Friday, May 26, 2006
Monday, May 22, 2006
Today wasn't great. I was tense. I swore at innanimate objects in company. I used the f-word after school in front of the head of primary. Thankfully I haven't sworn in front of the kids yet. It wouldn't be so bad if they weren't 6!
I have a busy week ahead and it wasn't a great start.
Speech aide who comes in because I still don't have a speechie was frustrated by Goldilock's usual behaviour. I am with her all day, every day. They are all hard work.
I was chatting to the art teacher this morning about how I'd been feeling over the weekend. She gave me a beautiful reply to the people who comment about teachers and all their holidays - yeah, there are lots of holidays, but in between is teaching.
Teaching ain't easy!
(The kids were good today though... :o)
Sunday, May 21, 2006
The class made the letters in art and we made the dinosaurs in our Hand Program with our OT. You can also see a standing frame and 2 kaye walkers used by some of my students.
I'll shift the yellow to the E on Monday.
Haven't stopped thinking about work all weekend. Have got 2 PowerPoint books almost ready to be printed and put together, a ton of ideas and stuff loaded onto the work laptop ready to get to work when I find a spare minute.
Had a weepy and stressed week. Not a fan of feeling like that. The colleagues I am most comfortable with emotionally Dolly and the temp next door had me in tears before 9 o'clock on Friday. I just managed to hold it together through the day and then they had me in tears again at the pub (I don't want to recount the conversation there, it wasn't helpful and I am not sure how much of it to believe. I need practical solutions not to be told I shouldn't have been put in the situation). I ended up giving the temp a lift home and we talked and talked until 3am! At least compared to the start of my day my shoulder wasn't crunching every time I moved it (that's where I hold most of my tension). Got lots of great ideas and things I want to try.
Saturday I ended up on the phone to a mate, who has also just started teaching this year, for 3 hours... What did we learn? That despite me teaching 6 year olds in special ed and her teaching math science at a secondary school it is the same sh*t in different buckets. The problem appears to be that teaching is a challenge and we are both used to an easy ride. Life has been good to us and we have cruised along feeling confident and competent at school, work, uni - nothing too hard. Teaching is hard. We need time to grow into it, years longer than either of us has the patience to contemplate. Perhaps we are not getting all the help that would be ideal, but we are learning as we go the hard way. We are at different life stages to our colleagues. We feel isolated and unsure of the politics, machinations, loyalties of the people around us. We will both be exploring our options at the end of this year. We are both trying to teach our kids to put their hands up and listen to each other- looks like that is a never ending chore of teaching.
I feel like I have a better perspective on teaching and my place in the experience of it now. I hope this feeling lasts me at least this week with PSG meetings for the preps, reports needing to be done and a visit from Snow White's teacher and integration aide from her other school.
I don't consider myself a poet but I really liked this post over at An Identity of One's Own.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Starting with the fun stuff... dress up day! I was a pirate - those who know me will not be surprised by this. The kids thought it was hilarious! I had 2 faery students, a clown, a witch and a late arrival (after 3 days sick) who became Shrek at short notice. In our literacy session, my OT was a fairy godmother and my literacy support person was another fairy - but much bigger! Helpers I had throughout the day turned into a big Shrek and disguised detectives (there was a trench coat in the dress up box). We went a bit silly and played around with words and new names for ourselves, the clever clown, funny faery, fantastic faery, wicked/wonderful witch etc. We took lots of photo's and we agreed that alliteration and having fun with words were good things to model for the kids... and I'll make a dressing up book that we can read in class and they can take home.
Apparently yesterday Cinderella was quite concerned that I wasn't there to look after them and it looks like I'll never get a day off with approval from the kids! Snow white was a bit unsteady and bewildered by my non appearance too. 2 of them were away and Goldilocks would have called out for me but not been particularly bothered. Sleeping Beauty is unwell, lots of seizures. Mum brought her in for a bit today but didn't really want to come. She had a small seizure in class and recovered ok. Completely off her food, not even throwing it. I sat with her during part of hand program after the seizure, she kept rubbing her head and Mum had mentioned that something was going on there. I stroked that bit of her temple and she calmed down and was no longer focused on touching it but looking around at what the other kids were doing. It was interesting. In the same session Snow White did a lot of independent work but didn't stop where we though her work looked nice and finished, but went on to add some really odd things and cut it in half after mangling it with the scissors and stick white paper over her colouring before she was satisfied. I wish she could tell us what the heck she was thinking.
