evidence based

Tonight I went to a gallery walk of evidence based practices for autism. I went to support a coworker and ended up getting some ideas for my classroom and seeing ASD and ECSE people I had not seen in some time. Overall it was a pretty good event. It made me think though. There is nothing like this for our district’s EBD programming. 


When I taught early childhood autism I felt like I was part of a community that extended beyond my team at my school. I received updates through an ECSE listserv as well as through an ASD one. I continue to receive those emails but nothing has been added since I changed what disability category I teach. This really frustrates me. And perhaps enough for me to do something about it next year. EBD teachers should know one another. They should have opportunities to get together, share ideas, share stories and provide support for one another. This has been coming up often for me. Mabye now that I’m done with school its time to take a step towards making it happen.

Some ideas from the night-



Five Point Scale calming bottles. These were a make and take so I made and took. I think I might make these with my students near the beginning of the year next year. 



I also spoke with an occupational therapist who is doing groups with the zones of regulation. She inspired me to spend some time this summer planning to implement zones in my classroom next year.



A Zones book is their first lesson paired with video clips of characters representing the different zones..


My Many Colored Days

Finally I spoke with a guy who works with middle school students and he had an emotional check-in/check out sheet that I think I could tweak to meet my students’ needs.


He also uses Greatness Receipts which are a lot like brag tags. I think my students would enjoy brag tags. He lets them put all Greatness Receipts earned into a drawing at the end of the week to win a prize. I’ve always been interested in trying out the brag tags. Maybe next year is the year.

Advertisements

Tonight I compiled data on one of my students for his IEP meeting tomorrow. I have looked over his academic goals and data and I know I want to refine the focus of them in order to work more intentionally on them and progress him more quickly. 


I looked at his behavior data too. What struck me about that data is how well he has been doing over the last two weeks as he has been taking his meds. It is pretty phenomenal, the difference. Cursing has gone from a daily occurrence to nonexistent. Instead of being off task, angry and hurtful towards others often he is helping adults, offering to support his peers so that they can be successful and completing the majority of tasks (both academic and non-academic) on time.

I then got the idea to insert the same timeframe of data for another student whose placement in my program I have questioned all year. The results seem clear to me. This student has hardly dropped below 70% in positive points. I feel like this is undeniable evidence that this student should NOT be in a federal 3 setting. 

I looked at data from all of my students and there’s been a lot of progress for most of them this year except for one. His data is very discrepant from the others and I’m starting to think maybe its not working for him in this setting. 

You are missing out 

You’re missing out if you don’t know kids like mine. 

And I don’t mean “know” in the sense that they go to school where you teach or in the sense that you see them playing at a park by your home. I mean KNOW. Like spend time with them. Through the good and the bad. 

Love them.

You are missing out if you don’t get to love someone like my students.

Just reflecting this morning on how this week has been and how warm and full my heart has felt with my students. In a week that is typically so hard to get through because it’s the one right before break I have enjoyed my class so much. I am grateful to be able to teach them and learn from them. 

It all takes time but the time is so worth it.

what I am trying to accomplish

“It’s time to slow down, think about what we are trying to accomplish, and do that well.” -Taberski


Behavior strategies, room arrangement, IEP data collection, writing IEP goals, evaluation of students, meeting with families, supporting families, behavior data collection, literacy strategies, math strategies, science kits, CAFE, Reading Workshop, Writer’s Workshop, F&Ps, Math Workshop, Word Work, Words Their Way, Just Right Books, standards, observations, launches, exit tickets, testing, interims, behavior, social skills, self regulation skills, Zones, tracking student behavior throughout the day, appropriate reinforcers, engaging material, rigor, demonstrating learning, “I can” statements, building relationships with students, building relationships with coworkers, lesson planning, prepping for lessons, getting behavior under control, teaching how to read, getting students to attend to lessons….the list goes on. 


These are all things I am supposed to be doing. Most on a daily basis.


