Just for kicks, I figured I’d share with you a blow by blow of a random day in my job. Let’s go for today, which was a little nuttier than usual but not as bad as yesterday. (Yesterday, for the record, involved an impromptu haircut, a flying lunch bag, a punch to my stomach and perhaps the year’s strongest tantrum. Which was actually thrown by an aide.)
8:00 Arrive, tramp upstairs to the office. Uncle L., a paraprofessional so fabulous I’ve dragged him with me to three different schools, is already there, ready to work, despite the fact that his report time is actually 8:30. I caught him last week cleaning the staff fridge at 7:45. I am going to cry buckets when he retires this June.
Someone has, once again, helpfully closed my storage closet door. My storage closet door locks, but has no key. Blocked from 90% of my materials until I get a chance to sweet talk the secretary into lending me the schoolwide master, I change my morning reading lesson and steal push pins from the fourth grade teacher.
8:20 Yard duty. Yet, also bus duty. Yet, also, impromptu parent conference and field trip trouble-shooting. Walking past one thing I’m supposed to do in order to get to the thing that might start honking, I say a quick prayer of thanks when I notice that Uncle L.’s work day still hasn’t started yet, but he’s already got half the kids off the bus.
8:30: Bell rings. 147 children line up quickly and quietly, ready for the day. One child lays down flat on the play structure, singing Broadway showtunes under her breath. Guess which kid is mine.
8:31: Mini-conference with Broadway Showtunes about the right thing to do when the bell rings.
8:32: Behavior Support Plan allows for one minute and one additional adult prompt to transition Broadway Showtunes before consequences kick in. Intervention is designed to minimize adult attention and emphasize natural cause/effect relationships: hover out of sight in proximity, waiting for Good Choices and tracking time off next recess. Inevitably, Broadway Showtunes gets bored without an audience and trudges into class.
8:34 Seethe quietly while Well-Meaning Adult showers Broadway Showtunes with attention and sweetly coaxes her to go to class. Cuz those adorable special children just don’t understand what to do when the bell rings.
8:47: Stick copy of Behavior Support Plan into overflowing mailbox of Well-Meaning Adult.
9:10-9:30: Retrieve Child A (flapping arms excitedly behind ears) and Child B (staring politely into space with hands folded) from reading lessons which are two grade levels beyond them, and use a stretchy blue band to demonstrate phonemic segmentation of CVC words. Child B raises hand, waits turn, and offers to write extra words. Child A attempts to stretch the word “booty” and wants nothing more than to use Learning Tools as slingshots. Strangely, Child B receives a much larger snack at conclusion of lesson.
10:20-10:40 : Conference with another inclusion support teacher about upcoming triennial. While, of course, walking the recess yard sideways holding a hula hoop in both hands: the other end’s attached to a child in a wheelchair.
10:40 : Diaper time!
11:00 : Support child who is functioning at a 36-month level in math lesson on place value up to the hundred millions.
11:40 Head to 5th grade with the intention of spending a few minutes in Broadway Showtunes’ classroom.
11:41 Someone pulls the fire alarm.
11:41:30 Run downstairs carrying a fourth grader with cerebellar ataxia: wheelchair’s too heavy and we can’t use the elevator during emergencies.
11:45 Surprise visit from entire district’s assistive technology team, who are warmly invited to follow me as I continue carrying one of their clients to the designated meet-up zone. Am tragically unable to help with their supply inventory, due to all the voice output devices being possibly on fire in a building that no-one can enter just yet.
12:00 Drop 4th grader off at lunch and bring AT folks up for inventory. Helpfully, they are able to meet our other main AT user when he gets sent to my office for a med check–his support staff has noticed the kind of droopiness that sometimes precedes or follows a seizure.
12:10 Parent phone call reveals that kid stayed out too late last night.
12:30 Drag bowling set to recess yard. Don’t ask. It’s a structured social intervention thing.
1:20 Kindergarten para is called away for her own sick kid, leaving long-suffering teacher alone with 24 kids, 2 autism spectrum disorders, a random side order of emotional disturbance, and six-station Center Time. Am called to help out as I’m returning from recess. Because another para is absent, everyone else is on lunch break, and kids with major seizure disorder can’t be left with just the gen ed teacher, I wheel Niki towards kindergarten. As she heads to her lunch break, a paraprofessional asks if I need help. You know how, as a teacher, you find yourself saying the absolute weirdest things in the everyday business of doing your job? “Stick the bowling set in the elevator on your way out, please.”
1:25-2:20 Surprisingly enough, a fourth grader in a wheelchair with a really severe articulation disorder is not the most Calming Influence on a kindergarten class.
2:20-3:00 Restore bowling set to rightful position. Translate reading log into Spanish for Child A’s family. Throw one child on the bus, make an appearance at another child’s birthday celebration, prep for parent conference and write in communication books. While simultaneously supporting a completely different child at the 1:1 level.
3:00-4:00 Parent/teacher conference.
4:45: Relax with a stiff drink.