in particular either.

Drinking a pint of vodka, lemon lime and bitters and eating blue cheese on crackers.

By lunchtime, when my preps went home early for the last time, I was feeling very defeated. Despite great support and the rest of the day on APT I still feel quite that way. 2 of my kids are badly behaved in a way that has nothing to do with their disabilities. It makes it really hard to get anything done, the others miss out on attention and help and they frustrate the hell out of everyone. Not to mention my 2 pain in the butt parents (although one is better than the other).

Cheese gone.

I am also very tired. When I went into the staffroom to have my lunch before yard duty, I must have looked a bit the worse for wear. I said a little about ,my morning and when I sat down one of the other newish teachers (she had taught here before but was employed this year as the music teacher) moved to sit next to me and ask if I needed to talk about it. I shared my frustrations and got lots of support and a hug. I really need advice from people who have raised a pack of brats themselves about how to deal with behaviour that isn't appropriate whether you are disabled or not. It was nice that the specialists who only see my kids once a week said that they have already noticed improvements. I guess its hard when you see them every day to see the little stuff. Yeah, one may be sitting attentively (strangely at this school they call it attending – i.e. she attended well for at least 15 minutes – in my dreams!) for a little longer and she came up to me and said hello this morning, but... by hitting me! Swings and roundabouts, I guess.

At our computer session today the IT guy reckoned it could be September when everything starts to fall into place... I have to admit I was a little horrified. I am impatient I want them ALL to behave like civilised little people right now!

Drink gone... another?

Left at a reasonable time today and had a quick chat about similar things to one of the APs. She also thought I looked tired but thought it was good that I was still smiling. It would be good if she comes to play in my room and has a look at the class dynamics... I'll also see if I can have one of the wiser prep teachers across the hall come and see my little monkeys.

I just have to look at it as small changes leading to big stuff. I feel bad that I worked out that if one of my kids is lying on the floor coz she doesn't want to do what you want her to do... that she will get up and follow you if you hold a ball out in front of her... I feel like I am treating her like a puppy... At lunch people thought that was a good break though and if I can make the ball smaller and smaller 'til you just tell her to get up and come, then it is a great start to have found a motivator for her... I feel that they have a good point but it still feels a bit wrong when I do it. With my naughty 2 it is a definite battle of wills, which I guess I would have had with teenagers if I'd been teaching them too. I need to pick and choose my battles so they can win some but I win the important ones (another bit of received wisdom) but I don't know that I have the experience to decide which is which.

Meetings can have weird groups dynamics. It's hard not to laugh, sometimes I don't even try not to.

I am so looking forward to going to the footy on the weekend. I will have a good yell! It is on late Sunday arvo, I will probably have not so much voice left for Monday. I guess at least with only 5 kids I never have to yell or really raise my voice – that's nice I suppose...

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

So many...

Am tired and finding it hard to think right now. Left work really late coz I was helping another teacher with some computer stuff. I don't mind helping someone learn stuff I can do because there are plenty of things I can't do that I will need advice and help with in the future. The school has some different programs to what I generally use so I learnt some new things too. Have to chase the IT guy tomorrow about an email I got sent today about getting a Department of Ed lap top in the next round. Can't get access to the website I need to sign up on (by 5pm tomorrow) from any computer I try. Neither at home or at school – on two different operating systems... tomorrow...

Had a good morning with the kids but Snow White's mum is still a pain. The head of junior school is getting on her case now, which is a relief to me. I need to maintain a good relationship with her but can't teach and tell her to rack off tactfully as well. SW was better today anyhow, and working a bit with the speechies was great as SW seems so much more confident when she has compics to point at. She will try harder to communicate. The pics from kinder are a bit random so we'll work at school on developing an effective communication method... I think she'll be much happier then.

Got some time off this arvo when my 'older' two went for an extra swim. I went down to watch for a bit and chat to the teacher who swam with Little Red Ridinghood last year and see what needs doing. Cinderella had some goggles for the first time and it made a great difference. I heard that all sorts of great improvements happened after I dragged my feet out of the pool and went back to do some work. So no more mucking about on Mondays! All laps and hard work for my little monkey from now on! Except for when we do a big bomb into the pool for a start...

I got a fridge in my room today! A bar fridge but unfortunately not ready stocked...

I need to get program folders up and running soon and a CRT folder and tidy my office space that looks like a paper explosion, and have a look at what I'll need to do for reports for my 'oldies'...

...disconnected thoughts...

