Piggy & The Emergency Packet!

Dear Readers,

I have a student that I call Piggy because she loves to eat. Don’t worry, she’s not offended; she actually thinks it’s cute. She is the cutest thing. I’m writing this post about her because how cute she is. All of her life she’s relied on how pretty she is. I sat down and talked to her one day and asked her if she ever thought that she could do “it!” I asked her if she was going to rely on her looks forever.

“Trust me when I say that looks fade, we gain weight, etc., etc.,” I told her.

She looked absolutely horrified when I told her that I wasn’t always a size 12. I took the time to tell her that she doesn’t have to rely only on her looks; that she could do “it.”

“You think I can?,” she asked.

“Yes, Piggy! I know you can!”

During my weekly grade check I told her that I wanted her to actually try in Biology & Math class. She agreed that she would. I told her that I was going to stay on her to make sure she did. She smiled and thanked me.

Well, I had to tell you the story of Piggy to finally get around to the Emergency Packets I made for my students.

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Obviously that’s not my hand in the picture, but I digress. This is what was in the packets I made them. It took me a couple of days to assemble the packets, so I didn’t want the students to waste them. I told them to take out the chocolate Kiss if they didn’t want it and return the bag of items to me because others wanted them.

When I got to Piggy, I asked her if she wanted the packet. To my surprise she said that she did. After she ate the Kiss, she read the note and thanked me. This shocked me because at the beginning of the year she would have simply thrown the bag away without a second thought. It said a lot that she actually cared and is starting to believe in herself.

This warmed my heart so much. I really enjoy making a difference in their lives!

Go Ahead, Call My Boss!

Dear Readers,

Bad teacher:parentThe title was too long to finish writing how I feel, so I’ll write it here. “Go ahead, call my boss. I have nothing to hide,” is what I thought as I gave this mom my number to call the head of the SpEd department. She’s one of those “shoot first and ask questions later” kind of people.

There’s such a big backstory on her and the situation I’m currently experiencing. My first meeting with her started off friendly enough. However, my thoughts about her changed once I saw how she attacked the 9th grade English teacher over her son’s grades which he earned. Little did I know that I would be the next one.

During our meeting, she was cordial enough. She then took me totally by surprise when, out of the blue, she began launching accusatory questions at me about a “C” grade. Even when I showed her his grades, she was still not satisfied. It was at this point that she stomped out of the room and apparently went straight to the Assistant Principal’s office. She told the AP that I attacked her, was unfriendly, and that she didn’t want to deal with me. I could tell by the AP’s voice and intonation that she believed the parent. I was insulted for a hot second until I realized that I didn’t care. I went to speak to the AP in charge of SpEd and let him know her M.O. He let me know that he had my back and that he would defuse the situation if it came down to it. I thanked him and went on my merry little way.

Did it end there? Of course it didn’t. That would have been too easy. The REAL problem began when the 311 report was run and the SpEd Director noticed that two students were assigned behavior intervention services. Wouldn’t you know that he was one of them? I sent home notices that she would not return. I called her and she would not answer. I even tried to schedule meetings with her that she would agree to and not show up. She began insisting that he receive the services even though she didn’t even know what they were. She began to try to bombard me with e-mails. That’s when I promptly told her that she could speak with my boss or one of the SpEd coaches if she would feel more at ease. I gave her both their numbers and wished her well. You know what, she never even gave them a call. In fact, she hasn’t even shown up for any parent conferences since then. It was not a surprise to me. I knew that she was one of the those people who try to bulldoze their way through to get their way when they know that simply asking will work. Those types of people puzzle me. I just don’t understand it. Has she never heard, “You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”

I have not had to deal with her since then but his IEP is coming up in May. I’ll keep you updated on that. Bye for now!

The Little Engine That Could!

Dear Readers,

little-engine 2I am pleasantly surprised with my students! I’m seeing leaders emerge with strengths they, or I, in some cases, didn’t even know they had. What am I talking about? I’m talking about my students coming alive and developing their life skills.

