Hi everyone! When we last met, I had just started my job as an aide in a regular education classroom, supposedly working with a first grader named Wyken who has an emotional/behavioral disorder. (BTW, all names in this blog are changed. So if you actually know a little kid named Wyken, I am not talking about him. Or her.) I was very confused because everyone I talked to seemed to have a different idea of what my job was going to be, including possibly being a "back-up aide" for a child with cerebral palsy, maybe or maybe not being an aide in a regular gym class for four boys from the special education class that joined in, maybe or maybe not having lunch duty, etc, etc, etc.
Last week it continued to get more confusing on Thursday and Friday. I had been told that I didn't need to be intensely involved with Wyken, but I did feel obligated to at least supervise him, and step in when he was misbehaving by doing things like talking out of turn (which he does a lot) or running out of the room, or refusing to follow the teacher's directions. Over Thursday and Friday I noticed the assistant principal, plus the special education resource teacher, drifting in and observing. I told myself they weren't observing me... but as it turns out, they were. I was actually nervous that I wasn't intervening enough with Wyken and that he was still misbehaving.
So on Friday, after school, I asked the classroom teacher, Mr. Shizuko, if he had any comments, concerns or suggestions for me. To my surprise, he said, "The only suggestion I have is that you back off a little from Wyken." He went on to say that Wyken's goal was to learn to be more independent, and to not need an aide anymore, and that I should just let the teachers talk to him and discipline him.
I explained that in all of my other jobs as 1:1 aides, I was supposed to closely supervise the students and keep them from misbehaving, because their misbehavior took time and attention away from the teacher and other students. When I explained this, Mr. Shizuko said I should definitely mention this to the principal, vice principal, and special ed resource teacher.
Then this morning, the actual principal, Mr. Dulcet, came into the classroom and sat down, with a clipboard and paper and pen and everything, and was writing stuff down. By this time I just assumed he was observing me. And this is only my fourth day of work, remember. I noted that I'd been told not to spend too much time with Wyken, so I tried to drift around the classroom, checking on other kids and helping them if they needed it. At one point the teacher asked me to put together some things in a notebook for two students who were absent. The two absent students happened to sit right next to Wyken, so I was sitting next to him at one of their desks while I worked. I kind of talked to Wyken then, only to whisper for him to get his highlighter from his desk (to which he whispered, "Oh thanks, I forgot!") and to remind him not to rock backwards in his chair because he might fall.
After I finished what I was doing, Mr. Dulcet asked me to come out into the hall with him. He then told me that, while he understood that I was probably moving around the room because he was there and I wanted to look busy (he didn't say this meanly, but said that he'd started out as an aide and this was what he would have done if the principal walked into his classroom) I should try to avoid "unnecessarily" helping kids or walking around the room when it wasn't needed. He then said that since Wyken didn't need much help, I might also be called out to work with another first grader in a different classroom, who has more severe behavioral issues but does not have an IEP yet.
I was feeling anxious about this because now I really had no idea what my job is! I was supposed to be a classroom aide for Wyken, but now I was not supposed to interact with Wyken or help the other kids?
However, later that afternoon Mr. Dulcet came back and wanted to talk with both me and Mr. Shizuko, while the kids were in music. That time he told me that his goal for me was to move up to an actual teaching job, and that instead of having to do busy work, I should actually be almost co-teaching with Mr. Shizuko. Co-teaching! That is, like, almost teaching! Except I'd still be getting paid as an aide. But still. Mr. Dulcet pointed out that I'd be able to add a lot to my resume, and that I could use this job as a professional development opportunity, somewhat like student teaching but with a paycheck!
So that is nice, right?
Also he said he is going to get me out of lunch duty, as soon as he hires someone else to just come for lunch duty. Which would be awesome, because I have no break other than lunch, and since I get sick if I get hungry, I can't just skip lunch. I've been trying to bring my lunch out in my pockets during lunch duty. Today I ate a turkey sandwich, some cherry tomatoes, a pudding cup of flan, and a Pepsi, all out of my coat pockets! LOL!
I also did help out a lot today with the other kids, and made several little friends. First graders are so sweet, and I know I am going to end up loving these kids just as much as I loved my little friends during student teaching.
Funny moment of the day... During morning work, Mr. Shizuko told Wyken, "Wyken, you are working so hard! I am glad to see you focusing and getting right down to business today!"
Wyken casually replied, "That's because I take a chill pill every morning. So I can chill." (Okay, that wouldn't be so funny, except that Wyken really does take a pill every morning for his hyperactivity! His mother must explain it to him as a chill pill. Okay, I guess you had to be there. Shut up.)