Change is the only thing we can depend upon. It is healthy, in reasonable doses, and keeps the thinking in the prefrontal cortex! The old house is up for sale, it is decluttered, spruced up and ready to go to a new family. It is a great neighbourhood, with trees and large lots. In the heart of the city; it is a peaceful spot. Only a short distance to work. Yet, just a few weeks ago I drove 4 km to work and had to navigate through 15 stoplights I had hoped for change.
What a lovely drive in from Bala: 65 km through forests, around small and large lakes. I was playing Colm Wilkinson's song: We Are One
The slower you move ; The faster you go. The longer you live; The less you know. The closer you look; The less you see. We are one, We are one, Follow me.
As I DID look around me, I saw a large deer by the side of the road. She carefully navigated her way across the road, a car in front of me had slowed and she seemed to know it was time to pass. As I passed her, she stopped and looked backwards at the car traveling down the road. She was large - probably as tall as I am. Tail flicking away as she bolted off into the forest. The three-quarter hour drive is beautiful in the early dawn.
Was it ever funny asking mom and dad for the car keys! Nevertheless, I borrowed their min-van and drove that long road home, although it is not as much HOME as before.
I filled it with a garage full of classroom materials, hastily removed from the old place. I miss Sir Win and my colleagues and students. I really appreciate how much they responded to my ideas on life, educational responsibilities, 'disagreeing agreeably', respect and the curriculum I created.
I unloaded, yet again, many, many boxes. While they are just things, they are indications of who I am as an educator and important to the philosophy I bring to the classroom of high needs learners.
As a result of the incident at school last Friday, I realize that newcomers and change are not always easy for students. They could be fragile from situations at home, as much as adults. I know, having changed schools, classrooms, principal, city/towns, change can be good but it is unsettling. I know that this challenge will ask of me all that I can give.
I will work hard at demanding and expecting respect. I will have to create a classroom community that will both bond and hve some sense of identity within the school.
I have had a trying time- with no place to call my home, with a classroom not yet set up, leaving behind my husband and cats and everything that is familiar. Contemplating a new home and a new class has been interesting and challenging. Despite the emotional stress of it all I am profoundly honoured to be working with some high needs students who do not fit in to the regular classroom.
I have created some themes that we will focus on. I hope to show them what we can do if we integrate technology.
I plan on using the community to help me equip my class, and to reach out to community members who may support us.
Role Play: Bullying, managing stress,…
located in a D & T room: find adult to teach this?
Bind a 20 page book
Applying for a passport
space-the final frontier
Art: parental unit= day May/June
All of these things I have done before and have work samples to show for it. I have made some new friends. Colleagues at school have welcomed me with open arms. I have figured out where to find things for school, located stores, put together an entry plan, established the bare bones of a classroom, gone shopping and figured out what I might need and what I could find.
Yesterday I bought some posters, classroom resources materials: LA EvanMoore readers, Math workbooks/assignments from gr. 6 - 8, problem solving, times table chart, cursive writing poster, large calculators, notebooks, map, powerbar, . Science/History/Geography assignment books: Canada and Canadian studies to help them become contributing members of society.
I made a plan of what I needed and went to the Teacher's Store to fill that plan. It is all falling into place.
I have been working merrily. This past week I have dealt with these issues: School Culture Visit the school, visit in the staff room, attend staff meeting, talk to office administrators, other sp.ed. staff, Educational Assistants/Social worker.
School Building Find the school floor plan, emergency plans, fire exits, take a school walkabout.
Board Culture Talk to Principal, and the sp.ed. team, speak to others who have worked with these kids: parole officer, Ask Sp.Ed. Principal/Sup't at meeting: get P & P around Special Education in this Board,
Budget Supplies and materials, any budget? $2500 Create a list of materials: software, supplies, IT? ISA equipment? Classroom Management a) classroom timetable b) student timetable c) integration plan, teamwork? Cooperative effort? d) Behaviour management plan (see #7. Safety Below) Talk to other Day Treatment teachers for information.
Classroom Safety Code of conduct, classroom covenant – on wall, Emergency plan, behaviour plan,
Research Visit McCugh, First Place, check out previous Board's P & P? new resources books:
Entry Plan for new students -tour classroom, school, visit class, P and V-P, participate in 'getting to know you activities'. Research some Co-op learning activities.
Personal: Talk to HR, find the pay scale, benefits, pay methods, get an e-mail account. Get a copy of the Collective Agreement to learn the rules & rges.
Staff Relations Visit staff room, find kindred spirits. Phone numbers: phone tree, figure out how to call for a supply teacher.
