One good piece of news is that I think I have GAA collection #1 finished! WooHoo! Or at least that’s what I think. Now I have to compile it and organize it and get it all onto a recognizable portfolio from the formless mass of files and pictures I currently have. That will take a lot of work, and I may have to go back and pick up a couple of things, but other than a few pick-ups, I feel like I got it. I actually had to totally redo the science from the planned experiment since the early freeze and heavy rains killed most of the plants I had going. Another advantage of pushing strong early is that I had (and still have) options for revision and improvement without crashing the deadline. This is good, because I have a few other deadlines that will get me.
A couple weeks ago, our dept. head sent out an email asking if anyone would want to host a student teacher. One would think I might jump all over that, and just a year or two earlier I would have. But many of the feelings that generated the earlier whine posts have dampened my enthusiasm for bringing someone new into the business. I’ve worked with a few paras and other people who are somewhere in the pipeline toward becoming a special educator, but my recent state of mind has put a dark cloud over whatever recruitment efforts I might engage in. In years past, the hope was to bring other competent and passionate people in, in order to raise the bar of professionalism and minimize the sort of shock many new SID/PID teachers encounter when they are hired off the street from another field or with NO teaching experience. They have no idea what to do with these students. Recruitment got more serious as I was wanting to move on and find a replacement so that I could. Then despair set in as I realized there was no replacement and that those who make such decisions have never had any intentions of letting me teach anything else, anywhere else, no matter what I did.
So the idea of infecting someone brand new with that sort of cynicism wouldn’t be my first choice. Plus, what are the odds that someone who was student teaching would even want to be in this setting with these students? Last job fair I attended, I informally polled the job applicants who were standing in my vicinity. Guess how many had any interest at all in SID/PID at the high school level? How about NONE – Zero. In fact, several were trying to escape self-contained settings. So imagine my shock and awe when I learned that the student teacher was very interested in this population! And so, she’ll be spending most of here time here with us.
I’m not going to blog her, but I immediately think of Ms. Ris, who often blogs about mentoring student teachers. I can not even remember the last time I encountered a special education student teacher as they are often hired first, before they even finish a master’s program. That’s essentially what happened to me almost 20 years ago.
What I will blog, tho, is that having someone new in the room can have collateral effects all around. For my part, it does give me more of a purpose in life beyond my own fuzzy, murky, smokey uncertain future. Here’s someone interesting in learning the craft, and I find I do have a thing or two to teach. And the act of passing it on also helps me reflect and learn myself. A body naturally processes and thinks more about the content when they are teaching it, and in this case the content is teaching! This blog provides a great deal of reflective space for me, but this is a different level. Even my video channel was an effort to pass my ideas and knowledge on. I think it is just part of every teacher’s DNA to want to pass on what they know.
But it isn’t just me. The paras also can feel that sense, because they also have a chance to share what they know. And it goes without saying that I could never do what I do without them. So there’s this building dynamic going on, which puts us less at a defensive posture and back on the initiative. And that is exactly where we needed to be after being swamped and feeling overwhelmed by circumstances beyond our control while it seemed no one was hearing us or cared. In the final analysis, it’s the students who ultimately benefit from the newer and more positive energy. Part of the reason for the earlier posts was to just get some stuff off of me and out into the air as well as just process it and noodle it out. Plus I know several other folks who could relate.
In the interest of fairness, I also need to mention a couple of gains this year that some folks have kindly pointed out to me:
- The paras and I have a duty-free lunch for the first time in 10 years. That is a big miracle. Of course, stuff still happens with the kids I teach, but it is still a milestone, similar to the planning period that I acquired a few years ago. Speaking of which….
- I do have a planning period. It is only fair to mention it so it doesn’t sound like I’m totally trapped all day long. Just most of the day;-) Lunch time isn’t the most convenient time, and I do help get the kids through the line and help all those involved in the feeding.
- Other helpers are around. Other teachers and paras have pitched in and supported us through some of the toughest and stickiest times. Feeding time is HUGE and a lot of other teachers and paras outside of my own private little band are involved in this effort.
As far as the battle for trying to get more help in the form of another para or another teacher in the room, it is pretty much over. No relief is coming in the foreseeable future, so it’s time to move off of that. Generally, when I fight I try to make my first blow the strongest and most direct possible. I am not a fan of long protracted struggles especially when I am on the losing end. So I do what I can with whatever resources I have remaining instead of wasting time and effort battling a brick wall. I’m going to need all the energy I have to do what needs to be done.
And I’m going to have to dig deeper than ever before. So perhaps now is a good time to channel a couple of my favorite movie scenes:
I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me.
A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day.
An hour of wolfes and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crushing down! But it is not this day!
THIS DAY WE FIGHT!
By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!”
The Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King