Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Moral of the Story

About a month ago, our principal wrote a...poorly-received weekly bulletin.

A few weeks ago, our principal wrote a...poorly-received suggestion to play Secret Elfs.

She called me today after reading my response to her email and said that all her questions for me were really for herself.  Bwuah?

Plus, the "other people" that have been gossiping are none other than Aide J, and Aide S, and Speech Person DFT.

I'm still very upset, particularly at Speech Person DFT, and I still wish people would ASK ME QUESTIONS.

It's nice to have it resolved, kinda, but I'm still dreading seeing Speech Person DFT -- though, as I told our principal on the phone, I'd like to see HER do any better.  (Also, our principal said she figured DFT would ignore us completely.)

Also?  The moral of the story?

Apparently, our principal should never write emails, ever.

Ironic, given that I vastly prefer written communication to face-to-face communication, especially with adults.

Friday, December 14, 2007


As far as kids go, today was a fairly good day, though we were very short-staffed (for a total of an hour and a half today, it was me and an aide and eight kids).

Then, predictably, the other shoe dropped.

The other day, Superhero pushed PH, and then imitated a Bulldozer meltdown -- even in the intonation of the wailing.

So Speech Person DFT wrote an email to our principal and my program specialist...I'm not sure about what, but the implication was that the class was going you-know-where in a handbasket because I'm a bad teacher.

Speaking to our principal after school, she seemed fairly supportive.  She was very upset with Speech Person DFT for going over my head -- and hers.

But then I got an email basically attacking everything I do -- in the guise of asking me to "think about it" this weekend.  From a principal I thought had my back.

The class has been hard this year, and there are moments that it feels like I'm barely holding on -- but if there's one thing no one has ever questioned, it's what and how I teach the kids.

So now I have to go to the Christmas party knowing that DFT will be there, and now wondering where I stand with the principal.

There was more, but even thinking about it is making me feel sick to my stomach.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


(Aide J and Aide S were both out today; fortunately, we had mostly okay subs...the morning went well...the afternoon went to you-know-where in a handbasket, but the subs played Sequence with the kids that were doing well, so that went okay.)

Right on the heels of Elastigirl's triumph yesterday, I got some interesting news today.

(I'm gonna be even more vague than usual in order to preserve anonymity, but I imagine at least Cat will know who I'm talking about.)

There's a student in the class who we'll call...Jane.  Jane has Down syndrome.  Jane has significant cognitive delays and some behavior issues.

My program specialist, as well as the psychologist who did her last tri, insisted that her cognitive level was six to nine months.

Now, this girl has severe cognitive delays -- no one is disupting that.

But six to nine months?

Nu-uh.  No way, no how.

While talking to Speech Person DFT (who, predictably, wants to exit her from speech without a reliable communication system) about her, she mentioned that Jane's cognitive level came out to about 2 years.

THANK you.

Now, I don't put much store by cognitive levels -- especially in kids who may have what people used to call "splinter skills" (but if you don't have disabilities, they're called talents) -- but a ballpark is nice.

Six to nine months is ridiculous.  Two years, I can live with.  That's been my guess all along.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

E = MC2

I could easily vent about the happenings at school (again with the, "Why can't you just come to work and do your job like the rest of the grown-ups in the world?" with a dose of "Writing With Symbols, please cooperate just this once), and Aide T has been kindly comisserating with me over email -- a fact that, I fear, would not go over well if other people knew about it...


I got distracted there.

What I wanted to say was that this was all overshadowed by one of those tiny shining moments that make your heart swell with pride and go "Yeeee-haw!"

Elastigirl, as you may have guessed from reading this blog, has some pretty significant delays. She has some challenging behaviors and a lot of obstacles to overcome.

That said, I adore the girl.

Anyway, she spent several years of her education either left to her own devices or forcibly moved to "quiet areas" and left alone. It took my staff -- chiefly Aide T -- and myself about 6 weeks last year just to convince her that we wanted her to sit with us, and that she should sit with the rest of the group.

Today, though....

Today, we were doing a group lesson -- our whole school uses the Second Step program, and I've been doing modified versions of the fourth grade lessons. However, with this group, I've had to mix it up a bit.

First, I have PECs pictures of feelings and we go through them in a sort of game-like format. Every kid gets four "Turn" cards -- four chances to be right, then they can't answer any more -- and I'll hold up a feeling. Anyone who knows can raise their hand, then I pick someone to answer (usually via eenie-meenie-miney-moe).

So, today, I hold up "frustrated."

Seven hands go up.

I start eenie-meenie-miney-moing, intending to...ahem...accidentally land on Superhero, because I know he knows that one, when, lo and behold...

...wait for it...


I stare at her.

She's not really following natural cues and imitating her classmates, is she?

That would be too huge. No way. It was a fluke.

Still, I go over, present "frustrated" and the blank back of a card as a distracter, and say, "Elastigirl, where's 'frustrated'?"

She picks it. The class claps for her. She preens.

We go on, me still thinking it was a happy fluke that I had the chance to reinforce.

A few turns later, I hold up "excited."

Seven hands go up.


That's twice, in one day.

I go over to Elastigirl, who had since put her hand down, and look at her. I raise my hand. The rest of my monkey-see-monkey-do kiddos follow me.

Elastigirl does not look at me. She looks at Superhero and Angel. She thinks. She looks at Superhero again.


I realize that for those of you wno do not deal with kids with severe cognitive impairments, the idea of a 10-year-old girl looking at her classmates and copying them is not a big thing.

For Elastigirl, this is like figuring out the Theory of Relativity.

It still may have been a fluke...but it was THREE times...and if she can do it three times today, she'll be able to do it again...on her own timetable, of course.