Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Stay tuned for further blogging...

I hope everyone (uh, anyone still out there?) had a fabulous Turkey Day!!! 9 days off was just what the doctor ordered. Unfortunately it had to come to an end only to be SWAMPED with assignments, projects, papers, reflections, and final exams over the next two weeks week and & half. Therefore, blogging is on the back burner for now.

Happy December!!!

Peace & Love,

Monday, November 22, 2010

A week off = Heaven


I dont think I had ever been more ready to peel out of town than I was on Friday. After a delicious lunch at Mellow Mushroom with two of my biffles, I was highway bound for Atlanta. After a few days here at home, my Mom's whole side of the family will gather at our lakehouse for some bonfire's on the beach, boat riding, marshmallow roasting, football playing, Dam touring, gingerbread house making, Elf & Grinch watching, (hopefully) some shell shooting, hiking, and not to mention some Turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, etc, EATING. :)

We have had Thanksgiving at the lake for the past 7 years, this year being the 8th. Here are some pictures from years past :)         

2/3 of the boy cousins

(Apparently we didnt take any pictures in 05)

All the cousins
Seester & I
 The leaves on this tree are absolute perfection every year

Mysteriously missing 2 cousins.



I am so thankful for all the people and things in these pictures and MORE than thankful to have a week off! Can't wait to add pictures to the collection from this year :) Hope everyone has a FABULOUS Thanksgiving!!

Peace & Love,

Sunday, November 14, 2010

War Eagle, fearless & true :)

I may or may not have become obsessed with Auburn, Alabama over the past few years. After visiting my best friend freshman year and at least once a year after that, I have fallen in love. The traditions and the atmosphere and the FOOTBALL, make me so happy. I am hoping to go to grad school there so i'm not just one of those wannabe fans who doesnt have a "real" connection with the school. And also because they have a really good communication disorders program as well as an early childhood special education program. Which one I will choose...I dont know. Anywho, it was such a fun weekend. Not to mention the Tigers are now 11-0 and SHIP BOUND TO ATL. Because my phone is not uploading the pictures I took, here is a ballin video for your viewing pleasure (or not if you are a member of the Cool family :) Sorry guys)

Auburn Football 2010 Tunnel Video

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My first IEP Experience

I wish I had the time/energy/brain power to update more often so that maybe this right here blog might be more exciting/interesting for y'all. However...that is not the case.

Last week, I had the privilege of attending my first IEP meeting. For those of you who are not familiar with the term IEP, it stands for Individualized Education Program/Plan. Basically, each child who recieves special education services has one of these, and it is tailored to that child's needs based on his or her abilities. A meeting occurs once a year to discuss the child's progress (or lack thereof in some cases), strategies for improvement, and sometimes, the child may be dismissed from special education services because he or she is doing so well academically and no longer requires special education services :)

So my host teacher had an IEP meeting scheduled for 2pm for Christopher* who, if I remember correctly, was EBD (Emotional Behavior Disorder) before the IEP took place. During the IEP, it was discussed to change it to Autism, as the teachers and others present felt it applied better to Christopher. Changing the disability on the IEP does not change services provided for the student. So anyway, 2pm comes around, and we were all in the "life skills" room, as I have begun to call it, celebrating another students birthday with cake and entertainment (the birthday girl was born in Mexico, and showed us some, uh, rather risque salsa moves? I'm not really sure what kind of dance style it was. BTW, this student has Down syndrome and is fluent in both Spanish & English! Impressive!) The lead teacher, Mrs. M, celebrated with us for awhile before she had to get ready for/attend the meeting in the other classroom (that the class is blessed to have.) I hung out in the Life Skills room until Christopher's parent arrived because Mrs. M was going to come get Christopher and I when they were done discussing the real-teacher-and-important-people-stuff. Welllllll it was about 2:30 when Mrs. B (a parapro) had gone to the other classroom and come back, and I asked her if Christopher's parent was here yet. She responded "Yeah, she's been here." No big deal, I thought, Mrs. M just probably forgot to come get us. So Christopher stands up to go to the other classroom (the student CAN attend the meeting if the teacher/parent wishes) and I stopped him before he opened the door, because I knew that Mrs. M would have come to get him if needed. So he turned around and walked back to his seat, but the last few steps he made a point to stomp. Hmmm.

So after a few minutes I went over to the classroom where the meeting was being held and Mrs. M appologized that she forgot to come get me. Chris's parent had decided it would be best if he did not attend the meeting. So I grapped my notebook & started to take notes, listening to Christopher's mother go through each of his "milestones." Y'ALL. This child...oh my GOSH. He has seriously been through hell and back. Up until the age of 4, he had been hitting all the normal milestones; he was walking at 9 months and reading at 4. Around the age of 4, I guess his parent(s?) felt it necessary to have him evaluated for ADD/ADHD. He was diagnosed with ADHD and put on Ritalin. After awhile, he was then diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. He then began having grand mal seizures..one of which was so bad that he was unconsious afterwards for...wait for it...wait for it...TWENTY EIGHT HOURS. His mom said that when he woke up after those 28 hours, he was the child he is today. And let me tell you about the child he is today...