PD - might save that one til I get around to writing it up for school and VIT assignment.
This morning I got told there was a meeting this afternoon with the head of primary, head of secondary, myself and the principal about the mentoring program. Mostly it was about making sure everyone understood what I was needing to get through the VIT registration process and that those opportunities were being given to me and we were on track. The P said she had assumed that being the heads of departments, those two would take on mentoring duties... but didn't tell them that. B1 and I had already had this discussion but now it is formalised and I have to have someone who has done the mentor training. They asked if I felt it would help if I had a regular time to meet with B1 and that was definitely a yes. I guess you should never expect to get everything you need from one person but it's a pain to have to 'shop' around for the practical and emotion support that I need. I feel a bit bad that I wasn't particularly perky during the meeting. I was there in body, I am just very tired.
p*ssed off paper shuffle dance - Premier's reading challenge, PSG's for preps, PD report, Diaries, Reports - take your pick.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
I feel overwhelmed by the concept of teaching. I doubt my capability to do it properly, or, more accurately, to the standards I set myself. I don't like feeling incompetent on such a regular basis. I know this is supposed to be a learning profession and I don't want to get to the place where I am complacent but I would like to feel proficient, just for one day, where I feel I have the knowledge and resources to do the job as it should be done.
Monday, May 15, 2006
Literacy was interesting this morning. I worked with Cinderella and it was funny how she got all bashful when things were difficult and bored when she could do it. How do you develop a 'can do' attitude in a 6 year old? I felt bad because we spent a bit, what I felt was too much, time planning and discussing ideas. I so wish we had more time in the day to get this sort of thing done without it having an impact on teaching time.
Swimming was good.
Staff meeting was sleep inducing. It would be nice if the speaker would look at the audience and stay on track. It was also too simple. Bored. Want more. Most of the people are tertiary educated - pitch it higher!
The temp teacher in the room next door is having some life issues. I worry about her. It's hard because professionally I really look up to her. Of all the teachers at that school, she is the one I want to 'grow up' to be like. What sets her apart? Perhaps an outsiders perspective on the place we are in; perhaps the way she deals with my questions no matter what their nature - efficient, practical, no bullsh*t; perhaps because she has high standards and similar frustrations that staff who have been in the place for years can just no longer care about. It's hard to articulate at this time of night, actually it wouldn't be easy at any time. She offers me more support than anyone else and she could do with more than she'll let anyone give her. I like her perspectives on the workings of the place and the personalities within. She has a better grasp of school as a workplace and more to compare it to than me. I like it but it feels weird sometimes. She can articulate it and draw the connections I can sense but not see.
Saturday, May 13, 2006
- Poor young thing, you are still so naive.
When will I lose my idealism?
- You won't, but you will become realistic.
Structure or Spontaneity?
This week I have been frustrated by the lack of structure in my math lessons and the ad hoc nature of my teaching – that's a nice way of putting the feeling that I am lurching from one disaster to another. Being from a science nerd background (and a Virgo), I like structure. It gives me comfort and I have an underlying sense that this is what I should have to be a successful teacher.
This has been a thought that has been nagging me all week but only today have I had the head space to nut it out. I have been scrounging math resources and ideas all week but struggling to decide how to put them together in a sequence. I bounce from time to space to number concepts depending on the situation and interest (ok, and behaviour) of the kids. Then this morning I read an article about an 'innovative' way of teaching preps that pretty much goes with the flow of interest. So, I'm thinking what is the point of what I'm
doing erm, teaching? My kids may not end up rocket surgeons but they may be able to... really, I don't want to place any limits on where or what they might end up doing – the point I'm trying to make is that I do have to think about now.
They are 6! Learning has to be related and fun. One of the things I loved about the way they taught at this school was the integrated nature of the learning and here I am trying to compartmentalise it to fit some idea of what teaching should be! I think I will collate resources into areas: measurement/growth, space, time, number/counting activities, money, shapes, etc. and then try to apply them to things we do and structure our math sessions around stuff I can link... probably to literacy topics.
Finish making our own number 4 & 5 next week.
E: elephants, enormous > bigger, smaller, same – trace ourselves?
F: fish (we are going on an excursion to buy a class pet!) number, size of fish, volume of water – more or less?
G: growing, measure grass heads growth, measure height. Graph!