Compic: Communication Pictures

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Big Tuesday

Went to a PSG at Snow White's integration primary school today. The school is great and her teachers are great, mum has issues, many issues. She is so negative she is bringing me down. Her take on everything is bad. She won't listen. Her kid is fine, especially when she is not around, but she wants to see everything that we do... It's not helping her kid any. It's getting hard to be polite. The other school are very firm, I guess they are used to her as her other daughter goes there, but it doesn't help us much yet... maybe it will in the end. The teachers from her school are going to come and visit us and see what we are doing in a couple of weeks. That will be good. I got to know one of the APs better on the car trip so that was good. I think I may have said too much, but I keep having that feeling...

At least I know my other two kids love me. Cinderella is being very affectionate now and ran to me after library saying she's missed me (coz I'd been away at the PSG for the morning) and Little Red Ridinghood always seems excited to see me. It will be good when I have the preps all day and get to know them a bit better. I don't need universal adoration but I have to spend all year with these kids, I want them to like me.

I have discovered that having only five kids to wrangle means that documentation and reporting is huge! And with the new system the government, in all it's wisdom is bringing in, it is apparently quite daunting for most staff. The wiser prep teachers across the hall said they'd help me after school one day and they reckon we could knock over the two older kids reports in an arvo. I like the sound of that. The preps are on a different time frame which is good. I really need to look into this paperwork stuff I am avoiding....

What else today... ummm more indoctrination induction after school, learnt how to put LRR in her standing frame, now just have to work it into the schedule... didn't do any direct teaching today and missed my rug rats, behaved in a silly fashion during yard duty – got one kid so excited she threw up! Oops! Prior to that had been being silly at lunch with my 2 non preps. They love it! My babysitting teacher who had my kids this morning said that things were a bit more serious last year across the hall, so the kids are having a bit of a new experience in teacher style... hehehe.

ok. need to do some cutting out and watch the last ten minutes of the OC. I should have been doing that all the way through. and this later... next week. If I remember it's on......

Monday, February 20, 2006

Mondays are too big for my poor brain

Had a great time at swimming today with LRR and got some great feedback from one of the swimming helpers. She asked how long I had been teaching and she was surprised when I said 3 weeks and 1 day. She reckons I have a really good relationship with the kids and some teachers who have taught for years still aren't that way with the kids. Warm fuzzies! I just love working with my kids. They frustrate me and annoy me sometimes but who doesn't! Someone asked me where I had taught before the other day – or was that today, Monday is a big day – people seem to think I am fitting in well (which is nice) and seem to know what I am doing (doing a good job of faking it, apparently).

Snow White was back to day as was her clingy mum. Thankfully, she got a talking to from the head of primary and the other prep teacher and they told her she's just have to be brave and leave her at the door and get the office staff to take Snow White down to class. Tomorrow I have a meeting at her integration primary school, which her mum will be at, so her dad will take her to school, wish I could be in 2 places at once and see how she is with him.

Currently on high rotation in the CD player: 'A-Z of Kids songs' from the ABC... and I actually like some of them. I don't understand the 'Quartermaster's Store', but I like it. Cranking it up for 'Rockin' Robin'!

Strange as it may seem, I am a bit intimidated by the principal. She seems really nice, but she scares me just a little... Make of that what you will.

The eternal debate occurred again after swimming before school. What do you do about crap teachers in the system? I changed sides today and tried out some other arguments... There is no answer and I feel somewhat uncomfortable with the question when I can see how far away I am from how I want to be as a teacher. My swimming mate and the head of primary school went to a PD about mentoring last week and it seems she made a bit of a stir when she asked the question about what to do when at the end of the year she doesn't want to tick the no worries or the needs more time box, she wants a perhaps you should consider a different career box!

One of the teachers in primary school who I thought was going bitter when I first met her is actually very funny and great to ask questions of. I am getting to know the other two 'new to primary' teachers. They are very welcoming of questions and make me laugh. Perhaps it's bitter humour... or wry observation... or too much like the truth that if you didn't laugh you'd cry...

A thought from last week... where are my kids really at? Spent some time one on one with LRR and discovered she's not really as advanced as I thought she was. She talks the talk, but when you actually get her to do something for you... one of the physios agreed. He had a cool technical name for it but I forgot it immediately... I started thinking that if she's not where I thought she was, where are the others? With Goldilocks her eyesight is an interesting question. We don't really know yet how much she can see, how much of 'I want to see it closer' is genuine not another (I want my jacket off, shoes off, to look in the mirror, go outside, go for a walk, go to the toilet, a hug...) avoidance tactic. But she'll come out with some correct answers when you least expect it. It will be nice when Snow White settle in. She is a gem. An adorable child who is quite with it but timid and has a lot of difficulty communicating. Hope fully we'll get an idea of where she's at when she settles in a bit more.