But I read the above quote in an article I am reading for class and it made me stop and think. What has been working for me recently is exactly this; slowing down and thinking about what I am trying to accomplish. I feel bad that I am a year and seven months in and only just now feeling like I might understand what my job is but I guess that means next year will be better. It is sad though that my students have missed out on learning some things because I was so overwhelmed I wasn’t truly teaching. I can blame their behavior and, yes, their behavior often gets in the way of our having successful lessons BUT when their behavior wasn’t in the way my lessons have been all over the place and trying to encompass a million things all at once. I have spent the last year and a half dipping my toes into various things I am supposed to be doing, never doing any of it thoroughly because there was always something else I was supposed to be doing so I moved to that. I haven’t been able to juggle all of these balls at once. And the result has been a lack of academic progress for my students. They had not progressed in reading or math up until recently. 


I am not going to blame myself completely here. I am going to place some blame on the system. There are some great strategies out there for teachers, some great resources and approaches to teaching but when you throw all of them at new teachers all at once and expect them to do all of it AND have their students make progress…well, I think that is stupid. Maybe it is different for general education teachers although I see them struggling too, unable to find minutes in their day to do all of the expectations of new programming with students. 


But what are my goals for my students?

1. That their self regulation and social skills progress to a point where they can join a mainstream class and decrease their time in my class.

2. That they learn to read. 

3. That they learn about themselves and find empowerment through learning the stories of others like them and through sharing their own stories. 

4. That they are happy. That they have fun. That they develop friendships.

5. That they make progress towards or within grade level math.

It has only been in the last couple of months that I have focused in on these goals with my students. I am beginning to plan in a more simplistic way that focuses on these goals. I know that this focus will greatly improve my work next year. I can only hope that I help my current students make some progress on these specific goals going forward this year.

Grateful

I’ve been faced with a lot of challenges lately. The stressors seem to add up. Seem to never end. A kick to the head and a trip to urgent care- no concussion but now to navigate worker’s comp (in my spare time). Starting with a mentor after having such a rough start to the year, knowing I need to learn more to do my job, and then every time he comes to observe I excel and the students are actually quite well behaved and on task…waiting to hear I’m doing fine and I don’t need a mentor. I would be disappointed to hear that as I feel strongly that I need some help. 

Last night I learned that I can’t take my last EBD course next semester and do my clinical practice at the same time. I was then offered the opportunity to take that course now. For 8 Thursdays and 2 Saturdays. And my head swims with how much of the very little time I have that class will eat up. There will be assignments on top of the many hours in class. 

I’m working on turning things around though. If my students can turn their day around after some of the most out of control and impossible mornings then I can turn my year around. Taking some time to focus on my mental health. Visited my doctor. Put in for two days off next week strictly so I can get ahead on lesson plans and paperwork. Planning to join the YWCA this week and go when I can. Taking time to knit in the evenings, which feels so good! Also trying to see the positives.

I have so many people on my side, rooting for me, supporting me. I am truly blessed. I am most grateful to my husband. I can’t imagine how frustrating and painful it is for him to hear my stories of being punched and kicked by students or not always being provided the best support. I know driving me to urgent care to check for a concussion was very hard. But, he stands by me. Makes my lunches and breakfasts for the next day. Listens when I complain. Let’s me cry when it all becomes too much and constantly tells me I’m doing a great job. I don’t know how I’d make it without him. 

Today is actually Karva Chauth, Husbands Day and I hope he knows how grateful I am to him for standing by me in all my crazy. Today also starts MEA. Conferences today and then Thursday and Friday off. Time to recharge and get a little ahead with things.

moving again

It was only a little over a month ago when I posted “new year, new room“. And now, on almost the last day of September I had to pack up my stuff and move rooms. Again. For those of you who have been following things this will be my 4th classroom in just a little over a year. 

The decision was made on Tuesday at our special ed meeting. The question was raised as to what to do for my class. Their behaviors have been extreme at times and it has been a challenging start to the year. Getting me a mentor is one thing that is being done. He and I have our first meeting next week. Also, there are higher ups coming to my room to observe and provide concrete feedback, ideas, and support. Also, I am really working hard on getting my shit together. Learning. Working with the academic specialists. Got a new data app on the phone to track behavior. I am making progress. 