H: haircuts for our grass and measure again – how much cut off? Hair colour graph, who has the longest hair?
Cinderella behaved well yesterday. I gave her achievable stuff to do and she worked by herself and was rewarded by doing some math on the computer. She didn't whine much but I was still ready for the week to be over at lunchtime. Sleeping Beauty is doing an sneering Elvis impression regularly and delivered a brain curdling scream of defiance/frustration at us today - ouch. We went swimming after lunch. With only 2 students in the pool we got some hard work done and a bit of fun... and I relaxed.
Left for Friday drinks/debrief and found the person who I was looking for at admin. Our nurse, who I am becoming friends with, was talking with the principal.
Nurse:- Are you behaving yourself?
Me:- Me? Never! (Look at Principal) – except when the Principal is looking (put on innocent face).
Principal: (Laughs and seems to day pointedly) Not even when the Principal is looking.
Could be my perception, but I now wonder if that comment had anything to do with anything I said or did at the primary school dinner? Too late now, eh? If they don't like me they don't have to hire me again next year.
Have found a heap of new education blogs, and a stack of Aussie ones that I will add to reading list when I can be bothered tackling the Html.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Had a good chat with my 'team'. My OT and physio are thinking the same way as me but none of us really have the experience to do anything but experiment for possible solutions. I guess this is what everyone does, but I reckon we'd get there faster with a few more years experience between us. Perhaps that's the point, we learn together. At least they are trained in their fields, I feel I am the one most lacking.
Helped out Dolly with a computer problem. Her formatting was up the creek and she wanted me to help. In the end it was just the page margins that needed adjusting to make the documentfit the page like the original she had. Relatively simple but it really highlights the difference in my comfort with computers compared with most of the teachers I work with. I wonder if this would be different in a school where the kids are capable of using the technology maybe they would drag the teachers up with them.
At the end of today I went to chat with B1 & B2 about my problem with Cinderella and the ohters. I put it honestly, that it pisses me off and when I am tired, sick and grumpy I snap at them and I want to deal with it in a different way. I'm not sure B1 is used to either the way I use language or what I am prepared to be honest about - my failings. She seemed taken a little aback and it was her that replyed that that was a very honest way of putting it. I like her use of 'honest' when I seem to have shocked her a bit. They gave me some different strategies, suggestions and things they did last year. I am still perplexed at the way B1 reacts to me. Maybe I'm too out there for her. I dunno. I won't be anyone but myself, ever. Not doing.
At the PD I went to the other week he suggested we have a telos (brief statement of purpose) - or in my words cheesy quote - to define the important stuff for time management - or sorting out the important stuff... So, I put one up in my room. The kids noticed, so I explained it to them. and in my PD evaluation where they ask what you will implement after the PD, I said that's what I'd do. So this is the quote:
but it is the journey that matters in the end."
Ursula K. Le Guin
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Only had one group through. The kids all said hello and then I was able to get their attention back with a new D game - dress ups! That was actually quite fun and I am looking forward to seeing the photo's.
By the afternoon I was sick of them. I am crook and my tolerance is low. It is hard enough in that class to make it work when there aren't enough hands but I can't be doing with whining! Can't is not a word I want to hear. 'I need help' is fine but don't whine 'I can't' at me. Cinderella had tasks that were within her capability but she wouldn't work at them, and complained she couldn't do them. She didn't try. It really pissed me off a) because she is the one I need to able to work independently and b) because I don't want to encourage learned helplessness - especially not from disabled kids.
I spoke to the teacher next door and she advised me to cut down on the academic challenge in those sessions and work on the persistence and resilience if that was what I really wanted. She told me to worry less and take it easy so I can take a step back and see how far they have come since they started. She seemed to think I needed more structured time with a mentor and she would but she is paid poorly enough for her time and energy anyhow being a short term replacement teacher. She is someone I really like and respect I will miss her a lot when her time here is up.
I need parenting skills. I don't understand 6 year olds and where they are at in life. I can't just teach them things, I need to grow them up too - I really can't think a grammatically decent way of putting that thought, sorry, past my bed time.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Talked to B1 about not really lesson planning and she didn't seem to think it was something I should be worried about with my group and at this stage.
Got my reports back from the principal with a couple of grammatical changes to make. All fine with me. I think I am getting more comfortable with her now.