Sleeping Beauty had a nap at her desk today. She's another one you wonder where she's at. She understands a lot of what's going on in general but isn't interested most of the time in what's on offer educationally. I guess that's up to me to fix.

I nearly fell asleep in the staff meeting this arvo.

I broke my window winder. If I'd known where some plyers were I could of done it myself but it was good to see the principal in action. I like women who can do stuff for themselves. The AP I like best wants to come play in my room and meet my kids. I'm told she tells good stories but I'd rather she didn't make LRR scream again... She says she doesn't like wussy kids.... I think I'll see if she'll come on Friday... that would be handy...

Darling, it's better, down where it's wetter.

U – Under the Sea

Friday, February 17, 2006


I found the Friday after school drinking crew! It is so nice to wind down, debrief, whinge and get school out of your system before the weekend. It's also good to meet people you may be able to be friends with, but you don't work directly with.

I was telling one of the blokes about my theory of eyes and ears open, mouth shut and he reckons eventually when you hear all the different sides of what goes on in the place it doesn't seem like black and white any more just varying shades of grey.

Interesting observation from the senior school is that students there behave badly towards staff who treat them as if they don't have a brain. It's clear despite their disability that they know what's going on, but it's fully 'able' people who can't see or understand it.

I don't like Friday's at school. It's too hard. I have no specialists in or APT. My kids are a lot to handle at the moment and I don't have enough help on Friday with one of my SSOs off work with a broken pelvis! Maybe when my newies have settled in it will be easier and I wont feel like I'm short changing the well behaved students. I think that happens in all classes though – the squeeky wheel gets the oil.

First school assembly today. It was terrible. Embarrassing. Nice to meet some new kids though. I only had to take 2 kids but it turns out that last year Little Red Ridinghood had a screming fit at just about every assembly. Too many loud noises. However, the lovely librarian is very skilled at settling her down. I took LRR to a different spot when the first one started and was trying to calm her when I was rescued and she was right in less than a minute. The second time it started the lovely librarian just came and took her away... and then wizzed her around for a bit which worked wonders. After than when I suspected there might be a loud noise I helped her to cover her ears! It is something I will keep in mind for next time.

High schools are all about photocopying. This school is all about laminating.

SSO: School Support Officer. Usually these are office staff but here it covers office staff, program workers, helpers etc...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Thursday, Week 3, Day 14

Primary meeting this morning was made very much better by the apple crumble that one of the other teachers brought in. It was great! It may have been the sugar that made me agree to be the primary school rep on the social committee. It didn't sound too hard, no one else was keen, and events are something I can handle both ideas and organisation wise so I shouldn't feel too out of my depth. I think there are worse ways of getting involved in the school community.

Had my first team meeting this arvo, I went ok. My physio and OT are really nice to work with, it feels like we are all trying to do the same thing. Heading in the same direction is a great feeling, even if none of us are exactly sure what we are doing yet (this is mainly because the preps are so new to us and to school). I think having a supportive team takes some of the pressure off me and means I don't have to be a stand alone teacher – just me in the classroom type thing.

My Snow White was away again and the wiser teachers across the hall recommended that I give mum a call and see how she is going. Just to keep in touch at this early stage and let the kid know we miss her... It was the right thing to do, mum was very appreciative and kid had given the cold to dad – a sweet and sharing lass! She is well enough to go to her integration school tomorrow though. I have to go to a meeting there on Tuesday and I will have seen her for a total of 9/12 days only 6 without her mum present. It's not a lot to go on and I don't know what will happen at this meeting.

We had further discipline issues today with Goldilocks and may have to have a time out or naughty chair. We will present decisions differently and have consequences. I spoke to mum briefly at 12 and they don't have any particular way of responding to her 'strong willed' nature but are happy for us to give different things a try. As much as I feel I am neglecting my better behaved kids to deal with this we need to get on top of things in a firm and consistent way now. It will drive me mental otherwise!

I am getting better at the words and actions to 5 little monkeys and More little monkeys (6 to 10). It is my release valve. If I have to fill for a bit or need to get a different attitude happening we either read or put the music on. It makes me feel better as sometimes they are very very easy to imagine as 5 little monkeys going bananas!

