Guys….it’s been a while since I’ve shared.
School has been going on for four weeks now and I’m starting to get a really good feel and flow in my class.
Since my school is a school for students with exceptionalities, the classes are small but the behaviours can be big. I have 8 students in total, and while some other educators might think that is a joke, let me tell you it is a rough class to manage all by myself. Thankfully I don’t have to do it all by myself! I have an Educational Assistant (EA) all day. She works with one student in the morning, and a different one in the afternoon. They have specialized therapy sessions when they aren’t with her. Then I have another EA in the afternoon, so there are two of them. But they are totally needed! This week, one EA hasn’t been there in the afternoons and it’s been noticed!! Every single one of my kiddos has either an Autism or ADHD diagnosis (sometimes both, and every single diagnosis is mixed with other exceptionalities).
One of the amazing things of having such a small class is that after 4 weeks of lessons, I have not lost my voice yet!! I am being very proactive this year about it though. Every morning I make a travel mug of boiling water with a spoonful of honey/lemon slices/ginger chunks. I make a jar of this mixture every other week and just put a spoon into my travel mug each morning. At night I also sleep with a humidifier beside my bed and running ALL NIGHT LONG with eucalyptus and tee tree oil in it. I didn’t last night, and I woke up with a very dry throat so as I write this, the humidifier is sitting right beside my face running haha. Also since it’s the day time, I get to have the light feature turned on haha so I can see the pretty colours while I try to work.
So lessons are something that is very different for me this year. The school runs an ABA (applied behavioral analysis) program as well as direct instruction for math and all language blocks. For my students however, we are only running a language program right now. Most of my morning student’s are working at 2 years below grade level. So if my student is 6.5 years old, they are working with the mental capacity of a 4.5 year old. Most don’t know all the letter sounds, at least half don’t know any letters outside of their name. Numbers are the same.
For my class, the goal for September was just to have them happy and working together. Which has been achieved!! The principal says constantly that she loves me (YAY!) and is so impressed with my class. The way that ABA works is that you set out clear expectations and students earn tokens for meeting those expectations. If they earn enough tokens they get their top choice of play time during “cash-in” which is usually iPad or Wii time. Positive reinforcement NOT bribery.
For example: all my students have self-regulation problems. They blurt out and can’t control their voices. More so than a normal 6 year old. So, while sitting at the carpet, if they raise their hand they get a token. This week we started using little buckets and they carry their buckets with them and I just sit on the floor and drop tokens in as soon as I see good behaviour. It’s not “if you stop doing that I’ll give you a token”.
One student has severe ADHD where sitting for more than 30 seconds is a physical struggle for them. So, if I see they are sitting for longer than 20ish seconds, I tell them “good job sitting” and drop a token into their bucket. It is an amazing system!! In the summer 20 seconds was their limit. Now, after being in the therapy program since July, and the school for one month, they are able to sit at the carpet with the assistance of a fidget toy, for an entire story. It’s just WOW.
Since we are only running a language direct instruction, the mornings have been a lot to fill. I’ve had to do pre-schoolish level math and spelling games just to fill the time. We are on lesson 45 of the langauge, and once we get to 51 I can start the reading, which will take some time. And then after the reading to a certain place (lesson 30 or 40? I’m not sure) I can start reading. This last week we started a phonics program to boost awareness of letters and just how to write them. I love my little guys! They are picking it all up SO WELL. The afternoons are science and social studies and the arts. We also run a social skill’s program and character education class as well.
Most of the parents are great. There is one who is starting out to be a lot. But I know they are just wanting the best for their child. It’s still a lot though. And thankfully I don’t have to really reply to any of the emails since the principal and senior therapists have all the answers.
This weekend, I am on IEP duty. That’s Individual Education Plans for those who aren’t in the know haha. I didn’t realize it was so much work and they are all due before Friday sooooo I need to stop procrastinating.
But I have also been distracted by someone of the male persuasion. We’ve been talking for four weeks, legit the weekend that school started haha. We met in person two weeks ago and so far it’s going really well. The only thing that is not cool is that he lives in Gatineau (ew) so I can uber the 25 minutes to him but not back so he has to drive me if we’re at his place, or the bus is like 2 hours and a bazillion changes. And also, he’s a social worker and works evenings or overnight. I’m always 8-4 and this week he was 3-11. And this weekend, he picked up extra shifts so he’s doing 7am-11pm Fri/Sat/Sun. But that’s also good because now I have no excuse not to work on these IEP’s haha! Except writing this of course. But now that is done so I should really get back to work!
How was your September?!