Had half the day to get stuff done but am a bit apprehensive about open day tomorrow. I had a visitor principal and some bloke who shook my hand... (weird) this afternoon when we were just calming down from physical program and waiting to go home. Not the best bit of the day to see. We weren't really doing much. I might need to clean up a bit when I get in tomorrow, but hopefully they won't be looking at my desk...
Monday, May 08, 2006
I didn't swim today. I had less kids and there were enough helpers to give me the arvo off. I was kind of fizzing today. Had lots of things I felt really needed to be done, but it really depleted my energy to do any of it. I brought stuff home but I won't do any.
This morning I started with two kids and it was really interesting to see the interplay between Goldilocks and Cinderella. Goldilocks was really settled as she was getting lots of attention and Cinderella was a lot nicer to her than usual. Sleeping Beauty arrived and it was harder to keep a lid on things. Snow White arrived at morning tea.
Handed my draft 'reports' in to the principal and asked if I could hand them in on a memory stick at mid year or whenever I was going to be compelled to waste a lot of trees next. She said that was fine and that she needed to be dragged into modern technology. We chatted about it and she was fine if I was the only one doing it that way. Dolly told me that I shouldn't do that as the principal would want them all to do it that way, but I think she know what the teachers here are like.
Showed the teacher in the room next door my CRT folder. She has done lots of emergency teaching and thought it sounded ok. I looked at some of her math stuff and felt really bad that I don't write lesson plans. I just wing it all the time and have it in my head. The problem is that I have to improvise depending on how the kids react. I have no direction, no forward planning. Just one thing at a time. It makes me feel like an inadequate teacher, no matter how great a job people tell me I'm doing.
I gotta go to bed.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
I am definitely unwell. At least it has prompted me to finally finish off the information that I need to prepare in case I need a day off.
The important stuff - how my students communicate and eat; and the less important stuff - when I have yard duty, what administrivia needs to be filled in etc.
Friday night I went to bed at 9.30 and slept for 12 hours. Not a good sign, nor is the yellow mucous...
The question I'm left pondering goes kind of like this (my brain isn't running at 100%, forgive me if this verges on the incoherent) Â when is it morally right to take a day off? I like my job, I don't need mental health days yet. They come to school sick and give me their germs, at what point to I accept that I can't do my job or worry that I will give them something? Soldiering on? When does self sacrifice become stupid? I assume I get 15 sick days for good reason. I know when I am incapable of doing the job, but what about when I'm just not doing so well? I guess if I sound too bad tomorrow the other teachers will mother/bully me into taking a day off. I can't have Wednesday off as it's open day. I need to be feeling OK to be able to deal with that.
I think it may be time to put on a pot of soup.
It's kind of weird that now I feel really crook I have the motivation to nest and do my dishes and clean up a bit.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Cinderella did some great stuff on the computer with our literacy support person, unfortunately Cinderella is better on the computer than her helper and whilst she managed to change the colour of the text they wanted to use, she forgot to activate it. Her helper thought it was just an old computer and it would print in pink... It's interesting that you need someone competent in the skills to get you to the point of problem solving. Everybody learnt something though.
Very tired today after only a moderately late night out for a school dinner. It was ok, but I may have been myself a bit too much...
Had a few good laughs with various people. Tired and flippant is the general excuse... B1 made a gorgeous lemon and cream sponge and I got offered some for afternoon tea after I'd gone in to ask B1 & B2 yet another hundred questions. They had a good laugh at me later when I was putting up some letters my students had made in art in front of our classroom. A, B, C, and D were already there and I added F and E in that order... Oops! Lucky I'm going to do some literacy training soon!
I found a picture I had taken close to the start of the year and it was amazing how blank the walls of the classroom were. B1 & B2 said it showed how much work I'd done. I guess, in a way, it does. It felt good to see the change and to have the classroom constantly evolving.
Ideas for math that I didn't get around to writing down anywhere:
Graphing, grouping, counting - eye colour, hair colour, glasses etc
Outlines of bodies and measuring height in cms, bricks, pieces of string, ducks etc.
Graph tallest, measure other things to compare?
Snakes and ladders group game.
Money concepts to think about.
Mmm... Indian take away dinner at the old's place tonight. Yummo!
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
This morning the head of primary tells me that really need to remove the long strip of masking tape that my physio put down the corridor to improve my kid's mobility. I'm like, um, why?
Well, the tape that was put down at easter seems to have left marks as it took the polish off the parketry*. So if you take this off now it will be ok.