From reading other teaching blogs, I suspect that the feeling that I could always be doing more is going to be a keeper! This will be one of the great learning experiences of teaching. How to pull back whilst staying enthused. Being a good teacher without burning out. A blog alone will not keep me sane..............

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Wednesday = Hump day

Am starting to notice politics about the place. Eyes and ears open and mouth shut (...if I can remember that last bit).

Am getting a lot of positive feedback about how I am going. It helps that the last teacher in my room was apparently crap (and even said out loud that she considered that all she was doing was babysitting). It also helps with that feeling that I'm not where I want to be as a teacher. That will take time but I am ever impatient.

I have some classroom/student management issues. Including a mother who's not keen on the word no and a student who is very loud, uncooperative and disruptive. I feel a bit out of my depth with behavioural management of small children. I will try a few things and ask around for suggestions.

My student with the clingy mum hasn't been to school at all this week. It will be hard for her to come back and harder for the mum, perhaps. She has had a head cold – the sniffles or really sick? We shouldn't make judgements. I have this strange lingering feeling that I won't see her again. But the kid has to go somewhere and from the sounds of it the primary school she is having an integration day at are keen for her to be with us for a while. We'll see.

My lesson planning keeps going wrong. Their attention span is so short but it takes so long to get anything started. I'll get a balance eventually, I hope. It's just frustrating.

Got chairs with boards for my two tippers and they seem to work quite well. The aim is not to need to tie them in, one day, in the future (in a galaxy far far away...).

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Grown up? What, me???

Just a quick post as I'm off to give blood. The only thing my heart is involved in this St Valentines day!

Today was pretty good. Arrived early, got stuff done. Only had 3 kids As Sleeping Beauty had a Drs appointment and -let's call her- Snow White who was away yesterday too has a head cold. The two who are with me all day are getting used to me now, I need to start putting some ground rules down about what my limits are I guess... otherwise we can just find out kind of organically, I guess.

Had just me and and aide in the morning and we did some games, singing 5 Little Monkeys and reading the book and some counting (and singing...) with the apples on our tree [except the song is the same tune as 10 green bottles, so we kept singing wall instead of tree!]. Middle session I had time off for good behaviour and they went to Music and Library! After lunch (-:yard duty is still fun:-), We had physical program with another class. We set up a course up, over, through soft big obstacles, along a beam, up and down stairs and some throwing and catching too. It was great to work one on one with a student as you really get to see their improvement. And whilst this was happening the physio got me some chairs with boards on the bottom to try tomorrow!

Could not convince Cinderella that I was just a big kid. “No. You're a grown up!” {sigh} I guess it's official then...

Had some induction thing today after school. It was ok, got to ask questions, found out stuff.

Kept seeing the principal out of the corner of my eye today, she seemed to be everywhere I was going past. Odd.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Monday: Week 3

Monday. It's hard to find much to say because there is so much I feel I need to be doing... So I have done some of it already.

I came home earlier than I probably would have because the computer in my room is crap and old and I haven't got my grubby mitts on department of education laptop (with the wireless internet through the school) yet. The computer didn't have a clue what to do with my memory stick, so I figured it would be better just to come and do stuff at home where it will also be easier to download pictures I took of the kids today and just burn it all on to a disk to take in tomorrow.

And I have cutting out to do!

Today was fine. Slightly chaotic as usual. Sleeping Beauty was very alert and talkative (in her own way) today. She knows what's going on but is just not interested in it. We are still working on the games you like - we do not think they are funny... No chucking stuff on the floor. No hitting other kids. No grabbing glasses. And if you want to sulk about it, that's fine. Student management! Little Red Ridinghood chucked a 'nana at me after swimming, we'd had fun, although I found she is a lot more distracted with her good mate Cinderella around. Not happy with something whilst we were getting changed, that turned into a crying screaming thing that she is apparently well known for, that made me feel quite bad because I couldn't make it better... She had settled down by the time she was waiting for the bus...

Got some maths books for Cinderella as I feel I should be doing more for her at this point... some revision then get her going on some new work. She works well independently which is a relief. Will have to think out a plan of attack (or even a lesson plan.........) for money, time and a continuation of adding and subtracting.

School photo's coming up soon, bugger.

Friday, February 10, 2006





P___ (pathetically, piss, predictably) Circle the word I am most likely to use in this blank.



