Tuesday, March 26, 2019

What's not to get?

Where other teachers want to strangle kids, I think it's hilarious. 

Imagine thinking you can get out of doing your work by pretending to be a drone -- and you're in 8th-grade. Tell me that's not a student with some issues, folks. That kid isn't giving YOU a hard time. That kid is HAVING a hard time! 

I shake my head because I'm not sure why that's so difficult to understand? 

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Mrs. Akins, You Taste Like Soap

Pretty sure this will be the title of my next book.

Teaching students with Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities and students with autism is my favorite job in the world. Except for fourth grade. Which you know, is my favorite, too. But once you find out how much you love working with difficult students, teaching typical kids can be, well, kind of boring. My principal told me she's never seen anyone de-escalate students the way I do and as quickly as I do. I'd say that's a pretty great endorsement! I can't take credit for my ability. I mean, I was sort of born with it the same as anyone is born gifted to do anything else right?

The job isn't perfect by any means. My caseload is too big. The school is a full-inclusion school so my students have a tough time navigating it at times. Most of the time, actually. It makes my job a challenge.

I have two of the best paras on this earth helping me. One is with one of our students all day and the other one is helping me right now with some "frequent flyers" in the room. These are students who spend a good portion of the day in our room. To be on diploma track they have to go to class at least 15 minutes per class and we support them academically in our room when they come to us after that. It can get chaotic with that many needs in the room, and with so many students pushing back and not wanting to comply with directives. You have to have a good sense of humor!

One of the reasons I love this job is that it's challenging. I love the constant adventure of figuring out what will work to help a student navigate the stressors of their day. There are things I'm good at and other things I'm not so good at. But I believe I will get better at those things each day and become a well-rounded teacher. The things I'm good at, I feel, are the most important. My students know I love and care about them. When they get through an entire day without a meltdown? That's a WIN. Winning rocks!

Friday, March 22, 2019

There's no tired like Teacher Tired...

I'm wiped. Transitions and FBAs, BIPS, and transition IEPs...put a fork in me, I'm done.

I didn't even know when my husband took this picture!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Our Special Education Professional Development

Our special education team at ISMS had the privilege of leading a 45-minute professional development for our staff. We focused on learning the differences between modification, differentiation, and accommodation. Below are the materials.

I edited and produced this video using Camtasia software. Here's the link to the overall presentation:

SPED Led Professional Development

My main contribution was the link to the menu of choices teachers can use to differentiate:

Differentiation Menus

Does your school have a weekly professional development? What do you do during yours?

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

So, I'm teaching behavior this year...

No one asked if I wanted to. I just got a phone call that said, "You're teaching behavior resource this year!"

So I had to move out of my office and classroom and move into two other rooms - one in 6th-grade and one in 8th-grade. Which meant doing things very similar in each room for my students with autism and other emotional disabilities.

What a job. If my husband and sons hadn't helped me, I'd never gotten it done! I'm very happy with how the rooms turned out. Here's my room in the 6th-grade wing:

I have a calm-down tent in both rooms. 

I got a lot of push-back from someone for setting up my room this way. They were convinced the kids would tear it apart. So far, they've not been super-destructive on purpose. I did have one very angry student rip a hole in the tent. But these little pop-up tents are only $30. I put some pretty duct-tape over it to repair it and next year I'll get another one. These tents are used a LOT. They are magical the way they calm kids down and help them regroup.

One of my students hides with the pillows and likes the pressure of them stacked on himself. Hello, Autism!

As far as people being worried about bed bugs in my pillows, that hasn't happened yet, either. I do spray them down with tea tree oil and I think that might help. All in all, the kids love their room and take good care of everything. I think when things are nice, they have a different respect for it. I don't know. I could be wrong. 

And guess what? I love it. I like this position so much better because I get to interact with the students more. My caseload is still high (27) but after getting broken in last year with a caseload of nearly 60? This feels ok. (Even though one student with a behavior diagnosis is equal to three, which gives me 70+ but I still like this better!)

What did you teach this school year? How are you liking it? Do you think you'll teach it again next year? Let me know!

Can you guess my new mascot?

As soon as I get my badge, I'll announce my new school and position. So excited!!