Thursday, April 28, 2011

Oh sweet freedom!

As of 8:00 MST tonight, I am officially done with the semester from hell. I'm giddy with excitement and yet there is still some residual anxiety left over...phantom anxiety, as it were. I keep thinking I need to do something and I have to remind myself that no, Kelly, there's nothing left to be done. It's okay to veg and just take it easy for a while.

I've been thinking about the past semester, particularly my Special Education classes. It's made me question if I want to continue with SpEd or go a different route. I loved my general education classes and my middle school placement, but my elementary SpEd placement was torture for so many reason. Remember this? Well, my last day in the class my mentor teacher tells me she doesn't feel she can write an evaluation or sign my time sheet. There was all kinds of drama that I won't go into but it was just one more thing to deal with. I know, that dealing with this person shouldn't reflect on the content and methods of SpEd but I'm having a VERY difficult time separating the two.

I'm trying to figure out the best way to get where I want and need to be after I graduate. I know I need something to set me apart from all the other secondary english teachers looking for jobs but I'm not sure if SpEd is the way to go...for me. Then again...maybe I just need some time away from it and it's really where I want to end up.

...BUT for now, I'm not going to worry about it. I'm just going to worry about sleeping in, finishing unpacking boxes and hanging pictures, spending time with my family and regaining a social life. I haven't had one of those in almost a year! I may have even forgot how that works...

Any's to survival!!

I like most music except for country and rap....

How often have we all heard that line...? I know it's not "cool" to like country but I do. I like it because there's a lot of soul and faith in country music.

This gives me the chills.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

My Wish List...

I have, very nearly, survived three straight semesters of grad school. I have moved into a new apartment, my birthday is coming up. Spring is trying desperately to take hold...I feel the need to celebrate. In the past several weeks I have spent the majority of my time not in class, on the computer. Whether it be working (like right now) or homeworking (that would be later), I am pretty tied to my computer as of late. That also means I've been doing some virtual window shopping...I'm not a homework machine, I need breaks... There is this website that my dear sister introduced me to and has resulted in hours of time well spent...aka, wasted/procrastinated. Go check it out and follow ME!

But all this window shopping and pinning has resulted in me wanting to buy...lots of buying. I have thus far refrained but with my celebratory frame of mind, it's proving difficult. What should I get? Cast your vote, my friends!

1. This dress, this dress, or this dress? or maybe this dress?

2. Or maybe this necklace?

3. or this gem?

4. Lisa calls these shoes ghetto...ghetto fabulous!

5. I have yet to find the perfect pair of yellow pumps but these just might tide me over until I do..

As you see...this is a very serious problem.

What do you think blogosphere? How should I celebrate the passing of another year?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Reality Check...

Last Thursday I was visiting my SPED elementary placement and I saw something that truly disturbed me. A, normally, very sweet 7 year old had a complete and total melt down. I am not unfamiliar with young children meltdowns, I have 8 nieces and nephews and have seen my fair share of meltdowns. And even by major, nuclear, meltdown standards...what I was observing was not anywhere near that level.

When I first walked into the room I noticed this little boy, let's call him Alex, was standing in a corner apart from the rest of the group. I could tell by the glares and muttering that he was having a difficult morning. He would occasionally kick the wall or stomp a bit more loudly but he wasn't screaming, yelling, throwing objects, a danger or a distraction to any of the other 5 kids in the classroom. After about ten minutes, the teacher took him to the Time Out Room. It's roughly the size of a large porta-potty (maybe a bit bigger). It has grey padded walls, a light in the ceiling and a door with a glass window. The latch is large and made of steel but had to be held in place.

Once Alex was forced into the Time Out Room and the door shut behind him (with the light still on) he immediately lost it. He started screaming to be let out and throwing himself against the door. I was asked to hold the door closed while the teacher went back to the rest of the class. After Alex had been in there for a few minutes he started screaming obscenities that no 7 year old should know. He also threatened to kill the everyone when he got out. At this point he was throwing himself against the door with so much force that it was bumping me off the door each time he hit it. Eventually he calmed down and was let out but the rest of the morning was a complete wash for him. He wasn't in a place mentally or emotionally to learn and he lost all of his privileges for the day so he only felt worse. I'm not saying there shouldn't have been consequences for his actions but it seemed his actions didn't escalate until he was put into the Time Out Room.

This incident disturbed me on several levels:

1- As this child was screaming, yelling, and throwing himself at the walls, none of the other adults even blinked an eye. It didn't phase them. Somehow I don't think anyone should get used to a 7 year old saying "You F****in A****le!"

2- The punishment seemed disproportionate to the infraction. He didn't have a serious behavior problem until after he was put in the time out room.

3- Since when did we start putting young children in what amounts to no more than a padded cell as a means of disciplining them? What does that accomplish? Many of these kids come with a steamer trunk full of baggage and often there is a chemical component. However, I do think that some of this behavior is still learned. What are we telling them when we put them in seclusion like that? What are we telling other students?

4- There is something, deep down, about the idea of Time Out Rooms and restraints and other 'disciplinary' measures that seem wrong on basis of basic human rights.

I was so disturbed by it that I went and talked with my professor about it. In talking with her, the issue became even more appalling. What I saw it starting to become standard practice in many public school special education programs and many parents have no idea. I've been researching the issue more as part of a paper for class and what I've found is deeply disturbing.

Did you know that many states in the south, including Texas, parents have to sign a form saying teachers and administrators cannot use corporal punishment on their child?? It was a pretty big wake up call. What I saw in the classroom wasn't outright abuse but it made me intensely uncomfortable and if I were that child's parent, I would be very upset. But what goes on in public schools every day, without parent's knowledge is a frightening prospect. Google "Special Education Time Out Rooms" or "Special Education Seclusion and restraints" and you'll see what I mean.