It wasn't really my fault, but it made my life a tad more exciting than I really want to have to deal with a) on a Friday b) on my own. I thought we had a physical program and had no plan as I thought I'd make one up with the physio... it had gone pear shaped last friday too but I was told that was because my physio was away. Turns out, I don't have a physio session then at all... So when the kids were a bit ratty coming in from play I let them loose for a bit thinking we'd pull it back together... To keep them in the classroom and try to get things going in an educational direction (with no help) I had to lock the classroom door top stop them escaping! It was a bit difficult getting anything productive out of the two destructive students because I could only be with one at a time at the tables, but until I have them in chairs they can't tip over when strapped in, I can't line them all up and do a game or story by myself. It was really frustrating that I felt I wasn't teaching productively,especially the two who need the extension work. I felt like I was wasting time. But it happens and I have re-planned my fridays. I will also do an updated needs chart for when I really would like extra help.

What else happened today? The morning went well. We played a cool game about hiding and I managed to slot in some 'values' education with bringing in the Fair Go area with We wait patiently for our turn. Somehow it's also our health area too but I'm not sure how it is supposed to fit yet. After lunch I got some 1 on 1 time with ummm... lets call her Cinderella (coz otherwise in a few months time I won't have a clue who I was talking about when and that will make it really hard to chart progress). We did some math coloring. The the OT brought my other grade one back... lets call her Little Red Ridinghood, coz she's got red hair like me. And I tried to do some work with her whilst Cinders worked independently. Can't do the same things with her because she doesn't have the same motor control of her hands, so cut and paste and write are not things she can do independently. Have to find some math songs and tapes so she can do it visually and verbally. This is way harder than Bloom's... [non teachery types just ignore that last bit, it's about catering to different learning styles blah, blah...].

Picture of my classroom. It's another from my phone. The yellow bit out the door is the courtyard I can let them loose in! Very handy! Also means I can get fresh air in without worrying that they will escape.

I feel like I have so much I want to get done over the weekend for school, but really don't want to think about it too much! One day I will be committed... yes, probably to a loony bin.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

A a

It's not easy work and I have rather a high stress level. However, I am feeling pretty good. I may get the hang of this and when things work it will be very rewarding (When it doesn't, I will want to bang my head against a wall – but who doesn't have that feeling sometimes in a job? - there have been frustrating moments so far but believing change is possible and this is just a beginning makes things more positive... I'm still not 100% comfortable with the behavioural change I am going to have to find a way of making in these kids but know I need to be firm and trouble shoot before they make me really annoyed – coz that won't work the same as it would on kids 10 years older...). The people I work with are great, lots of humour and concern for each other (and me!), which makes it a nice place to be. The leak in my room has been fixed. High 5 seems pretty cool – although I am assured I will hate it by the end of the year! - even if I can't work out who's who just yet. The parents of the preps seem to be getting a grip, if only they could arrive on time it would be great. It really mucks my timing up when they arrive ½ an hour late.

Today we tried to do some literacy stuff that included colouring in. One of my formerly free range kinder kids wanted to draw on the blank side – no interest in annie apple (guess which letter we are starting with!) and after tearing the paper, getting a few stickers on successfully before boredom set in I discovered it you did it, whilst telling them what you are doing i.e. I'll just colour the tree in green for you... suddenly I get “Can I help?” The very small victories feel pretty good. Little steps, little steps. Computers today was great. Sleeping Beauty who doesn't appear to find much interesting was totally engaged. Another small victory no throwing stuff or wandering and she wasn't even buckled into her chair. The two mentioned in this paragraph surprised me by working well and focussing when there wasn't someone beside them – helping or perhaps distracting them. Interesting.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Free range kinder kids

The day didn't start all that well... I found out via a game of chinese whispers that one of the new mums isn't sure she made the right choice of school for her child. The head of junior school tells me this following – it's not a reflection on you... I understand that intellectually, but it's quite hard not to feel it. It just needs time, but it's hard when she won't let go. It makes it harder for her daughter to adjust too. In the end, it's the parents choice and they have the right to doubts.

The Bob the Builder CD has some really dodgy songs on it, even the owner of the CD, Ms 6, says “This is the silly song.”

I love it when kids look at you as if you are completely out of your mind. One of mine asked at lunch who the person sitting on the mat with the toys outside the other classroom was. I said it looked like someone's Dad, but maybe it was a really big new prep from P2. The look on her face with the reply “I don't think so” was priceless!

The literacy program is coming together, but keeping the attention of one of the newies is very hard. We haven't quite worked out how to get through to her and she needs a lot of work with not pulling off people's glasses and not throwing stuff away if she doesn't want it. And her mum wants her to try proper underpants tomorrow not 'pull ups'... she'll send a couple of changes of clothes, but I'm more worried about how accidents will disrupt the class (and make a mess...). I never expected to know this much about my students – no matter what their age!

