A day off and a phone call...

It was a blessing to lay in bed until 8 am :) WAHOOOOO sleep and laziness! My baby pup joined me though I think she thought it was play time not lazy time. I was able to go pick my sister up and we've had a great day together! We bought some new nail polish and I now have blue nails (which is crazy for me but I love it!) I made pie crust dough and I'm planning on making it into an apple pie tonight!

In the afternoon I got a phone call from school. We're going to try something new with K because of the amount of meltdowns he is having everyday. So for the next few weeks he will have his own little space in a different room and with someone who can be one on one with him all day everyday. He truly needs this individual constant attention and I can't give it to him with 5 other kids that need me too. So for the next few weeks myself and classroom aide will have 5 sweet boys who we are to focus on. K will be the responsibility of a few others until he is ready to come back into my classroom.

My heart is a bit relieved because I knew my other 5 were suffering, but I didn't know how to be everything to everyone.

God provided. Tomorrow, will be a good day.
Happy teaching!


My sweet boys...

Yes, I do refer to them as "my sweet boys" ... It makes them smile and sadly it might be the only positive verbal love they hear for the remainder of the day.  Some of them do not have the loving and supportive home like I grew up in.
Some of them carry a lot of anxiety.
Some of them are afraid of other students.
Some of them need more positive reinforcement more often than others.

All of them need love.

I always seem to amaze myself when I come to this conclusion (you would think that after the first few times, I would catch on....nope, still amazes me) concerning myself and teaching.

I'm not like a lot of teachers. Somedays that's a good thing and somedays it's not. I'm fairly simple (though I can be terribly confusing) in how I view the world and the humans that live on it.  I have come to the simple conclusion that all anybody really needs is someone to love them.  Not just provide for them physically and/or emotionally....but to truly love them. To be amazed at the things they do week....to provide structure, consequences, and rewards consistently...to be patient with them when they mess up...to hang their artwork on the wall....even if its not the nicest!

Last year my partner teacher was frequently concerned about my attachment to my students. Some days he warned me that I would burn out very quickly or wouldn't be able to move on at the end of the year. I fought him on this because I kept telling him that the attachment and concern I had for my students kept me going and made me work harder to be a good teacher. He was partially right and I was mostly wrong....about one thing.  I couldn't move on.  I struggled through our move and the entire summer with letting go of my 5th graders.  I wasn't planning on not being there this year when I sent them home for the summer. Even when I started the sub position at the autism academy, I still fought it. I didn't belong here. My kids were back there.  What my partner teacher probably didn't realize was that he was preparing me more for my own classroom now than he was in dealing with my classroom then.  I will always care for my students, but I understand the importance of having some detachment.  K wouldn't survive if I couldn't detach myself from him. I am capable of teaching my six sweet 15 year old boys with autism because of the classroom management he taught me how to use consistently.  And because for so many months he showed me how to balance caring for my students but not carrying their burdens. He taught me how to be strong for my kids when they needed me to be able to hold it together. Sure, some nights I bring school home...who doesn't? But most nights I can let my frustration at school.

Today I realized this again. We were in the middle of meltdown #2 of the day, and I was verbal to K and three adults were holding him. Once he started to calm, I had to count to 100...out loud...sheesh, it's a long way from 1 to 100 .... But in the middle of it, thinking back to the mean things K screamed at me in the middle of his anger, and the spit he spewed that was running down my neck, and the bruise that was certain to appear on my leg from him kicking, I realized that I found that balance. I can keep my voice calm for him because he needs me to be calm. I can keep my touch gentle because he needs to feel something kind. I don't take his mean comments personally because I know when he's finished being angry he'll say he's sorry.  I can let go of the morning tantrum so that when the second one comes, I can be strong for him again.....now by the time the 4th one was over, I was out of patience.

I savor the moments when one of them smiles. Ja smiles when I call him my sweet boy. Je loves to have his hands tickled. To really enjoys helping me and is always offering to organize my messy table! Ty just wants one of us to listen to him....and let him make copies...he enjoys tasks and making copies is one of his favorites! M just wants individual attention. K loves cookies and playing tic-tax-toe....See, even when they throw fits; hit; spit; kick; say mean things; and flat out disobey me....I can still love them through it.  Not by giving into them but by teaching them how to become better at using coping skills and making better choices.

I am thankful that God created me to be a teacher. He made me in such a way that I can love these sweet boys and take on their tantrums. He gave me a great partner teacher that I could lead from so that I would be ready for these boys at this time. I don't know how long they will be mine. I don't know how many tantrums I really have the strength to weather, but I know that God has been gracious and faithful in providing me with just the right amount of patience and love for each day. Very much like the manna, He gives me what I need for each day.

And through it all, start to finish, we all just need a little bit of love.  See, love covers a multitude of things.

Tomorrow I have a day off. I plan on sleeping and enjoying a few hours with my beautiful sister. I am thankful for the supportive staff that was encouraging me to take the day to rest. They have been a big help in teaching me how to work with K. I am thankful that every morning we gather as a staff of people and pray for patience and strength.  We pray for safety and health for our kids & staff and we pray that in their most horrid fits, we are able to remain calm and compassionate. Tomorrow I will rest and be ready to finish the week out with my sweet boys! Field trip on Friday...we're going bowling!!

Do you have any stories? I love stories!
Happy teaching!


a boy called K...

Some cookies are tougher to crack than others.  I honestly prefer the puffy soft cookies but I can understand why some people like the hard cookies that have to be dipped into milk in order to have a bite taken out of them.

