Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How to Use a Remote Control and other Useless Advice

We used to have a fuzzy television set with six channels that you changed by leaning forward and pressing the buttons at the base of the TV. But then the twin towers fell. And we lost our reception.

So we got cable. No point in being depressed, terrorized and having lousy reception..

Then since we had cable tv we needed a 50 inch high definition TV. You can't sit close enough to a 52 inch high definition TV to change the channels by leaning forward, and anyway it came with a remote control

Okay so I lived all those years without a remote, and this one had a series of buttons to press in a certain order but I mastered it. You can teach an old dog new tricks.
But sometimes I cannot perform the series of button pressing in a rapid succession therefore delaying the viewing pleasure of the immediate audience. Which causes my husband to 1) take the remote away or 2) explain for the forty millionth time how the remote works..

I know how the remote works! I just have technical difficulties.
I respond to the offer with the counter offer that if he touches the remote or instructs me one more time the TV will change channels every time he sits down.
And this story belongs on my school blog why?

When I had the fuzzy, little TV set, I also had a special education supervisor, who made the schedule and distributed them the first day of school. Students with like disabilities were placed in programs with similar needs and a class was formed a staffed. But now in the name of great leaps forward in education of students with special needs, students are assigned schools, the school can group then anyway they want (as long as their needs are met) and it is my job to figure out the schedule.
I couldn't. Suffice to say I could not make the numbers add up. Not enough students in anyone category to form a group, but the student's difficulties with the learning process had the annoying habit of not disappearing because nine other similar students had not enrolled in the school.
The principal (who couldn't do it either) invited someone from the network to come down.

And here is her words of wisdom

Good Morning Overwhelmed Teacher,

It was a pleasure meeting with you and MS Teacherfish yesterday afternoon.

To do a brief recap of our meeting:

We discussed:
· Amending IEPs according to each student’s skill levels and the services the school can provide to support each student
· A bridge class of 8th and 9th grade students who are self contained cannot be done
· In 9th -12th grade students can be in the same subject class as long as each student needs the specific course credit
· If there are any students in a class who is less than 16 years old then there can not be more than a 3 year age difference.
· To build capacity of subject area expertise it is best practice for Special Education Teachers who co- teach ICT classes to teach the same subject for Self Contained classes

Please feel free to contact me with any other questions or concerns.

Clueless Helper

Still no schedule. Still no way to figure it out. But now I think I knew exactly what I knew before she came to help.

I know how special ed works! I just have technical difficulties.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Metaphoric students and moving balls

New school year- again. Here comes the Common Core Curriculum, new teacher evaluations and another year of trying to survive the anti-teacher education climate.

But our principal was a physical education teacher. So we began our professional development series with a team relay race that required us to move various-sized balls in tubes, across the gym.

On Tuesday, the new organization sheet had me as the high school special education teacher. On Thursday when classes began, I was told to teach sixth grade Social Studies, oh and maybe Technology ( but not in the tech room).

The old me would have had a fit. The new me---
Well it was kind of was like a treasure hunt game. First I had to figure out what periods I was supposed to teach those classes, remember my assignment was high school special ed, then I needed to figure out what room to teach them in and lastly (the most tricky part) I was supposed to find the students. (Just for the record, the students were, not even one time, in or on the way to the room where the secretary told me the class would meet)

But I am a good treasurer hunter, and a fair "winger" of unplanned lessons.
I read the Social Studies class the book Squids Will be Squids, by John Sciewska.

Then I asked: How can stories tell us about their author's culture?

And many kids gave good answers, but one said, good stories relate important information about culture through the use of metaphors and similes.
(Maybe I should wish that the principal doesn't actually figure out that I should be the high school special education teacher!)

So that is what the "moving the different balls through the tube relay race" was all about, it was a simile or maybe a metaphor, on how working as a team we can "move" children. (If you are a not a NYC teacher, you may not know that in any year the sole purpose of a teacher is to "move" a student from the category of proficiency s/he placed in the previous year to the next higher level)

BTW- I figured out early in the race to maneuver my body so my back was to the other contestants, place my finger securely on the open ends of the tube and pass it on before anyone noticed.
Hey - after thirty tears of teaching I was not about to crawl around the gym floor chasing metaphoric students or runaway balls.

And, Michele Rhee, Atlanta and Philadelphia administrators- I am not drawing any conclusions about the relationship between standardized tests and "moving" students progress and cheating!

But remember- that at least one very bright sixth grader thinks that an author's story relates information about culture through the use of similes and metaphors.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

On wearing uniforms

I didn't believe in uniforms for public school students. I kind of thought the good thing about going to public school was that you didn't have to wear a scratchy plaid jumper and woolen knee socks. I wore jeans and t-shirts, my kids wore jeans and t-shirts and nothing itched.

But I'm getting used to the idea. In fact I found my school shirt and khaki pants today, so much easier than dressing up for the first day of school and the philosophy that students who adhere to uniform rules tend to adhere to other rules is growing on me.

So there I was in my school uniform giving out high school schedules today, this first day of school. Delia was looking for her schedule when the assistant principal sized up her version of the uniform- a pair of snug tan pants, a stretchy white tee and a spandex cardigan. Delia has the shape to pull it off- the outfit would have worked according to any teen fashion magazine. Delia didn't look slutty- just luscious.

But not according to Ms. AP. She fussed.

Delia's defense- I woke up in a bad mood - I've already given my mother attitude and now (Ms. AP) you're starting with me. And my mother doesn't have the money to buy any more school shirts.

More fussing- from both of them.

I said: Come on Delia you only got to get through ten more months before graduation and if you shut up and apologize and tell Ms. AP that you will gladly wear the school shirt I will buy you one.

So she did- but not too fast.
And an hour later the bill was in my mailbox.
And Delia was in the school shirt -open, with the tight tiny teeny tee shirt and the bottom emphasizing stretch khaki pants.

She still looked luscious.

Another year begins.