We tried out the physical program we planned yesterday, it needs some tweaking but it was good to have the right people in the right places and the kids having virtually one on one attention. Had some problems with my Sleeping Beauty needing a nap part way through but we have decided to let her nap, but only for a short period each time so she doesn't miss out on too much.

The afternoon session my two remaining kids got an extra swim and I got extra APT. I got some stuff done, but there is so much to get going at the start of term and all sorts of crap in my classroom from the previous teacher that I don't know whether it is important or not...

An interesting comment from the other prep teachers was made about the difference between kinder and school. It is very structured at school and the kids have to sit and focus for periods of time. At kinder they mostly just roam around and do what want when they want. It is a big change. I should try to to expect too much too soon and keep in mind that my formerly free range kinder kids may be finding the change not to their liking.

Two of the prep parents say that their kids are loving coming to school. One screams when the bus arrives and was disappointed last Saturday that she wasn't going on the bus to school! The other, despite being very tired and apparently not interested, is happy to come to school and babbles excitedly when she gets home. 4/5 ain't bad and in time we'll get no. 5 settled in.

APT: Approved Planning Time (YAY!)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

How was school today?

I don't feel the need to write much today as I had a great day, full on and tiring, as to be expected, but things seem to be coming together. So, I suppose I should write about why it was good (I wouldn't want this to turn into a whiny blog...).

Time with all my kids this morning went quite well. Many were late again – so another late start – but this time I was prepared for it and had less planned... that doesn't sound how I meant it... I planned to do things that would take a shorter amount of time so we had morning tea at the right time, but it was extendible if we had have had more time. We did a fairly abbreviated morning circle, but that was good as I'll want to keep it as a short but regular start to the day when we have other programs up and running.

One of my kids is doing much better now we get her to walk using her kaye walker when we need her to move from, or between, chairs. She gets more position changes, is less fidgety and easier to transfer, not to mention the benefits to her. At recess I spent some time playing with another of my new students. As I knew I had APT next with the kids going to Music and Library sessions, it was well worth putting off the cup of tea and toilet break to spend some time getting to know her doing something fun. We played ball in the semi open courtyard that our classroom backs onto and one of my kids who is mobile and very self directed came out to play ball with us too. The new girl can throw really well and isn't bad at catching if you prompt about where to position her arms. It was also a nice reminder that even if kids don't talk, they might well be listening very carefully.

Got some more stuff sorted out in the way of paperwork and found some good resources for teaching literacy in some random folders that had been left in the classroom. I just need to find some time to spend a while reading them! I am still getting a lot of help from the teacher who is pregnant. It is great to have her get little things done, like printing and laminating, for me whilst I try to get a grip on the big new concepts.

When I took the parents up to the library to pick up the new preps, one of them was conked out asleep on the carpet. She has been really tired every day and struggling at times to stay awake in class. I might need to get a mat and create a quiet corner for naps when she starts full time. Her mum was a bit worried but I reassured her that even some of the kids in the senior school need a nap sometimes. She was relieved. I guess it makes you feel like your kid isn't the odd one out.

I had yard duty second half of lunch. The playground is being refurbished so I was on duty in the courtyard mentioned previously. It was fun, except when I hit my head on the air conditioner that hangs outside my room and into the courtyard... and the kids laughed at me! I played ball with lots of kids and it was good to get to know some of the others around who are not in my class. It would be better if I had a clue what their names were, but that will take time.

In the afternoon with just the two older students, we had a physical program with the physio. We rode bikes up to a new area I hadn't seen before and played on some swings and stairs and balance things and I got to see the trampoline! It was cool except for the ooky water in the pit underneath it. For the physio it was time she could do some assessment before getting to know the new ones and I was just learning what went on in their department and what cool toys they had!

After school we had a meeting that I had only heard about round 15 minutes before it happened. About 5 minutes before I get a phone call... “Hi, Oh and by the way the meeting is in your room and A, B, C, D, E & F will be there soon.” Oh-Kay... The meeting was actually really good. I felt like I didn't really put much in ideas wise, but managed to help with a few observations about the new students. My class has 2 sessions of physical program paired with another class. We worked out groups for these two sessions and who would help where and what sort of stuff they would be doing. It means we have something to go with tomorrow mid morning and programs are taking shape. My team are all young which is a nice change to hanging out with the teachers who are mostly a lot older than me (except my babysitter – but she's pregnant and leaving!). Methinks it's the therapists who go out for a drink on a Friday arvo too...