Duties Get schedule, figure out school plan, copy floor plan for OT handbook.
s I drove the 420 km home I pondered my classroom and life. I saw two small moose in Bala, a pair of deer between one or other of the small towns. It could have been bewteen Haliburton and Bancroft!
The roads were bare, the towns quiet. I cannot imagine driving back to Ottawa during peak tourist season.
It was a thoughtful drive. I wished I had a micro-recorder to record my new ideas, my plans, people to contact, themes I would like to incorporate into the program.
I will ask Big Brothers to send someone to work with our students. A male role model would be good for them. As a mom of two boys, I have a sense of how teens must establish their gender identity and part of that includes seperating from the female/mother figure, and sorting out what it means to be a male in our society. I put together a Gender Issues in Education PPT of my thoughts. My class, at this point, is made of entirely of boys. it will be interesting to sort all this out.
What a great day. I spent some of my budget gathering curriculum materials, I cruised the web looking for book I knew existed, visiting several teacher stores and filling my parents mini-van with supplies. Kinda weird asking your parents for the keys to the van when you are 49 years old! My police check went through. I am legal. I hope to be paid and be able to move in. I have planned out many ideas and beginning strategies. I know that this job will demand all that I can give. These fragile kiddies deserve far more time and energy than I have - I only hope that I can give it amy all. With my mother being so ill from cancer and chemo, it is a blessing to be able to focus on the job and helping my at-risk students. I know I will be able to make a difference. What excitement to begin this new program. WhitePines Program is the name that was given to it. I will ensure that we create this opportunity. I will try to find an artist to create a plaque for the door. That will give honour to the concept. we went to three stores today and spent $700 on posters, resource books and supplies. My dear husband helped me. I want the room to look warm and friendly to invite my at-risk parents into the program.
In a planning meeting today we brainstormed ideas about this new program. The principal, me, as classroom teacher, the truancy officer and special education senior staff talked about administration and set-up of the program, the chain of command, the selection of candidates for the program, parental contacts (responsibility for/by team member), curriculum. The program, which we will now call the WhitePines Program, to honour Mr. Boyle who co-ordinated this project, will reach out to parents, as much as the students, to educate students and parents in the learning process. Most of my parents will not have had good experiences in schools. These kiddies need lifeskills, a building up of self-esteem, a sense that school is a good place to be. I want the room to have some great chairs, couches and a comfortable place to learn alternately.
This is a program school within a school. The register will be separate from the rest of the school, with funding by Algonquin Child and Family Services. The Child Development Worker will be a part of the process and will work with families. I will be called upon to use all of the instructional repertoire I have adopted over many years in the field of education. Instructional Repertoire include: instructional skills, strategies, pedagogies, tactics, concepts, organizers.
I plan on talking to the Rotary club or the Chamber of Commerce to find some 2nd hand furniture. I want to bring in various community members to support my group of young learners i.e. folks who can share their expertise with my students.
What an exciting and dynamic process as we work with each other to support our most previous resources: our children, our future.
I passed the WHMIS and the TB test. I am making progress. It is difficult being away from my husband. I am fairly excited with a start-up budget for my classroom. The Native Second Language teacher, bless him, has moved out of his old room and it is now mine. I put up some posters, cleaned off some desks, yay Fantastic!, and I have put my mark on the room. Suddenly, there was a meeting between several people: my Principal, and my phenomenal Special Education person. I must admit that I am vague on the names and the hierarchy at the Board office. She has been terrific, as have been all the people with whom I have been associated. Small towns are different, in that everyone knows everyone else. We had a meeting in the afternoon and determined who would be in my class and sorted out a number of other parameters.I have a small budget These kids are so very needy. Their parents even more so. I only hope I can give them some support. I read their Ontario Student Records (OSRs) and my life looks so easy. I am adopted, divorced, a single mom, sued my first lawyer ;-) and have had a time of it. but these families are all doing the best they can at the time. I feel so badly for the parents and the children. If we could only work together to help them become contributing members of society. We are all just people looking for our purpose in life, looking for someone to love, something to do, something to hope for.... God help me in my challenges that lie ahead.
It was my mother's birthday today. It did not go well. She is very ill and about ready for a hospital. I canot give her much care as I work full-time. She will not accept extra help from agencies.
It is April 4th and Mom’s 81st Birthday. While this is about dad's brain tumour, mom's illness has a huge impact on the family. Both the two of them, and the rest of us: my daughter, sons and husband.
