Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wednesday Ramblings

Hey all, happy Wednesday! This week has been brutal, sitting in conferences and meetings all week.  Today was an all day behavior conference.  I don't know if you know this, but putting 100 Special Education teachers and school counselors in a room is the definition of behavior disorder.  We all have ADD &/or OCD and when the conference center doesn't have adequate wifi you're looking at one big hot mess of crazy.  Like scratching heads, legs twitching, and rocking in the corner crazy.  Let's be real; you have to be a little loco to be a teacher these days.  If you aren't when you start, you most certainly end up crazy after a few years, if you make it that long.  Back to the conference, most of us already employ these strategies daily. Plus we all have IEP's to update or data to input into a spreadsheet, or a shit ton of artifacts to upload into our evaluation before Tuesday. We need to be able to multitask.  Where's the darn wifi signal? And yes, shit ton is a unit of measurement.  Let's not forget I live on a farm.  There is literally tons of shit. I digress...... see what I mean about the ADD?

The two big takeaways from today were the biggest issues I have with teaching the "exceptional" populations.  Mind you 50% (or more) of kids in school have some kind of label that affects their education and daily life.  Many more don't have any kind of label but have circumstances in their lives that impede their learning in some way.  Some kids learn how to cope with life successfully, others not so much.  A resounding theme today was "Common Sense".  It seems like we miss that so often, myself included.  I've always prided myself on getting along with and building successful relationships with students to help them succeed.  I have found myself falling into the "but this is what I want you to do" pattern, rather than actively planning strategies for success.  Sometimes that 2 years I spent out of education seems like 20 years.  It's so easy to fall out of habit of best practice procedures for the sake of getting through a chapter, skill, or book. 

Takeaway #2 was that evaluating student behavior and creating a successful behavior plan is a TEAM process involving all teachers.  The planning process is not just paying lip service to desired behaviors and agreeing with the Special Education teachers or behavior consultants; we all know those teachers, or have been one ourselves.  Our job is to discuss what is feasible, what we will work with for the best situation for the student, NOT for the teacher.  Isn't the ultimate goal to change the child's behavior or coping mechanism.  Why does it seem like administrators loose this skill of considering common sense the longer they are administrators?  Is it something injected into their arm during grad school that sucks it out of them a little bit each year? It's why I can never, ever, ever get my admin license.  Ever.

These seem logical, right?  Doesn't seem like it should be a big deal.  Do what's best for the student.  In the business world we don't hand someone a task and tell them they have to do it one specific way or it's wrong and they'll be fired.  We give them guidelines, the tools they need to complete the task, and set a deadline.  The end.  It's up to that person to complete the task.  At least that's how it was for my little sector of the business world.  Each of us in the office did quotes differently, priced differently, thought through the process differently.  We all were successful.  We talked through things with each other.  None of us was wrong.  All of us were right in the end product.  It's aggravating to me how we ask for kids to fit into neat little boxes void of character flaws and personality quirks.  Why is it odd to sit as a TEAM and help a kid learn coping skills for life?  

I am so guilty of making life easier for me.  I haven't done a good job of building a team atmosphere in my classroom or with my colleagues this year.  I've been guarded and played it safe in many circumstances.  That's definitely a quirk of my character; play it safe until I know it's going to be ok and I'm not going to get thrown under the bus.  It's happened too many times when I've poured my all into my passion and my work only to get hurt very badly.  It's not something I'm proud of, but it's who I am.  But I also know I'm better as part of a team.  No one is an island.  It takes a village to raise a child and I'm part of the village.  I need to be a part of the village or swim away.  That's a serious decision I need to make.  

I know there are struggles in every job and career.  Am I off base on my interpretations from today?  Does it seem unreasonable to have common sense and work as a team to help kids? What are your struggles in your job?  Do we have too many coddled and catered kids entering the workforce with unrealistic values and expectations? 

I'll take a deep breath and go lift some heavy shit now.  I have to work out this frustration with some kickboxing.  Carry on.


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