When he was in 1st or 2nd grade he had an AWFUL episode during which he was so defiant/angry/innapropriate/whatever word describes behavior bad enough for the school to call an AMBULANCE. The ambulance took him to Macon where doctors ordered for him to spend 72 hours at Central State Hospital. If you are not familiar with Central State...well, that is probably a good thing. Lets just say it is currently in the process of being shut down because it was in no way beneficial to anyone who went there, especially Christopher. While there, Christopher picked up on all the usual cuss words, derogatory terms for racial groups, and other obscenities. All of this has a lot to do with the following part of my story, I promise.

Back to the IEP meeting. While listening to the teachers talk about plans for Chris, Ms. B, came into the room to get/do something. She told us that Christopher was upset because I had told him that he wasnt to come into the classroom yet. Great. We werent quite aware of HOW upset until Mrs. M walked over to the Life Skills room to tell him he could come to the other classroom. At that point, he replied "Good. I dont want to be in here with these f***ing n***ers" (all of the parapros and some of the students are black. And I only know this part because the parapro's told me.) He followed Mrs. M back to the classroom where we were having the meeting, and immediately we knew it was about to hit the fan. He dropped the F bomb almost every other word, and when Mrs. M asked him a question, he replied "None of your damn business. Leave me f***ing alone." Ohhhhh SHOOT. He also called Mrs. M a B word to her face, and I'm sure there were tons of other insanely inappropriate things said, I was just so shocked/scared/uncomfortable that I dont remember all that was said. He also threw papers off of his desk and onto the floor, and when exiting the classroom to go home with his (saint of a) parent, he slammed the door so hard that I jumped, even though I knew it was coming. Any harder and the glass in the door would have shattered.


Quite an experience to say the least. Yet another reason I wanted to record my experiences. Because doctors obviously dont know exactly how to help Christopher because he has characteristics of many disabilities, I feel pretty confident I won't come across many students like him throughout my teaching career.

There are so many other things I could say about this student's background and other details that happened, but clearly I have already made a novel out of this, so perhaps I will save that for another post. Hope you guys are still awake going to keep reading my ramblings after this one :)

Peace & Love

*Name has been changed to protect child's privacy.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Patience is a virtue...

*this is a long post. so if your in a hurry, you should probably just come back later :)

I remember my grandfather quoting this proverb to me a VERY long time ago. I have no earthly idea as to why or in what context, but I do know that it has seriously stuck with me since then. I find myself using it all the time while hanging out with my dog (pathetic and weird you say? why yes. probably so) because she has such an insane amount of energy and is always ready to move onto the next thing at speeds that I cannot even fathom. Anywho, I find myself relating this insanely brilliant proverb to many aspects of my life right now. Not only do I HAVE to use it while I am in the schools with kids, but my most recent epiphany (brace yourselves Mom & Dad...this is mature stuff right here) is that patience is essentially a way of life. So often I find myself beyooooond frustrated in so many aspects of my life (lack of a boyfriend, anyone? losing the freshman **??? This number is obviously for my knowledge only). Sure, I can speed things up with losing weight, but only to a certain extent. And I am pretty sure that I should leave the whole "boyfriend" thing up to God. I'm confident that he knows what he's doing.

When I have told people that know me pretty well that I am majoring in Special Education, they all kind of seem to get quiet and just nod their heads in approval. Because, you know, thats the socially correct thing to do and everything. With which I respond "I know, its really weird seeing as I am a pretty impatient person. (laughing & joking around may ensue) But I have just loved working with them so far and I actually have more patience for students in Special Education than I do for general ed students" which, i'm sure if you asked some of my classmates, they would probably agree that this is the case for them as well. Most people who arent familiar with these children would say they dont know any better when they misbehave or act like they dont know the answer...quite the contrary my friends, quite the contrary.

STORY TIME! For example, last week while working one-on-one with one of my (favorite) students Kristin* on a Dora the Explorer numbers worksheet (mind you she is probably about 14 or 15...the students are more likely to participate when it involves something they know/love), Kristin decided that she "didnt know" what number came after 2...and then again the number that came after 5. One of the parapro's looked at me and said "dont let her make you think she doesnt know the answer...she does." So we sat there. And I told Kristin that we would sit there until she wrote the correct number in the blank (after 2 and 5.) So after awhile, and by awhile I mean about 5 solid minutes of Kristin (eventually) telling me what number came next but not writing the number down, I told her to look at me (in a nice voice...not one that would be used by my Mom if I were in trouble) and said "I KNOW you can write the numbers, so please do it." Y'ALL. She did it. And it was plausible. I was silently thinking to myself...OH. MY. GOSH. I know this is what I am supposed to be doing. Small victories like this are SO worth the 5 (or more) minutes of practicing said proverb written (way) above. High fives and "thumbs up" were then rewarded in abundancy as Kristin looooves to be given a thumbs up, and absolutely laughs her face off when you high five her & act like it really hurt your hand. Once again...the little things in life :)

*names have been changed for the protection of privacy. and so I do not face a law suit of some sort.