K is a tough cookie.  It's going to take a lot more than a little milk to crack this kid.  Two meltdowns, three adult men, and one teacher desperately trying to keep her voice calm and 45 minutes later......he was calm enough to walk down to the sensory room on his own.  He didn't make it in time for the van to take him home so his dad had to drove over an hour to come pick him up.  Ruins my after school plans and it ruins his afternoon/early evening because he has to drive so much.

K's a sweet boy with a high pitched voice that sometimes makes me smile.  He's also got a set of lungs any opera singer would be jealous of.  A boy does he know how to wale when he wants to :)

The veteran staff keep telling me "he's a hard one" "it's going to take lots of time" "keep doing what you're doing".....that's great, but how do I keep myself going.  One travel mug of coffee and a low calorie lunch doesn't seem to be cutting it.

Not to mention my family at home...I don't feel like walking my dog (mind you it's also raining...ugh) nor do I feel like attempting the new casserole I had planned to make for dinner tonight.  I definitely don't feel like arguing about why I'm tired....because I had a child screaming and spitting and fighting us for 45 minutes today. Yes, he's a spitter.

I love it.  I thrive on it and during it.  I do have a little bit of pride in the fact that I can keep my voice calm and gentle throughout his fit.  I want to be good for these kids.  I want to learn how to be an excellent teacher of students with autism.  I want to sometime come to a point where I can offer other people suggestions, ideas, tips, comments, and know that I have an idea about what I'm talking about.

I suppose if I stick around long enough, that will happen.  There's a battle in my head.  I idea of starting a growing family and having a baby has been floating around in my mind for a while...husband man's too.  We have a few things we'd like to do first, but we're close to that decision.  But then the bigger decision of whether I stay home or come back to school has to be made.  It's what makes me hesitate about having a baby.  I want both.  I want to be a good Mom and be able to care for my children, but I want to be a good teacher.  I don't want to walk away once I finally get a handle on this crazy Autism disability.  What if I put all of this time and energy into learning how to teach these kids and then just walk away from it?  I'm not okay with that right now.  Most people know one way or the other what they want to do.  I thought I knew. This job changed that.  I know what my family and friends are expecting me to do.  Sometimes I think that's the only reason I would pick that....because I don't know if they would be okay if I chose something else.  But that's a later decision for a day that's not even close.

Now, I'm packing my bag; going home; walking my dog in the rain, and yes, making a casserole for my little tiny family of two....oh, after I go to the Dollar Tree to pick up a large eraser that K was supposed to get for a reward last week :(

Happy Teaching!



the [yucky] side of autism...

For the most part, any time a student (one considered "regular" or "special needs") changes environments this thing called a "honeymoon period" occurs.  The length of the honeymoon depends on the student. Kids with Autism can and cannot fall into this category.  For the most part, you'll have at least a few days of great behavior and you'll swear this new student is awesome.  And then the honeymoon ends.

Last Wednesday (yes, it's only been one week since I started my own room...) K entered our school and was placed in my room.  He has an Autism/MR diagnosis and he's reading most words on a first grade level but not usually comprehending; he can do wonders in math when given a calculator. He LOVES playing computer games and his DS.  Both are allowed to be used during breaks and are usually what we picks.  He had a great start last week and I was surprised to see where he was at and how well he was behaving.  Prior to his arrival the "horror stories" about his fits and destruction came to me.  I do my best to take them lightly because 1 (it's pride) but I want to give the chance to do well with me because I want to be that good of a teacher and 2 who wouldn't want a clean slate when they went to a new place.

This week the honeymoon ended.  The stories were true.  For the first time I watched first hand how terribly controlling and angry an autistic fit is. Monday came with two trips to the quiet room both required multiple adult escorts.  He ripped his worksheets over and over and over; broke pencils; threw pencils; kicked his shoes off; and spit :)  I was spit on and he hit my leg a few times but we all survived and laughed about the ending of the honeymoon.  Newbie teacher only got 2 good days :)  funny, right?!

We had two rounds of it today.  Today he hit my jaw.  And he bit my arm.  And he bit my aide's arm.  He didn't break skin but I've got a great headache and my aide has an awesome full mouth bite mark on his arm.  It took three adult men in the therapeutic hold.  It broke my heart.  And yet they tell me this is the best way to teach him that he needs to stay in the classroom and complete his work when asked.

Everyone has their thoughts and opinions about how to handle it.  I'm trying to listen to them mainly because they have been here longer. Some of the things I do not understand and it's so backwards of what I feel like I want to do.  The plan is to keep K in the room and remove everyone else when he is having a fit; I guess it avoids him escaping the room.  So I think I'm going to create a "leave the room" box/bag/bucket because today we were out of our room for over 30 minutes and I was very flustered.

I'm going to clean up my room.  Fill their folders for tomorrow.  I'm going home.  I'm going to walk my dog and ask husband man if we can go eat Chinese tonight. Tomorrow I will come back.  Because good day, bad day, terribly ugly day, that's what I do.  I always come back.  Today I don't know why I'm here.  Possibly because there aren't very many teachers that really want to teach in an alternative ed Autism school.  I'm understanding that more.  But it might also be because God thinks I can handle it.  I think He's a bit nuts; and I'm not going to lie, having never been in a fist fight before I think I need to learn some moves!

It's amazing to me how physically exhausting teaching can be.  Unless you've done it, I don't know that you can understand it.  My brain hurts, my body hurts, my heart aches, and I'm tired.  Tomorrow we get to do it all over again....

....except K has an appointment and won't be here tomorrow :)  good or bad, I'm a little bit relieved about that!

How was your Wednesday?  Do you have any physical wound stories?  Or any room destruction stories?  Or any words of encouragement?!

Happy Teaching!