Thursday, December 22, 2005

All I Want For Xmas Is....

a good, uninterrupted 2 hour afternoon nap!! Heaven on earth!

Highlights of the week:

Making gingerbread houses with the kids.... milk cartons, graham crackers, and lots and lots of icing and candies!

Seeing the Polar Express with all the kids in our program. I still hear the bell?
Do you?

Dodging a metal chair as it soared through the air at me. The second time I wasn't as quick to move, and the welt/bruise on my arm is tender... but it's bright red color is quite festive!

Seeing one of my IA's face beam when she opened her Xmas gift from me: a blue faux croco leather watch. She never knows when to come in from outside recess, and now that problem is solved!!

Reading aloud the Twelve Days of Christmas, Arthur's Christmas, The Polar Express, and the Nutcracker Ballet to my tradition-starved class. We whisper/sang carols in the lunchroom today, and hummed JingleBells in line on the way back to the classroom!! Very subversive.

Exchanging sweets, pretty cards, and lovely sentiments with my dear friends and colleagues. It is a great time to show appreciation for everyone's support.

Joking around with the kids that I'll see them NEXT YEAR!!!

Finally, counting my blessings, one of which is the opportunity to blog and "meet" other bloggsers. Thank YOU blogging friends!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Considering all I should be grateful for....

....Why am I not looking forward to tomorrow or the rest of the week ?

Well, there's that bruising, annoying cough thats dogged me for 3 weeks now...

My equally annoying, but also adorable adult son who now lives in our basement and goes to grad school.....

The prospect of keeping 7 Christmas-crazed ED kids calm for the next 4 days before Winter Break....

The challenge of finishing up all the shopping, all the food prep and planning, all the cleaning and organizing and packing associated with said Winter Break.....

The promise of weight gain, a migraine or two, and the depression that follows getting into a bathing suit (needed for the aforementioned Winter Break).....

The reality of 2 and a half days in a car with my hubby, my daughter, (heretofore referred to as Hokie because she has just gotten accepted, EARLY DECISION, to VaTech!!),also my annoying/adorable son and his girlfriend.... and my husband's IPOD song list.... do we have to hear Toby Keith AGAIN?!!?

Enough complaining for one night. It's time to chill in front of the TV with the hosts of QVC lulling me toward coma-like relaxation... then off to bed.

Good night all!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Loving the Free Exchange of Ideas.....

Check out the most recent Carnival of Education here!!

The Education Wonks have done it again. And of course, the contributors are key to the Carnival's success! So many interesting and provocative ideas out there in the edusphere! Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Characteristics of an Effective ED Teacher.... continued

After a long break, I return to my late summer round up of ideas about teaching emotionally disabled children. You can check out the original list here, and subsequent postings, here and here... also, here

6. I enjoy interacting with students. My students sense my enjoyment.

It’s not enough that I like children. It’s not enough that I consider myself the proverbial “people person”. Working with kids is my mission in life, and I can’t think of anything more satisfying than the day-in day-out, shoulder to shoulder work I do with them.
But that alone is not enough.

It only counts if the children KNOW I enjoy working with them. It only matters if they get it that they are my first priority, the reason I’m in this business at all. Frankly, if they leave my class unsure of my interest in their achievement, be it academic or personal, I haven’t done my job.

While this is true of students in general, emotionally fragile children are all the more sensitive to the moods and views of a distant or uninterested teacher. Without the compensatory skills needed to negotiate other’s agendas, emotionally disabled students are likely to shut down or act up sooner, longer, and more intensely. ED students misread and make personal any negativity or lack of engagement.

When we wear our hearts on our sleeves, when it’s obvious to everyone around us that this is where we want to be, where we are meant to be, we’re smoothing our students’ path to achievement.

Let’s see. Care enough to notice what interests them. Ask about kids’ ideas, and listen….really listen to their answers. Smile. A lot. Frown too. Show disappointment and displeasure as a byproduct of passion and commitment. Have expectations; help kids meet them. Illuminate the way out, around and through hurdles. Take kids by the hand (figuratively or literally, depending on their age), and pronounce for all to hear that kids and their learning is your priority! Live each day true to that pronouncement.

Whew, that feels good!!

Monday, December 12, 2005

We miss you Ms. V

On a day like today, when one of the teachers in our room is absent, there is certainly potential for chaos and complaining! With fewer grownups available to meet the needs of these neediest kids, it’s sure to be an EXCEDRIN HEADACHE #14 kind of day.

Moreover, with less adult attention at the ready, academics often take a backseat to behavior management.

But today, despite missing Ms. V, the kids managed well, and we, the two other adults, were busy but not bonkers. The reasons, I am convinced, are the time and attention we have put into establishing and maintaining our classroom rules and routines. Despite the stark change left by an absent and well loved teacher, the kids (for the most part) were able to hold onto the security of our schedule, the consistency of our behavior support program, and the reliability of those teachers who were present.

There were glitches in the day. Right from the start, one of the girls complained of a sore throat and headache, but because of the absence of fever, no call home could be made. She spent much of the day on the bean bag, restless, whining, and generally uncooperative. (Poor thing, by the very end of the day her fever finally spiked… but too late for an early pickup.)

Our crisis counselor was absent too, (tis’ the season), and her sub isn’t a group favorite. Another change during a day of too much change….

Another one of our sweet things arrived at school all bluster and “bad-ass”. One on one required.

Our autistic student withdrew into a quiet, isolating shell. Although it made for an easier morning, it’s not best practice to let it go. We did let it go because of our staffing shortage. The good news is that we caught him up with his morning assignments by lunchtime.

Still, I choose to concentrate on the good stuff:

Lots of hugs!
Our littlest “pistol” actually went to the cafeteria with the group and behaved well!! A true accomplishment.
At least 2 tantrums appeared to be headed off…. These kids responded to our cueing and emotional supports so that they TALKED rather than exploded.

Yep,good stuff. But I sure will be glad to see Ms. V. tomorrow morn!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Tough? I wonder.

Looking back, I see I haven't blogged since end of November.... so I guess I'm not so tough after all. Truly tough blogger/teachers don't let anything get in the way of frequent, thoughtful reflection. Hurrummph.

Seriously, I have a mammoth cold, the kind of cough that rattles the brain. Every free minute is spent sleeping.

Or shopping online for xmas gifts.

My little first grade girl asked me the other day if I could be sure and buy a Christmas present for everyone in the class.
"That way we'll be sure to have at least one present."

So sad, yes. But she is one wise little girl. It was our plan all along anyway.

We are in the throws of our study of Native Americans, a really fun unit that helps the children to contrast and compare several tribes, and also tribal life compared to their own lives. I love this kind of learning; these little kids show glimmers of deep thinking and enthusiasm for learning for learning's sake. Very powerful stuff.

This is the second year where the children will be using picture cards to set up data charts as a means for showing basic contrast and compare skills. Last year I spent hours creating these cool picture cards, mounted them on colored stock paper and then laminated them. And (of course) this year, our county has provided pre-made, even cooler picture cards, ready to use in just a matter of minutes.

Just my luck.

Another coughing fit. Time to stop. Must find the Nyquil.