After a day spent cleaning, sorting and trying to get my head around my new classroom in Parry Sound, I drove to Bala for a visit and dinner. As usual, with Mom’s obsession with perfection, everything is preplanned. All of Mom’s parties were done with panache and grace. She very clearly has a menu. Two neighbours are invited and are here when I arrive. They are terrific family friends, helpful women, both widows, who have done a great deal to help mom and dad continue to live here in their home. One of them picks up the family newspaper, get the mail, and picks up items from town and the other does the Kitty litter every day, amongst other chores. We make the meal and the three of us work at it, while Mom is on the couch. She is tiring out as she directs the work from where she lays. She wants a particular dish for a particular food item. We cannot quite figure out which is which. Are we ever stressed! I tell her that we cannot find the right green bowl for the chutney; another bowl will have to do. She said, “It’s my birthday. I can do it my way.” Absolutely adamant! I now understand that I cannot change anything. Mom wants to remain in control of the small things, since she has lost control of the big ones. We announce dinner. We gather round the table, even Mom. Mom manages a few mouthfuls and goes back to lie down on the couch. It is shocking how ill she truly has become. Dad is back to his chair, reading the newspaper. His tumour is back and he is to have radiation. Robin will take time off work later in the month. This new reality is hard to reconnoiter. Once of the issues of aging is aging gracefully and with dignity. Seniors needs to make choices that take everyone into account. A senior with ill health impacts on their spouse, their adult children, the community, town, and society. Seniors driving who cannot see properly, or make decisions, or hear traffic have an impact on other drivers. Seniors who make demands on family members and neighbours need to make choices about their situation. We raise our children to act as responsible adults. As adults, we need our parents to make choices that respect us as family members. Stories abound about 90-year old seniors staying alone when they are unable to either cook, or remember to cook. They end up making phone calls at all hours of the day to family members who may not be in a position to support them. I know I was torn between my adult children and my ailing parents. If our parents will not make choices that respect the impact on others, then we, as adult children are responsible.
The same is true for one's spouse. As adults we have to make choices that look after us as caregivers. If you are caring for an ailing spouse with dementia there comes a point when you cannot cope. There comes a time when you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself. Dementia is a scary symptom and difficult to deal with beyond a certain stage.
What a culture shock! It is a school with great spirit. The teaching staff have been phenomenal, the office staff superb. I have booked a TB
test (I pass out when I have needles) and have to have a Police Check ($25!). I could access my mail, but couldn't send any. Must work on that one. i couldn't get onto the Internet, either. What is a poor geek to do?
I cannot get into my room in the afternoon, either, since the Native-as-a-Second Language ( NSL) teacher uses it in the afternoons. He has to move classes. It hardly seems fair, but I bought him flowers, as well as the office staff!
I still have no employee number, since I need WHMIS and a TB test. I took the TB test this a.m., but we cannot figure out the password or the computer to use as NNDSB does WHMIS on-line annually. I do not have a bank account here, either. Might just use the one in Ottawa, as there are branches all over of my bank - but they work from 9:30 to 4:30. Monday to Friday.
I worked in my room in the a.m., but didn't make much progress. It is used as a store room for the most part, with books that were born before some of my kids(1984!) and no teacher likes to turf the previous teacher's stuff, even if s/he has expired or retired. I was assigned a grade 7 helper, who helped me clean chelves. We figured out how old the text book was as we chucked the books. Nice mini-review lesson in subtracting with zeros.
Dust everywhere. I bought cleaning supplies. It is my chance to give a new room a whole new start. I can't wait to get posters up.
I am going to buy printer, but haven't been able to print anything yet. I bought one which doesn't work with Macs. I took it back.
I'm trying to look up a Business Depot, Staples or something. They have a Wal-Mart that doesn't believe in Macs or Apple computers!
I have Non-Violent Crisis Intervention classes booked for April 25/26 and look forward to using that - well, learning it, perhaps. I hope I am such a phenomenally dynamic professional that my new kiddies are highly motivated to learn and take part in the learning process. I have a budget of $2500 plus $500 consumables, but no teacher's store in which to buy stuff!
Welcome! Brought to you from S. E. Ontario, Canada!
Happy to have been a teacher.
In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less, because passing civilization along from one generation to the next ought to be the highest honor and the highest responsibility anyone could have. -Lee Iacocca, automobile executive (b. 1924)
"Ignorance is not knowing. Stupidity is the active pursuit of ignorance"
This blog is based on my 25 years as a teacher in Ottawa, and a couple of years with NNDSB. I have time to reflect and put my experiences and opinions out there for others. Teaching is a collective experience, best shared. Visit my resume for more about my teaching background and credentials.