Sunday, October 9, 2016

Week Eight -- My last week at the high school

Good-bye gifts for my students and teachers: "Owl Miss You!"
I did it! I survived my eight-week stint at the high school. And what a week it was.

I'm still confused regarding how I was treated by some of the staff. It makes no sense to me. The only thing I can think of is that this is a small town and people gossip a lot. Maybe something was said about my age. Maybe something was said about my kids. Who knows? All I know is that I did my job there the best I could. I made connections with students. And since that's the reason I'm doing this -- for kids and their parents -- then, that's really all that matters.

My supervising teacher was extremely generous by having a party on my last day. The Life Skills class made food all morning and we munched the rest of the day. Everything was delicious. I didn't get a picture of the delicious buffalo chicken dip she made. Trust me, it was amazing.

My supervising teacher knows my favorite color is purple and she went the extra mile to do it up in my favorite hue! This was totally and completely unexpected. I was really touched. 

I made the above candy bar wrappers using a graphic you can find here: Teachers Pay Teachers

I made these gift bags using an upside down heart for the tummy and adding text. I got the rest of the adorable owl from this printable freebie: Can I Get a Hoot, Hoot?

The biggest surprise was the gynormous gift I was given by my teacher and the Special Education department.I was blown away. This crate is chock full of teaching supplies. I am so excited to use them someday!

Successes this week included advocating for a student who has been labeled as lazy. Knowing I only had a few more days with him, and convinced it wasn't laziness, I finally got him to let me get close enough to him to help him email his teachers. Come to find out, he didn't even know how to. Not only that, he couldn't navigate Google Classroom, either. I get so frustrated for kids and that's a weakness of mine. There simply isn't enough time in the day and not enough teachers to really meet these kids' needs.

I know writing that won't make me popular and I'll probably have to delete this statement when I'm applying for jobs, but it's the truth. The one population that should have the most consistency doesn't. They are taught by paras who hop in and out helping as many kids as they can. In the meantime, the teacher of record simply can't be there for them because she's called out of the room all of the time to put out fires other kids with behavior challenges start in general ed. classes.

But, for two kids this week, I was able to help them make connections with other staff who will look out for and help them. The trouble for these two particular kids is that they have built huge walls around them and are afraid to trust anyone. I will be praying they'll open a gate and let someone in.

I will say this. My supervising teacher is my hero. She has been for a long time because she was my twins' teacher for five years. She just got her dream camper purchased for next summer and her retirement years so I gave her a throw pillow for her camper and a cute camper mug.

I gave the students boxes of Bit-o-Honey, in memory of the honey unit we did (my first evaluated lesson) and a photo memory book of photos from our eight weeks. The best part of them opening the gifts was the genuine response from the student with autism who was always calling me names, "Awwww," he looked at it and thumbed through it and looked at me with the biggest smile, "I'm going to treasure this forever!"

He didn't say it using a robotic voice or cartoon voice. It was genuine appreciation. The teacher and I looked at each other round-eyed and so proud! Later I said to her, "See? He is able to function appropriately! I knew it!" (This is the same student who called me a grouch the day before for asking him to do his work and who called me an Old Goose last week. Hee hee. Love it.)

Here are the first and last pages of the photo book:

And here is the newsletter I created to summarize our September where I included my good-bye letter (click to enlarge):

I am going to miss those kids. There's no doubt about that. 

Now, I'm headed to the Intermediate school to see what that's all about. I'll be there eight weeks. In eight weeks I'll be able to apply for my teacher's license. Seems so far away. And yet, I'm sure these eight weeks will fly by just as quickly as these did. I have no idea what to expect in terms of school community or difficulty. This first week will be easy because I'm mostly observing. But in a few weeks I'll be up to my elbows in studying Indiana Native Americans and fractions. 

I can hardly wait. 

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