Thursday, September 8, 2011

First Day of Kindergarten

Max is a friend magnet. He made so many friends his first day. He is compliant and polite. He loves the three aquatic turtles in his classroom. He told me that if he knew how fun kindergarten would be he would have wanted to go there earlier and we wouldn't have been so nervous. 

Madeleine had a very hard drop off. In fact, I couldn't drop off.  She clung to me shaking, sobbing. She was terrified. I stayed with her for a while and then Michael came and hung out with her. Eventually, an hour after school started he was able to leave her.

Rachel, Mad's kindergarten teacher, started the morning off with having the kids come to the carpet and sit in a circle.  She asked if anyone knew what the word, "unique" meant. Some students volunteered answers like "it means fancy" or "special". Rachel totally went with it. And told them we are all unique and have to get to know each other and what makes us special. She discussed her own unique things and talked about others that she knew. She asked if someone wanted to share what is unique about them. A few students raised their hands, Mad was one of them. She complimented Madeleine on raising her hand well and being patient and then asked what she would like to share.

Madeleine's words:
"You see this thing on my leg? I have to wear it because I was missing a bone in my leg, the fiblia (fibula). My leg didn't grow very well when I was in my mom's belly and now I wear this and I have to wear it everyday.  It is called a prosthesis. I can hop really well. (to Rachel...) May I get up and show the kids how I can hop?"

She proceeded to do Tree Pose and then hopped all around the room and then it was done.

Since then other kids have asked.... she is tired of the questions. I will go in next week and talk to all the other classes.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

professional blog

I have a professional blog that I never post on. It seems that I'm too busy as a professional to even have time to professionally blog. If I write on this blog it goes out to all the parents at the school and anyone on the PTSA list serve. That is a lot of people and a lot of pressure. When you blog professionally you have to be appropriate (which is sometimes hard for me), spell check, grammar check and realize that you are going to get feedback... both positive and negative.  I'm suppose to write on this blog as it is an unwritten suggestion of the school. Teaching at a 21st century school means that you should be blogging just like your students are. I'm also suppose to write on it because I'm an advocate for special education. I'm the only special ed teacher at the school and with that comes responsibility to educate, advocate, promote etc.  I think special education is a very misunderstood banner.  I tell people I teach special ed and they think I put in feeding tubes and clean up poop all day. They say, 'wow, you are a saint' or "sheesh, that must be hard".  In reality I work with some of the most delightful kids. Ones who want to overcome their dyslexia, ADHD or understand why and what the autism spectrum is.  Sure, I get refusals to work. I get an occasional fuck you. But who doesn't? I understand that the refusals and the fuck yous represent fear, misunderstanding, confusion etc.  I try to figure out what the behavior is saying that the kid can't.

I work like a physician. This is what I tell the kids. If you have a rash or a cough and you go to the doctor they have to figure out what it is that is making you sick and what medicine will make you better. My job is similar, I find out why the kid can't read. What is it that is getting stuck and then I find the right curriculum to help him read. Sometimes I have to try different things. Sometimes it doesn't work as well as I'd like but sometimes it is just what the doctor ordered. And a veil is lifted. And the kid figures it out. And he his self-esteem jumps so high and he feels like he can do anything, because he can. And then I sit back and say, "wow, my job rocks".

So, I need to blog today. I need to introduce myself to the community and help them to understand special education and what it means. I hope to clean up misconceptions and open eyes to behaviors and learning styles. 

But, I'm also going to do something else today. I'm going to explain Madeleine. I'm going to tell everyone what happened. I'm going to tell them what it is like to be her mom. I know, I've told this story countless times but I'm going to put it out there for the world so that Madeleine maybe doesn't have to explain her leggie again. So that parents can talk to their kid about her leg in an educative and supportive way. I'm going to put it out there so others may understand that Madeleine's "disability" is on the outside but there are many kiddos whose disability is on the inside and you may not see it until that kid has a meltdown. And before you think, "God, what is up with THAT kid" or "where are his parents?" you will think, maybe he has a disability and cannot control his emotion and the way that child X is struggling with reading on the inside Child Y is struggling with emotion regulation and that he can't control it any better than X can control his dyslexia.

I'm going to write a professional blog post here, in my supportive and private place ;)
And then copy it there (insert hyperlink to prof. blog here).

Feel free to tell me what you think.... it will go out later today or tomorrow.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

I forgot

Tonight we had our "Back To School" night or "Ice Cream Social" or "Open House" or whatever it is called. My children are fortunate to go to a school in a great neighborhood, with a great principal and staff, with great families etc.

I have worked at QAE since last year and believe whole heartedly in the mission, the goals, the curriculum, the staff, blah blah blah.  I have known that Max and Mad would go there for a awhile and I have hoped that they would for a year. 

So, tonight was back to school night and I was full of anticipation and excitement. I couldn't wait to show Michael and the twins the new digs. Couldn't wait to see some of my students that I have missed throughout the summer. I was happy to show off our new building. Usually this is my favorite time of the year. For reals.

Tonight something unexpected happened. Madeleine was introduced to her peers and not all of them welcomed her with open arms as they usually do in my dreams. They were perplexed with her leg. They were wondering what it was. Some tried to touch it. Some asked incessant questions. Some just stared with open mouths and disgusted looks. It broke my heart. My heart continues to break as I sit here. I have cried more tonight than I have in a while.  I just forgot. I forgot that people would be surprised. I forgot that people didn't know.

Adults ask me about it and I'm surprised that they don't know. Some are so clueless they actually say, "What's up with her leg?"  I know it is because they don't anticipate I will say, "It's a prosthesis. She was born with a birth defect and had her foot amputated at a year." They look at me shocked and apologize.

I wonder if some people who see someone in a wheel chair, "What's up with the chair?"
Or with someone with autism, "what's up with the hand flapping?"
Or with someone who walks with arm crutches, "What's up with the sticks?"

I forgot. I have to explain. I have to worry again if people will accept my little girl. I have to worry about her feelings getting hurt because no one wants to play with her. I have to worry about little girls not wanting to be her friend.  Fuck.

Madeleine will have to explain too. She told me today that she missed the EEU. She missed her teachers knowing. She missed the kids.

I know this is an adjustment and things will work out. I'm feeling blind-sighted and angry. And, of course, a little sad.

Here we go again.....