- but the floor is crap anyway, why does it matter?
We need it to look good for open day.
- what's wrong with having tape on the floor?
I'll help you take it off. Look it's peeling bits off already.
- Ms X has had hopscotch longer than the easter things were there...
That will have to go too.
-but won't it look better if it stays? Can I paint one on?
No deal. I wander off in disgust at the direction of this conversation. but I must have rattled her cage enough to get her to head up to admin for a second opinion...
Yes, the floor isn't perfect. When they repaint outside they can do a line there.
So, I bitched to everyone, made my physio take it off (and took a lot of the surface off so we can probably walk a line without it now - he he he... bitter laughter), and brought it up when I was chatting to the psychologist this arvo. I'm still not sure how to deal with what I felt like was the head of primary being emotionally dishonest with me. It just made me really angry that the floor came before the learning of my kids and there wasn't even a logical response. Just I'll get an agreementr from higher that it has to come off.
After school I went and chatted with one of the APs. I had calmed down and thought of my own solution. so asked her if she knew where I could get that vinyl stuff that sticks with static electricity because... blah, blah, had to take it off and now it looks worse than if I'd left it on... (she laughed at that!) and the floor is pox anyhow (nods). Then we thought about paint and it looked like if everyone agreed, we could get it done, but then the issue of polishing it off became problematic... so we emailed the sign writer who had just done some stuff for us to see if he could help us out or point us in the right direction. If this doesn't pan out we'll take another look at painting in a way that will stick...
An interesting day. An emotional journey. May even have achieved something.
*stupid flooring for any school!
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Snow White is still away. Some kids will be sent in with nasty coughs and and snotty, grotty noses but I suspect that Mum wont let her precious baby out with even a hint of a sneeze. Sleeping Beauty is still on half days but doing ok with that as she has a lot of stuff happening at home with the moving house and renovations.
B1, my official mentor, pointed me in the direction of a PD this morning that is designed for people who haven't taught literacy before. It looked kind of interesting so I started filling in the forms. In her sales pitch she made me feel a bit more confident about my future at this school. It sounds like they aren't too keen on the idea of having to let me go. Yay!
I have a math lesson with Cinderella and it doesn't go as well as I had hoped. I guess I shouldn't expect her to get the idea in one go no matter how much quicker than the rest of the kids she is. More quarters. More relation to clocks. Counting minutes too...
I have my time release, including the extra I'm supposed to get, and finish the forms. As I'm taking them up the front ...I realise that the date for the first one is on our open day. I get the reaction I expected - not likely. ...You have a very junior class and they all like to bring family in... ...Who would put a PD in education week? ...Email them and see if they are running it on another date...
Disappointment turns to guilty happiness... I check my email and find out that there are 2 extra dates, still on Wednesdays! I really don't like Wednesdays much. I will feel bad leaving the little monsters with a CRT but it will be a nice break to the week... perhaps.
Oh, and my extra swim on the Friday is coming together. I can fit 3 in for the rest of this term and then keep going. YAY!
Monday, May 01, 2006
So this isn't so much about my day today but my thoughts for blogging against disablism day...
The children I teach in my class are all 'disabled'. What does this mean for them? What does it mean for me? I need to teach them the things that will make them able to access mainsteam society and be socially acceptable in it. We can work on their physical capabilities and the behaviour and manners, but can anything we do in a school be enough to create the change that is really necessary.
I am at the point of thinking carefully about separate special schools, integration with mainstream schools and, the 'pinnacle', inclusion. Special schools and integration processes both have their good and bad points but where do we start in creating an inclusive school system, or better yet, society. For me, inclusion is a school/society where it doesn't matter what means you use to gain access to your environment (including people) they are acceptable and available. The dream where everybody is able to see past the wheelchair, the frame and flapping hands, the electronic communication devices and signs, the slurred speech or uncontrollable movements and get to know the amazing people who are more than their diagnosis.
There is a lot about being the parent of a disabled child that I don't understand. The guilt, the greif, the pain that makes you let them get away with anything and everything that any other kid would be in serious trouble for. That makes my life as a teacher hard and it is very wearing maintaining the consistency of discipline that they need.
I also can never understand what it is like for them. The frustration and anger as they realise they are different and the world is not set up to make it easy for them. I want to thank the people with disabilities who blog and give me an insight into the future for my 6 year old students. It may be a bit early to start them blogging though...