Don't expect this much on other good days...
Funny thing is I'm still stressed though. But it took nearly 5 weeks on teaching rounds to feel ok, so, this being the real thing (!), I don't really expect to feel settled 'til part way into term 2. I'm sure I'll be fine by the end of this term but then I'll have 2 weeks off and be nervous starting again.....

Monday, February 06, 2006

Wimming with me?

  • Wimming with me?

Yep! I'm swimming with you.

  • Where your bathers?

Over there, see the bag?

  • What colour?

Are my bathers?

  • Yeah.

Black. What colour are yours?

  • Pink!

One of my better conversations with one of my students. Swimming was excellent!* We both enjoyed it. Unfortunately only one of my kids was able to swim. The other's mum had been sick on Friday and couldn't get her to school and so didn't get the message that swimming was definitely starting this week. She told me she had a fun afternoon colouring, so I didn't feel so bad she had missed out. In the pool we did all sorts of fun stuff and the student I was with was happy and confident in the water. We both had fun and it was a great way to get to know my student better and see them in a different environment – rather than in the classroom or in their wheelchair. And she seems to have learnt my name. That was kind of cool.

Today was really full on but I think I need to realise that most days will be like that with these high needs kids. I'm just hoping that the slight patina of panic will fade from the proceedings eventually. Things didn't go to plan today (not that there was much of one to start with) but I should get used to that too... 9am and I didn't have any students! Some had apparently slept as badly as me the night before and struggled with getting up too. So, we started really late and struggled to get through everything before we needed to start morning tea. Morning tea was late, we kind of missed play, then we didn't know what we were doing for the next session, literacy, so we went out into the courtyard for our own play and eventually got a bit of a plan together... One of the aides who helps out a lot in my classroom wasn't in today because she's in hospital with a broken pelvis! This could make things interesting especially with my two very active preps.

On a positive note, we are getting to know the kids better. Our groupings look like the two older students to further their literacy gains from last year, the two more aware? able? interested? advanced? (it's very difficult to find the right words...) together to start learning the alphabet and writing skills and we will need to get the speechie working with us to work on simple communication and choice making with our other student. She's just not at the same spot and has different needs at this stage. The thing I am finding hardest with this student is the need for discipline. She needs a lot of no! Her mum lets her get away with all sorts of grabbing, throwing, hitting that don't appear to be disability related. It will take some time to find ways of saying no to her and encouraging better behaviour. I guess that's teaching too, but not exactly what I had in mind.

Staff meetings are boring.

* Yes, one of the major reasons I wanted to work at this school was the presence of the swimming pool!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Cyber slacking

Compared to my nerves last week, I think the coming Monday is more daunting than the first one as I now start to understand how much I still have to learn!

I am trying to do some stuff for work (time tables, lesson plan type things – programs) but am procrastinating. At least some things never change.

I feel more sick to the stomach now that I see how much work I have to do and how little of my role I comprehend. It churns in my mind and I find it hard to even find the questions to ask that would help me out of this state. I wish I was better at taking things slowly and letting the knowledge come to me over time, but I want it now. It’s not a helpful attitude but how do you change something that seems to be part of who you are?

Now that I have a little understanding of the procedural arrangements of school, my thinking turns to my actual teaching. What am I doing now, what am I going to do next and why am I doing it? What do my students need and what do I need to teach them to meet this need? What goals do they have? I know some of this will be explored in PSG meetings later in the month and with the team I am working with but I feel I should be moving towards that now. It’s hard to know which way to go when you don’t know where you are going. I’ll leave it there, I think, as more questions aren’t really going to help me at this stage and I’m sure I am starting to sound like a pretentious wanker!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Papercuts and turtles

Had technical difficulties posting this last night.

I got a paper cut today, it was inevitable really considering how much of the stuff I pull out of my pigeon hole each day (Why is it called a pigeon hole? When will I get a pigeon?).

I was so tired yesterday evening but my head was going round in circles (not quite like in the exorcist though!) I even ended up dreaming about school, but as that was the first night it had happened, so I think I've been doing pretty well at stress management. Feel much better tonight, swimming in the morning seems to give me more energy at night – weird. As much as I am glad it is the weekend I kind of don't really want to stop the momentum...

Am trying to cover the important things that happened yesterday, but what seemed important yesterday isn't necessarily what seems important today...

