Well, friends... If you've been reading this blog since I first started it, not long ago, you may be familiar with my many "First day" posts. There was my first day of student teaching internship at the preschool program, on January 17 of this year; my first day of regular student teaching on February 21, and my first day at the summer school program on June 28.
And then, October 10 was my first day as an aide at Apple School, where I currently work. I was hired to work with a 3rd grader with Cerebral Palsy, but when I arrived for my first day of work, I learned I'd be an inclusion aide for a first grader with a behavioral disorder. But then, on October 30, it was decided that the child I was working with no longer needed an aide, and I was switched over to working with another first grader. So I had another first day.
After working with Toko for a little over a month, I went out of town for a week on a family trip that we'd planned on long before I got this job. I knew that that week there was going to be an IEP meeting for Toko, and that they were going to try to convince his parents to allow him to move to the self-contained special education class. I doubted the parents would agree to it, and I assumed that, even if they did agree, Toko would be transitioned slowly. I imagined he might move to the new classroom after winter break.
Yesterday was my first day back.
As I walked through the front door, I ran into the resource teacher who has been the case manager for both Wyken and Toko. She told me, "Toko is in the special needs class now, so you'll be working with him in there all day long. I have to be at a meeting, so I don't have any time to talk."
Since I didn't even know where the self-contained class was located in the building, I went to my very first classroom and talked with Mr. Shizuko. He knew about the change, and he let me know that I wouldn't be working with Wyken at all any more. He also told me where the special ed classroom was.
I went down to the special education room and got the rest of the story. The special ed teacher, Mrs. Peasgood, explained to me a little more about my new job. Basically I now intercept Toko as he puts his things away in his original classroom, bring him down to the special ed classroom for reading, math and spelling, shuttle him to the first classroom for things like social studies and science, take him to gym and music and art with his original classmates, and then bring him back to the special ed classroom for the last hour or so of the day to do work and special activities in there.
Although I am getting a little tired of completely starting over, I am actually really happy with this newest classroom, for Toko's sake. It is a very small class consisting of only four other children, all of whom also leave the classroom at various times to do things with regular ed classes. There is a classroom aide, in addition to the teacher. Most of the subjects are taught either in very small groups of two or three kids, or individually. The environment is very calm, and very positive. I have never heard Mrs. Peasgood, or the classroom aide Mrs. Black, speak harshly to a child or glare at them.
And I can really tell that Mrs. Peasgood cares about the kids. She really wants to educate him. She believes that Toko has more abilities than the other teachers thought. I totally agree with that. Whenever I've worked one-on-one with Toko, he's surprised me with the things he's been able to do and understand. But whenever I mentioned this to the other teachers, they looked at me like I was off my rocker! Mrs. Peasgood lets Toko take breaks and ride on the schooter (the little, flat kind that gym classes have, not a razor scooter!) He rides up and down the hall and gets his energy out, so he's more able to settle down and focus when it's time to work. And she just talks to him so kindly. It makes me happy to hear someone actually being friendly to Toko, instead of being exasperated with him!
I feel like I will really be able to enjoy my job and get things done, from now on.
But on the other hand, do I even dare relax and get comfortable? If I start settling in, you know they're going to announce that Toko doesn't need an aide any more, and send me packing to another classroom!