Saturday, February 21, 2015

Oh Boy!

Oh my! Oh boy! So, after a week of no school (thanks to President's Day combined with lots of snow) I think I've forgotten what my students look like. . . Just to remember what I do for a living, and to avoid cabin fever, I thought I would take a second to reflect on my favorite times this year so far.

As I have a classroom full of boys, I have had to tackle and quickly learn the world of cars, Minecraft, BeyBlades, TechDecks, and Pokemon (totally had ZERO idea that Pokemon still existed)! I have also had the pleasure being a part of some very funny difficult confusing interesting conversations. Many of which have left me either speechless, cracking up, or shaking my head saying "Oh boy!" (sometimes all three!). Some laughable tidbits:

All of my students at one point or another: "Ariana Grande is soooooooooooo beautiful!"

Student A: "I'm not getting a job when I'm older- that's what I'll have a girlfriend for".

Student B: "Miss. Lindsay, I am pretty sure you forgot to brush your hair today. You must have overslept".

Student A: "Do you shave your legs? I do not want a hairy teacher".

Student A: "Miss. Lindsay, can you do that thing where you close one eye and keep the other open?"
Me: "Winking? Why, are you trying to learn so you can wink at girls?"
Student A: Oh NO! I am not that kind of guy!"
Student D: "I AM!!!!"

(As I am putting chapstick on)
Student A: "Miss. Lindsay, what is that?"
Me: "Chapstick. Because my lips are dry. Don't you use chapstick?"
Student A: "I don't need to. I shower."

Student A: "Miss. Lindsay, what's a virgin?"
Me: . . . silence. "Umm, uh, ummm, well. . . Let's go ask Mr. James!" (the school counselor)

Oh these kids never leave me with a boring day. On Friday (over a week ago. . . or month. . . or year- THE SNOW HAS GONE TO MY HEAD!) as the school week was winding down, I sat in my classroom with my students watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (since we couldn't have recess outside), singing, drawing, and just basking in the calm that I had helped create for the day. It's rare when these moments happen. Even rarer when I have enough time to sit down and think about how lucky I am to have this opportunity. To be something to these kids. Because they will probably never even know just how much they have changed me forever in such a short amount of time.

May sunbeams (and snowflakes) find you!


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Please Snow- I am a Teacher!

Holy snow! While we didn't get a blizzard, we got enough snow to have THREE days off of school!!! And being in Virginia: snow=no school.  Although I am liking this unexpected vacation, special needs students really do like their routine and consistency. The weather, however, does not seem to understand this. As much as I am liking living in leggings, cozied up on the couch with hot chocolate, and watching Food Network, I am mentally preparing myself for the next day back to school. Preparing myself because for kids who really do not respond well to changes (cue: Speech Day Meltdowns).

I am preparing myself for either: 

1) Cabin fever boredom- meaning they have been so bored at home these past six days they are so excited to be back learning will be a welcome change; or 

2) Can't Stop Won't Stop the Non-learning- meaning they had a lot of fun over the break (playing video games I'm guessing) and if I try to teach them anything, I am going to be met with resistance. A LOT of resistence. 

We shall see! It could be either! I'm preparing lessons that were meant for Tuesday of this week filled with a "Beginning of the Week" style plan. Which means WAAAAAAY overly planned lessons that most likely were to overlap onto the next day/week/two weeks. That's if they are in the mood to learn.  . . I am also planning "Solar System Jeopardy", "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Uno", "Time Bingo", and "Junior Monopoly". For some reason regardless of the content I am trying to teach or review, they have no idea they are learning if I put it in a game. MWA-HA-HA-HA-HA. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Whew! It's Friday! The Friday of a three day long weekend on top of that! Woo hoo! Happy Dance! Chitty Chitty Bang Bang! (It will not get out of my head). . . I think I've expressed it correctly but to be clear, this teacher is really excited it is Friday! It was just an odd week. I felt like everyone was a little off. It wasn't a bad week by any means just a little different. Still. . . I am glad it is Friday!

Every day, I try to write something down that made me laugh. I will compile them all some day, but for know they are post-its or scribbles in my calendar. This week, one of these comments really got to me. Being able to determine what my student know varies based on the day, hour, and minute. Some times they know everything (really! The things these students can recall astounds me!) and other times. . . not so much. I was asking one of my students what they knew about energy. I asked if he has ever heard of the word "kinetic". He said "No". I asked if the word "potential" sounded familiar. Without even pausing he said, "Potential. . . what a beautiful word!". He has no idea what it means, he just liked how it sounded. This in itself was just beautiful to me because without even knowing the meaning of the word, he appreciated it.

Potential is the word that comes to mind every time I think of my students. Not in the sappy, big dreams sort of way, but in their everyday actions. They all have SO much potential. From academic things like being able to tell the time, to remember the order of the planets, to be able to write a poem, to edit their own work and get their ideas on paper. Potential for mastering functional skills like not having a meltdown when they have to stop their "screen time", or saying "I want to kill myself" when they get a question wrong when we're playing jeopardy. Potential is a beautiful word that is endless. Every time we're in the middle of a meltdown or a tantrum I have to remind myself that this is opportunity for improvement. This is something we can work on! There is potential and room for so much growth!

Even on the oddest/off-est of weeks, there is potential! There is always potential.
(But I am still glad it is Friday :) )

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Another Unexpected Special Education Discovery!

Day to day, week to week, I am discovering so many things I was not expecting. I knew getting into this field that this would be the case but the differences I am finding still make me shake my head and ask (or cry) "Why?". Recently it is the unkindness I have been experiencing in my classroom. I have implemented the "Caught You Being Kind" Jar, in which every time I see a random act of kindness I add a marble. When the jar is full, we earn a movie and Ice-Cream. As simple and "old-school" as this may be, it has been working. . . with CONSTANT reminders and reinforcements. Is it too much to ask my students just be kind to one another without me rewarding them?! The short answer. . . YES! Right now, that is too much to ask.

In my graduate classes we went over numerous times spreading acceptance and embracing the differences in our special needs students. We learned different things to say and do to other students within the school to help educate the general education students and make them aware of various disabilities. It is difficult being in a special needs school, as it is not educating individuals without disabilities, it is educating students with their own disabilities about other disabilities. I always thought in this environment maybe students would feel like a team and avoid making fun of one another and making inappropriate comments. But that is not the case. It happens here too. We are trying to enforce empathy and understanding in our students in relation to their peers. Some days I am so happy when I see a positive interaction between two individuals that was not happening before. Other days, it feels like I am walking up a down escalator. It’s a challenge, but my goal is for  all students, regardless of their disability, to have respect and empathy for those around them. But most importantly for them to just be nice! 

A jar, marbles, and ice cream party are not going to make my students kind consistently over night, but the tiny bits of progress I am seeing are enough to make me realize it is possible. 

Next adventure: Interrupting!