One of the activities I introduced to them when we came back from break was jigsawing. In one of my last post I stated how I put the onus on my students for asking for extra time and getting their missed work from when they were absent. I know they are only in the 9th & 10th grade but within the next 3-4 years they will be young adults in charge of their own lives. So, they need to have certain skills. Two skills they really need and that are very important to have are self-advocacy & self-reliance. They are beginning to do well with self-advocacy skills, so now I’m training them in self-reliance. Many times during the last semester, the work would be right in front of them but they would not take to time to try to uncover it. I thought and thought about how to help the overcome their learned helplessness but it was tough. Let me tell you that learned helplessness runs deep. They were so used to believing they couldn’t do it that they stopped trying.

Well, by lecturing them, supporting them, and helping them realize that they can do it, they have begun to advocate for themselves and to rely on themselves. It’s one of the best feeling in the world to see that light bulb go on and have someone realize they can do it. I always think of The Little Engine That Could when this happens. I should read it to them. They’re so young they probably haven’t heard of it. I’ll see. Back to the lecture at hand. I’m happy to see them blossoming. I’ll keep you updated.

What is Your Disability?

What is your disability? That is a question I asked of my students. In my first period class, I have 10 students. Of those 10, only one student knew that he was diagnosed with ADHD. The other ones had no idea what their disability was. So I gave them the assignment that I sussed out over the break. Since I introduced them to jigsawing, I printed articles for the three disabilities in my class- Specific Learning Disability (SLD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Autism.

Here’s the breakdown. Of my 26 students, 1 has Language & Speech Services (LAS), 2 don’t have the lab with me, 4 have autism, and 2 have ADHD, with 16 having SLD. I split them into groups, gave them the articles and the link for the Google sheet to answer the questions they would later transfer to their ppt. or Google slides presentation. I then explained their roles and let them tear apart the article and answer the questions. They were free to research any questions that were not answered by the article. I’ll discuss the outcome in another post. Just color me impressed!

Bye for now!

Techy Me! or Challenge Accepted!

Dear Readers,

I work at a Blended Learning School.barney-stinson-challenge-accepted It’s a format that combines technology with traditional learning. When I took the job I was so out of my league. However I issued myself a challenge to get into that league. CHALLENGE: Learn and incorporate as much technology into the classroom as possible within the next couple of months. At the time I was hired, I hadn’t used much technology in the classroom except my classroom blog and iFilm.

However, I knew at this school I had to step up my game. So, I did! I accepted the challenge. Not only that, I saw the challenge and upped the ante a bit.

Usually, I can’t see my progress as it’s happening. However, in an earlier post, I briefly wrote about my Quickening process (click here). I also wrote about some of the programs I was using (click here). If I can think of anything else, I’ll post it. For now, here are the programs I’ve learned.

  • Kahoot! online quiz program that automatically compiles correct & incorrect answers for me,
  • Edmodo to post my power points, make quizzes, and display instructions,
  • Haiku, used by our SpEd. department,
  • Pinnacle to take roll & track grades,
  • Class Dojo for behavior management,
  • my school website to upload digital agendas,
  • my other school website to download important documents & answer PD surveys,
  • Google docs,
  • Google sheets,
  • Google forms,
  • Google slides
  • Online stopwatch for tracking time,
  • Weebly website to post links and work from core classes.

Not sure, but I think that’s all. One last thing I’m very proud of is how I’m using Google sheets to make my exit slips for the month. I was using Google forms to send them daily, but discovered it was quickly filling up my Google drive and causing too much work for me. I knew I needed to find an easier and more efficient way to get the job done. I played around with Google sheets and figured out how to do it. Happy to say that I’m no longer creating daily exit slips; I’m now creating them monthly. If you’d like to know how, shoot me an email @ specialedandme@gmail.com.