But, unfortunately that all is not fast enough. You know, because in this country if we do not have immediate results we are not happy. But moving my room again is immediate. So I am to start in that new space tomorrow. 

I was told, “Just move what you need for tomorrow.” But that seems to be wrong to me. If I want students to feel like this is their new learning space and be excited to be there it needs to feel like a classroom. 

I spent four hours after school getting it set up. I am so very blessed to have coworkers who are true friends who stepped up to help. Five people stayed for varying amounts of time and helped me brainstorm what to do with the space, move large and small pieces of furniture and generally made me feel better about the whole thing.

Now it is set up.

Tomorrow I will move some more things and then next week on Tuesday I hope to move all the rest of my stuff. I will settle into this new room. But, if they try to move me again that might be my last day. I don’t think it is fair to have to move my classroom so much. I think that my time would probably be better spent lesson planning, getting curricula, organizing materials, collecting data, working on IEPs, contacting families, completing due process letters, talking with doctors who are calling to ask about students, teaming with outside organizations…..the list goes on and on of all the things that are waiting for me to get to them.

But for now…here’s the new space.

OH! And, since a student broke my SmartBoard AND my computer in the last room I got a new computer today…a laptop! I am excited for the laptop. I think I can keep it much safer than I could a desktop and I can take it home and use it to work from home. So, there were some positives today.

Another positive, only 4 students today and we rocked it overall!

roller coaster week 

I was just looking at Facebook and there was a post about the Forest School. Inquisitive kids huddled around a teacher in nature appearing eager to learn. And I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to work with kids who are so eager to learn?


But then I caught myself. Why would I think my own students are not also inquisitive and eager to learn? They are. They show me often that they are. I had to remind myself that just today I was on the playground with two of my students crouched down watching baby Box Elder bugs crawl all over the place. We discussed the safety of touching them and who their parents might be and remembered that we shouldn’t kill them because they are just living their life.

And then I watched my students pair up with one another and play. For real. Like kids play. Laughing and chasing and challenging one another and listening to one another for the rest of recess.

Shortly before this moment we were in the classroom. It was a mess. Torn paper all over the floor. Books thrown from the bookshelf. Pencils and crayons all over. We had just finished reading our Super Hero Training book and had just taken our worries and thrown them out in a place of our choosing (some chose the garbage, others the sink and a couple chose the funny spot of the toilet). After throwing our worries away I took a risk and told them they would need to clean the room in five minutes before we went for recess. They scrambled up and ran to their assigned jobs. They went beyond what was asked and returned furniture to its correct spaces too. Then they all returned to the rug. One looked up at me and said, “Teacher Beth, can I give you a hug?” Sure, I said. He hugged me and sat down. Then one by one 3 more asked the same question, came up, gave me a hug and sat down again. 

This was a rough week. I cried on Wednesday as I sat in the principal’s office and had to consider requesting a mentor. I cried as I felt like I couldn’t do anything right and I was failing at this job. I cried because I want to be a great teacher, I want to do amazing things for these kids, I want to feel proud and successful. I cried because I have to let go of my pride and open up to the fact that I need help. I cried because even though I need help I know I’m good at some parts of all this and I’m not sure administration realizes this.

And then Thursday I came into work completely drained from crying on Wednesday and cried again. In front of my youngest student who ran out of the room scared because his teacher was crying. He even said to me later, “Why was you crying?” It broke my heart. 

So this week was like a roller coaster from feeling utterly defeated and sucked of any confidence or ounce of energy to watching my students have these beautiful moments today when I thought to myself, we can do this. We can be a kind, loving community who struggles from time to time but also grows and learns together.

So, I’ll spend another day this weekend planning the lessons for the coming week that we may or may not even do and I’ll get up Monday morning and I’ll go back and I’ll try it all again.