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Designed a logo and bought some business cards — it’s going to be a big, productive, and wonderful year 🏫✏️📚🍎

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Welcome Back!

It’s that time of year again . . .

Time to:

  • turn your computer back on
  • look over the schedule
  • get a glimpse at this year’s roster
  • meet a new crop of teachers
  • listen to new guidelines, themes, rules, etc.
  • rehash familiar guidelines, themes, rules, etc.
  • open new boxes
  • open old boxes
  • create bulletin boards
  • laminate
  • fill out beginning of the year forms
  • create student folders
  • rev up that copy machine
  • agree to every technology update
  • attend trainings
  • watch training videos

. . . it’s time to get ready for a new school year.

Take it day by day. Take it item by item. We will all, slowly, frantically, maybe a little enthusiastically, or little hesitantly, be ready soon enough.

End of the Year Checklist

Unless you’re a teacher, you have no idea what the end of the year truly involves.

Here is just a small sample of things that must be done in the final weeks (think 3 or less) on top of teaching:

  • input final grades
  • write report card comments
  • turn in report cards, adjust according to feedback
  • file report cards, IEPs, attendance, end of the year checklist, final exams, grade promotion, and any other important paperwork–and yes, file by hand
  • end of the year awards: decide, make, send out letters, attend
  • end of the year celebrations: promotions, festivities, graduations all require planning & clean-up
  • take down classroom (days’ worth of time)
  • clean entire classroom (scrub desks, wipe down boards and shelves, empty out drawers, remove all food from every corner of the room)
  • take home any personal items (the extra pair of shoes, your water bottle, the candy drawer–all that cannot stay over the summer)
  • return school property: books, curriculum, posters, manuals
  • return emergency items: first aid kits, emergency plans, emergency signs, etc.
  • end of the year trainings (WHY?!)
  • meetings and trainings for the next school year (Why? I’m not going to remember in 8 weeks what was discussed, or who I met!)

Optional, though often obligatory, or added joyful obligations:

  • signing everyone’s yearbook
  • creating an end of the year gift for students and families
  • attending added events–the ones not affiliated with your current assignment, classroom, or school (ex. former students’ graduations and promotion ceremonies)
  • end of the year celebrations with co-workers/other teachers

The end of the year is filled with a number of added layers of responsibility. It’s stressful, but on that last day . . . bliss.

 

Why do I teach?

Installment #5:

This is the time in the school year where I am most reminded, most excited, most content about teaching.

I teach for right now, this moment, when I can sit back and look at my students and marvel at their progress.

This is the time of year when I am most reminded of the purpose, beauty, and benefits of teaching. My students each year were different people at the end of the year, my class was completely different from the first day of school. My students were more mature, more independent, and more lively at the end of the year. I would look at their work I had saved during the first couple of weeks and compare it to now, the end of the year, and feel accomplished and proud–not just of them, but of myself. We had come a long way, we had achieved so much.

Teaching is hard. It is exhausting. It can be trying. At the end of the year, during those final weeks, I am reminded that I teach in order to grow and help others grow. That duty, and that service, is challenging and rewarding; so, I keep teaching, I keep choosing this amazing profession.

Special Education: Part 2

Students that qualify for special education can fall into a number of categories. While the most severe and visible categories of special education are usually displayed and discussed, as noted in my first post, special education is broad, complex, and includes a number of services for each individual’s circumstances.

When I speak with non-educators, or when I have watched the news, the students who need special education services are limited in understanding–the range and diversity of students is not evident in the discussion, nor adequately represented in any forum.

Therefore, let me list some categories, demographics, and populations to illustrate the wide-range of need, services, and students that qualify for special education:

  • blind/visually impaired
  • permanent and temporary physical disability
  • deaf & hard of hearing
  • speech impairment
  • language delay
  • specific learning disability–i.e. dyslexia
  • intellectual disability
  • multiple disabilities
  • other health impairment (the all-encompassing category)

Within each of these categories, there is an abundance of diversity. For instance, five students with language delays in the 2nd grade can have 5 different levels of severity in their language delays due to previous support at home and at school, as well as other factors such as the underlying cause of their language delay.

Technically, IDEA has 13 broad categories for special education (autism, blindness, deafness, emotional disturbance, hearing impairment, intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury, visual impairment). That’s not to say that these categories cannot overlap, will not change over time, or be renamed. Our understanding of health and education is constantly evolving, and so are the labels and practices tied to them.

These categories do not touch on a student’s gender, age, primary language, first language, religious orientation, place of birth, citizenship, family structure, or overall schooling experience. All of these individual factors influence the best placement, ideal service, and the development of academic goals.

The point in all of this is to emphasize that special education services are incredibly vast because the range, diversity, needs, and abilities of students is equally vast. So, in the next conversation on funding, on who will teach what, on where students should be placed, on what constitutes special education, on who needs special education, etc. extend that discussion as far as possible–because that’s how far special education extends.