Saturday, February 06, 2010

With 22 inches of snow .... and more continuing to fall... there is a good chance we won't be going to school again on Monday. When on Thursday afternoon the county closed school a full 18 hours before the snow even began to fall, we knew we were in for a doozie.

I have to lament that learning is being disrupted; with a break in continuity comes an increase in kids' frustration and inappropriate frustration response. That is... we can expect lots more acting out behavior when we finally do get back to school. Lovely.

Here's where experience helps. I've learned that on that first day back, plan to review content that the students' already have a good handle on. Plan active learning, game time, and class favorites. Still, stick with the tried-and-true schedule. Re-establish the familiar as quickly as possible.

As I listen to the news updates, I wonder if we'll even be back to school on Tuesday.

How many on-demand movies can I make myself watch? How long will the food in the fridge last? When will my hubby and I get sick of this intense "alone time"?

Thank God for good books, hot tea, and the company of my sweet dog Cayenne.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Organized for a better tomorrow....??

I spent 45 minutes today looking for a flashdrive so I can revisit a project the staff put together a few years ago. I found the darn thing... but 45 minutes of my life was wasted. I guess I should wish I was more organized. Or wish that I had kept a paper copy in an easily accessible place.

The idea of a paperless society scares me.... And this writer sees more of a down-side than I ever considered.

I often feel inundated by stacks of paper that sit on my desk and in my file folders. It's the culmination of 2 or 3 grades/curriculum for my mixed age and ability class. The good news is that I can usually put my hand on what I am looking for in just a minute or two. But I have to find a better way.

Until then, I'll dream of a time that my desk is fully functional and my time is never wasted. I'll reward myself for taking the time to weed out and sort through it all. I'll mentally tie the organized workspace to better teaching, thereby making it seem more worth my while.

Now, where did I put my TO-DO list????

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Closing doors. Opening hearts.

There's the gentle click of my classroom door closing. Our work continues, the children intent on the pattern shapes on the table in front of them. Timmy breathes a sigh of relief, and looks up to catch my eye. He almost smiles.

With the closing of the classroom door, the angry yelling sounds coming from the crisis room are muffled. It's suddently much easier to concentrate. It's not just that the discomforting noise is lessened. It's also that when someone out in the hallway takes the time to unobtrusively close doors, they honor those kids who are doing the right thing. We are, after all, a place for learning and teaching.

Living the school day in a program for children with emotional disabilities means that, of course, we will be hearing some rageful shouts, anguished tears, even loud, inappropriate laughter. But when children come to learn that they are accepted and valued even if their behavior falls short of expectations, they also learn the value of empathy, not judgment, for their peers. They learn that loud and angry or sad are feelings that their teachers and counselors are ready to help them with. It may be upsetting to hear the noise, but most of our students trust that the situation is under control and will be worked out safely.

And that can be a very big relief.

Monday, January 04, 2010

The Power of a New Start...

It's 22 degrees outside, and half the building is toasty warm, and the other half is only a hair above 50 degrees. Bleary-eyed, smiling, and even - dare I say- chipper, my colleagues meet this morning just before the kids' arrival in order to update each other on any pressing matters:

Who got what for Xmas?

Who traveled and who got snowed in?

We discuss who was getting a new kid--me.

Any behavior plans need reviewing?

Who already needs a nap?

As the kids arrive, their calls to each other are almost gleeful, their smiles, contagious. I am exactly where I want to be.

Happy New Year.