Friday, August 5, 2011

Dear Meryt

Dear Meryt,

I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that next week you will be a kindergartener. I knew this day would come. I've anticipated it for so long and I am beyond excited for you! I know you are going to absolutely love school. I just can not imagine what it will be like. The types of stories you will tell in the afternoon. Helping you with your homework. Working on projects with you. Taking you to cultural events. Washing and hanging your uniforms. The kids that are going in to 5th grade called you "baby Meryt" because you were so little when I taught them. It will be so weird for you to transition from calling all the adults I'm closest to "Mrs. First Name" to "Mrs. Last Name." We've been working on it, but I know there will be times when you just can't help calling your dance teacher "Mrs. Lindsay" or your first baby sitter "Miss Jana."

You are literally a {School Name} baby. You've been in that building since you were born. In fact, I was so proud of you that we stopped by to show you off to the office staff on our way home from the hospital. You were barely 2 days old and you were in that building! Last year, Daddy brought you to me almost every afternoon. In so many ways, you are probably the best prepared kindergartener--as far as knowing what to expect. You've just about seen it all!

I wonder if you're anxious. Do you feel confident? Do you wonder about the kids in your class? Do you feel any tension at all about the subtle shift that is going to take place next week in your life? This is really the first big "milestone" in your life. The first day of school. This will never happen again. I will never be able to say, "She's going to kindergarten next year." It's here. It's time.

I am so excited for you. I want this to open up a whole new world for you...a world of new facts, new experiences, new challenges. You are, truly, standing at the beginning of an incredible journey. I want this to be the fullest, most wonderful time of your life. It's amazing to me, that after 11 years of teaching, I'm the most excited about this year of any I've ever taught. I want for my students the same thing I want for you--the best experience possible. I have you to thank for invigorating me in a new and exciting way!

I love you, precious girl. I absolutely can not wait to see how this goes for you.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Some public school thoughts...


My goodness.

My public school teacher heart is hurting right now!

I've heard more than one time, two times, three times, lately about how parents feel they need to pull their special needs kids out of public schools and home school them or find alternative schooling options for their kids. What in the world is going on here? It is our job as public educators to educate every single child that comes through our program. It is our job to FIND WHAT WORKS for these kids.

One thing I just read that was super discouraging was that the special needs kid was out of the classroom receiving so much "support" that he wasn't getting the academics he needed. How can that be? Why aren't the specialist going into the classroom to help him so he's being double teamed? What happened to co-teaching? If a child is able to be in a regular ed classroom for his/her academics, but needs support, why is that not happening for him/her?

I'll be honest. I'm just a regular teacher. I absolutely do not know the ins and outs of Autism, Speech Delays, Dyslexia, ODD, ADHD...I can't. It's my job to know the standards that are required for completion of kindergarten and make sure my kids can do those! When I'm overwhelmed by the special needs of some of my students, it's my job to call in the experts.

Is that a process? Yes!
Does it take a long time? YES! Sometimes too long!

It disturbs me greatly that parents are pulling their kids out of public education because we aren't meeting their academic needs. I think sometimes parents expect the public school system to do TOO much. But it is our job to educate the public. To provide for the educational needs of every single child that comes to us for service. Have I wanted to pull out my hair before because of one of my students? You can bet your very last dollar I have! Have I been frustrated beyond exasperation because of something that's gone on or a difference I have with a parent? YES! But at the end of the day, the end of the year, it's my job to teach. And it's my job to work with parents to make sure that happens. I hate that parents who have children with specific needs don't feel like the school system is meeting them where they are or working with them to make the experience the best it can be for their children.