I forgot the roll yesterday again and felt bad coz I got paid... and after a couple of years of part time work it felt like heaps... I'm sure once I feel more justified, I won't think it's enough! I forgot the roll 'til last thing today too and I actually had kids away. One at integration and one didn't arrive. So I had three, which you'd think would be easy..............

Oh, yeah, yesterday... my clingy mum actually left and her daughter was fine. She's a bit timid and close to tears sometimes but communicated a lot more with us both verbally and with signs. The other student who isn't very communicative has started using her voice. Yesterday it was just NO, but today she was saying other things, but not so we could quite make sense of it. It's a great start though and something that the speechies can work on. I was told that my two older students were just as quiet when they started and came out of their shells eventually. It gave me hope that as a team we can make a big difference to these new kids. Seeing the change in one week where we haven't even got programs running, seeing how their comfort in the new environment increases makes me think that their potential is huge. It makes me impatient to understand how the school works and get things running and formalised, but today I learnt that this school has it's own time zone, you just have to relax into it and it's better for the kids if you do (or so the physio running the PD arvo said). The specialists are pretty laid back about getting things running, emphasising getting to know the kids first... but I feel like I should be able to justify what I am doing in terms of teaching. I guess, I can, but it's not what I want to be doing, ad hoc, unstructured lessons but being able to run a session by making it up as I go along is better than time doing nothing. They will get something out of it even if I'm not really sure what I wanted it to be... Maybe at this point I am just learning about them so I can know them well enough to plan properly for their development. I certainly learnt a lot about them today!

I had a session that didn't go to plan and it ended up just me and 3 students, including 2 new preps. The preps haven't learnt how they need to behave at school yet, as it appears to be my job to teach them... it is harder than I had anticipated, but uses the same structures as with other people I guess. Set up expectations of certain behaviours and remind, and remind, and remind again and reinforce with positive feedback. You can't really punish 6 year olds like you do a teenager but at least one of them may be able to understand consequences of actions and learn from it i.e. You throw things you will not get them to hold... but then you have to keep giving them chances to practice or learn it... and so you have to keep picking things up from the floor... One of them has a great trick – asking for a drink then holding her drink bottle upside down and squeezing it all over the floor! I hope we can get her out of that idea of a game soon. I'm not sure I like having to manage discipline with small children. As I may have mentioned previously they need to learn how to sit on a chair and stay there... two of my students are strapped with seat belts into chairs when we are doing work. This made life very interesting for me when I was alone today... the two preps I had today were the grab and throw kind whilst attempting to stop one from tipping her chair whist reaching for something just out of her grasp I turned my back on the other... I turn back... she has upended her chair and is crawling to reach the ball she really wanted – with the chair still attached to her! She looked like a turtle or a little pesky snail! Gave me a bit of a fright!!

So week one has passed without major incident. The head of primary told me about her first day of teaching at school today, it involved a student with a fractured skull, an ambulance and her going home in tears thinking her career as a teacher was over before it had begun... Makes my week seem just peachy!

Had PD on meal assistance and lifting this afternoon, as usual, I was well looked after and my one remaining kid was already organised to go somewhere else for the afternoon. The meal assistance was great with practical exercises to experience swallowing whilst concentrating on it and then try it with some of the limited facial muscle movements that the kids have. Very good at getting the point across. It was hard to stay awake during the talking coz I was tired and starving. I wolfed down my lunch in the short break and it was a lot easier to stay awake in the lifting session. There are trainees in – not sure what, disability something – who were at the session and it was interesting to hear a couple of them... - I hope this finishes on time, we finish at 3.15 and the clock watching and commenting (not even quietly) as the time drew near. They are being paid and that is the level of commitment that they have? I guess it happens in every job, and I have done it in some, but I expected more, maybe because of the nature of the work, but that's not really fair... Dunno. People do things for all sorts of reasons and who am I to judge?

Am going to try not to do too much school stuff this weekend but will feel so much better if I do.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


i wrote it.
i lost it somewhere coz i am too tired now to think straight
i am sulking
i really liked what I wrote
be more careful next time

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Day 3

I am being buried by enough paper to have denuded a small forest so far. Administrivia sux.

I forget the roll and I only have 5 kids!

My room leaks when it rains.

I swam this morning and feel much better this evening, far more energy.

I had too much fun this afternoon for it to have been educational :o)

Classroom management in my brave new world means teaching the kids how to sit on a chair, how to wait their turn, when to speak and when to listen... and I spent 2 years imagining I'd be reinforcing this behaviour in teenagers not actually trying to get it to happen in the first place.