Sunday, October 02, 2011

Reflections on the New Year (ironically on Rosh Hashanah)

September 2011 – [Year 2]

17 days in and I still can’t believe it. My little friends from last year come by everyday to say hello – causing a slight identity crisis for me and my current students (they use my  maiden name …). My 16 little ones this year  are – well – full of character of course. I lost 1 already, a child with severe autism, an amazing memory, and a mind of her own. Though she was adorable and sweet at times it is a relief – suddenly on Thursday I was able to teach and my para could pull students. Perhaps I should evaluate my approach – if I didn’t have my para and she had to be a one on one what would I do?
The plane is 35,000 feat above farmlands – the sun is blinding and the refreshment of having been home is wonderful. But I recognize the weight of tomorrow in my neck and shoulders and simultaneously am sorry my students don’t have the opportunity to cross the country for a weekend. I am fortunate! I need to look for ways to give them experience without travel.
Here’s who I am thinking about…..

T-from last year, the sparkle in his eye has faded, he is going through the motions of school and is not loving it. He keeps talking about “his classroom” and “his teacher” ad when can he “go back.” It breaks my heart – he can’t possibly think I don’t want him! I take every opportunity I get to check in and to give him a hug and let him know I love him…. I miss him I miss the drive he gave me to give him my all.

This year’s kids – today a few come to mind:
TJ – a troubled little guy with a BIG heart and sweet spirit. He always wants to help me. He decides when he feels like being a learner but frequently decides he will sit and idly scratch or tap with the pencil. Lives with grandma, has no contact with parents but she is wonderful.

CB – a difficult girl, very much like my JD of last year – refuses to do what she should and stubbornly looks at you with her mouth open and tongue hanging out. I have already made it clear to her that I’m not patient and I need to change this.

SW – a loud, busy, and inattentive boy from Jamaica who frequently has long sentences of words I do not understand and with grammatical structures such as “Me have….” “Me go” “Me mom…” and I correct him repeatedly. I have discovered that he cannot sit still so I taught him this week to just wiggle his feet. His mom thinks he’s brilliantly above kindergarten learning – news flash? He is not.

J2 – a DOLL with a quirky grin, a sidewise glance, and a cheery “yep!” anytime you ask him a question. He is on the autism spectrum – but very capable of sitting and listening – just not comprehending, I worry that I will forget about reaching him where he is at – I need to conscientiously work with him at things. He loves “msdfjksjflkjs mommy daddy pizza” and every time we ask open-ended questions, that is his response.

J1 – a feisty, curly-headed little boy who tests me minute by minute throughout the day. On one occasion he repeated every word that came out of my mouth during reader’s workshop …. And when I asked him to stop? He whispered the words under his breath. There have been times when he was bothering his friends’ learning and I had to get in his face to correct the behavior – in response he plugged his little ears and squished his eyes up tight….nice. It’s a really really good thing he is so cute…because it is REALLY hard to not pick him up by his shoulders and shake him! His mom is wonderful and has volunteered to come in sometimes

CJ – a difficult, shy, and rough boy – hard to read but he frequently chooses to not listen even though I know he is capable … need to work on knowing him better.

D – what a funny guy. At times he is studious, on task, handsome, controlled, and ready to go. At other times his focus gives way to rambunctious swinging between tables, scattered running, skipping, sliding across the room, careless attention, mean words, and constant babble. I think he will do fine …. He needs some scaffolding.

I – haha well, this is a kid who is cute but frequently when I glance at him on the rug, his eyelids are inside out and he is sitting staring right back at me. Really? Freak? Then when they’re not inside out, he is cross eyed – on purpose. It’s hard to not laugh. I told him his eyes would get stuck that way. Problem is, his mom warned me that his brother has told him how awful school is and she is worried about him feeling that way…. Lots of pressure. But I still have to tell him what to do sometimes, and I do have to ask him to stop distracting his friends or rocking on the rug.

WORD WALL – yes I am thinking about my kid-height word wall, my attempt to create an interactive experience for my learners and to actually use it….but neglected to think that they might lean on it with their freshly oiled little heads. Result? A grease stain about 2 ft from the bottom. Hmm.

Bookshop – I am amazed by my little “readers” and the 15 minutes they have been able to sustain browsing alone and with friends…’s pretty impressive. This week I will push it to 20 minutes …. And introduce computers.

My class is all 4 years old again – they are predominantly below level – again – and with a few exceptions, do not know letters or concepts about print. This week I will find out their math abilities. I am almost done with DRA – and they are all below A so far. I did kind of ask for it….

side note just stretched and discovered the tiny little sparkles my ring throws on the wall of the plane – became very amused and it struck me that my kids would probably do the same thing

Those are the kids that come to mind – those and the ones from last year that come in EVERY DAY – Miranda, Katrina, Tashaya, Terence – little voices and faces from the door that make me smile and remember – YES I love this and they love me! It is exciting and encouraging)

With a full week ahead, I am excited to see some consistency and independence appear … .I have to say these past 3 weeks have been relatively painful – the first 2 more so, the kids couldn’t even sit criss cross and I forgot just how little gets accomplished. But they’re getting there.

All for now – needed to reflect because I appreciate going back to read what I wrote this time last year – the days of T running across tables, chasing him around the school, my principal chasing him down the street…. The moments I cried in and out of school – so far only 1 afternoon of tears this year, much of what is happening is familiar and while nothing is exactly the same, it is not all brand new and I appreciate walking into my room and knowing what needs to happen and what the kids need to look like when they leave me in June.…..And the confidence that they will get there.

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