Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Day 60

So. . .lots to reflect on! This week at school we are celebrating Braille Awareness in honor of the bicentennial birthday of Louis Braille, and I've learned more about Braille the last two days than I have all year. We've had great participation from the students and families, and it's encouraging to see how they are supporting Zack. Zack has had a really rough past few days with his behavior, and the vision team is wondering if he is being pushed too hard and in need of more breaks. He's been defiant and disrespectful (not to me, thank goodness!), and he's missing out on some fun activities because of it. I hope they can get to the bottom of it for his sake and for their sake. . .they were tired at the end of the day today! Zack's lead teacher told me something interesting yesterday--she said Zack doesn't think he's blind. She'll hold something out, say, "What is this," and he'll grab it and figure it out. She said she doesn't think he has a concept of sight or that he's missing anything. . .I guess that's a good thing, right? We'll see how he does tomorrow. Maybe he's just needing a break like the other kids are. . .

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Day 50-something

So I have been out sick two days and caught in a whirlwind to finish my other class and start a new tutoring job. . .I am a distracted researcher! We are doing Braille Awareness week at school next week, and I'm really excited. My class is getting t-shirts donated by Zack's family (the staff and students can purchase them), and we're going to do different activities throughout the week. I am going to pull some of the books from the website previously listed on the blog, and I hope we can make steps to continue to narrow the gap between Zack and the other students. Our story in literacy today was about Braille (just a coincidence), and Zack came in just for the story. I'm not sure how much of it he was paying attention to. . .I think he has some of my germs, and when he doesn't feel good, it shows in his behavior. Hopefully tomorrow he will be back to himself. I'm anxious to see how it all goes next week (and this week with the preparations). I feel very much a part of it all as I am the only elementary classroom teacher with a blind student. . .kind of cool to have had the experience so far!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Days 52 and 53

I think I'm finally getting the hang having a full-time inclusion student, and then I go and forget to give the homework packet to the vision teacher when I'd had it for over a week. . .I'm still not 100% remembering all the pieces, but it's as smooth as I think it could be. One thing I have to admit I'm loving is having an adult perspective on everything from specials classes to how it went with a substitute. It's interesting to hear about your class from a different point of view! Zack's lead teacher went to a big training on Friday, and she wants Zack doing our full math program with us. He has been doing math every day with us, but she wants to braille all of the materials and things. Math seems to be a strong point for him, so we'll see how that goes. I was home sick today, so I don't have too much to say. When I was starting to lose my voice yesterday, though, Zack didn't recognize me when I said good morning to him--he asked me who I was. :) Then every time I spoke to him throughout the day, he'd tell me I had a frog in my throat. . .he makes me laugh! I guess a kid who is very in-tune to sounds would notice a froggy voice more than the other kids!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Day 51 and Halloween party

Zack's normal teacher was pulled to be with another student this morning, and so he was in with me with the teacher he had at the beginning of the year. He is a different child with each of them, and I like him much better with my normal/regular teacher! He gets away with a whole lot more talking and questioning when the teacher from the beginning of the year is with him, and I am SO thankful we had the change--I don't think I would enjoy him as much if it hadn't happened! He enjoyed our Halloween party and did all the crafts and activities with a little assistance from his step-mom. He was dressed as a firefighter, and I got to meet his mom and maternal grandparents today. He is definitely a well-loved, thriving and happy kid. I'm proud to see how well he is fitting in with the class!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Snow Day!

So I'm sitting at home nice and warm instead of working with my kids today, but I forgot to mention two really fun ideas brought up by Zack's grandfater at the IEP. Cool idea number one: softball for blind kids and teenagers is apparently all the rage! The bases are each created to make a distinct sound (first sounds different from second, etc.), and the ball has its own sound. The kids play the game completely by sound. . .how can that work? All I could imagine as I was listening was the idea of catching. . .does a sound-making ball coming quickly at you allow you catch it? Is it possible to do that without sight? Are the mitts different? I'm going to see what I can find on Google, but I thought that was cool. Zack's grandfather wanted to talk about it as a possibility for the future with his adaptive PE teacher.
Fun idea number two: wrestling for blind teenagers. The blind students wrestle with sighted kids, and the only rule change is that contact must always be kept. Apparently the one blind wrestler in Greeley is VERY fast!
So, I had to take a minute to stop my cozy reading to share. I'm curious to find out more!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Days 49 and 50

I am breathing a HUGE sigh of relief as I type today. . .it has been an awkward few days, but I think everything has finally blown over. Thankfully, the vision teachers listened to my feelings of discomfort about the situation, and they visited with the teacher Zack was having trouble with and also briefly with the principal. The teacher talked with Zack's step mom (she caught her in the hall on the way to the IEP) and to the vision teacher who was in the class with the disruptions. The next day, the afternoon literacy instruction and classroom management was apparently top-notch. I made a point to mention to my teammate this morning that the vision teacher was impressed with her teaching and management on the day after the incident, and I am SO hopeful it stays this way. I am so thankful the vision teachers stepped up to take care of the situation so that I could simply act as a concerned teacher and teammate and NOT as a supervisor. Hopefully we're all set for smooth sailing the rest of the year. . .I don't want to go down that road again!
Zack's IEP went great on Tuesday, and his family is very pleased with everything. It was nice to hear encouraging words from his parents and grandparents and the vision team about the environment in my classroom for Zack. I am really glad I have learned as much as I have about interacting with students who are blind as I think it has helped me to adapt much better to Zack. I took a quick look at the website, and I'm really excited to look at it. The book list is a great idea--I may go to the library this weekend and see what I can find to help the class continue to learn and respect and build friendships with Zack. Maybe if it snows I can play on it during the day. . .we'll see!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Day 48

So Zack was with me for all of literacy today, and he did great as far as paying attention, sitting appropriately and interacting with the class. I've noticed he has a habit of echoing or copying other kids and even me. . .his teacher is great at re-directing him to help him understand the question or assignment. Hmm. . .so a situation came up that made me thankful I haven't made the blog public. Zack is working with a different classroom teacher (along with his vision teacher) during the afternoon literacy block (I was teaching it until last week), and things aren't going so smoothly. There are some management issues in the other classroom that are causing some big distractions for Zack and are negatively impacting his learning. His step-mom came in to watch today (she comes a few times a month) and observed during the literacy block with the other teacher, and she was not happy. She and the vision teacher described the problem to me, and I am feeling very much in the middle. As his classroom teacher, the parent liaison and the other teacher's teammate who wants her to succeed, it is my job to pass this information along so she can correct or improve the situation. (I'm assuming it's my job--I would want someone to do it for me rather than go over my head). I'm especially concerned about what will happen if things don't change after she is made aware of the concerns. . .what then? Who presents the concerns to our administration so the teacher can get some guidance and/or coaching and help? I am VERY uncomfortable in this position! Hopefully I'm making too much out of it. . .but then the vision team and parents are upset and concerned. . .this is completely new territory for me and something I did NOT expect with having Zack in my class. . .we'll see! Maybe it will all come out in his IEP meeting tomorrow and I will be off the hook. . .