Today was a good day. Today, a few things happened that shouldn't have surprised me. I was surprised though...pleasantly surprised. I shouldn't be surprised when decisions are made that put kids first and when everyone steps up and does their jobs. I'm likely the problem. I'm getting cynical and crusty in my old age. It is not that I expect the worst. I'm just usually prepared for anything. If I'm going to be disappointed, I'd prefer not to be surprised too.
I wasn't disappointed today.
I was teaching math. The students were gathered around the SmartBoard for the whole class instruction portion of our lesson. That's when our district's new behaviorist came into the room to observe one of my students. She didn't interrupt my teaching. Instead, she waited until I had sent the kids off to work and then approached me to ask some questions. Despite the fact that she hadn't yet met my student, she'd read his IEP and safety plan and her questions were 100% appropriate and thoughtful. She had clearly done her homework. This boy really is thriving right now. She could have received that information from me, turned on her heel, and headed out to tend to more pressing cases. She didn't. She continued to observe and question. She was doing her job. I found her to be impressive. This was a positive change for our district. The last behaviorist was entirely ineffective.
As I finished up with the behaviorist I noticed that the ELL teacher was standing at my door with one of my students who she sees a few times a week. This kid is a very smart boy. He has been in the country for approximately four years. You would never guess this. His spoken English is automatic, grammatically correct, and confident. He has grade level math skills. He is struggling with his reading. His greatest difficulty is with accuracy. When he comes upon a word he doesn't immediately know, he very often inserts any word with the same initial sound. So, the word "communities" is read as "countries." This student has tremendous listening comprehension. Yet, he is unwilling to stop and struggle even when the text doesn't make sense. The ELL teacher wanted to share this observation of his reading behavior with me and wanted me to participate in the conversation with the student. This doesn't always happen. I get it, it is hard for specialists and classroom teachers to find the time to confer with one another. However, this specialist brought me into the circle today so that we could work together to best help a student. This is what should happen all the time.
Meanwhile, in the classroom, the academic tutor and one to one aide worked the room ensuring that every child was getting the support he or she needed. I was tied up for ten to fifteen minutes yet the students remained engaged in their math task and were productively working. This wasn't a surprise. These two women show up every day and work hard for our students.
Finally, we've been dealing with a sticky situation with a one to one aide. At the beginning of the school year, a different aide serviced a child in my room. She is a veteran aide with a gigantic heart. She adores the student to whom she is assigned. A month and a half into the school year she began to suffer with debilitating back pain. She was in agony and her pain compromised her ability to effectively do her job. For example, she could not work with this student on the floor and could not supervise her on the stairs. After suffering for some time, she took a leave from school. She is slated to return, after being out of school since the second week of October. I have many concerns about her return. I worry first about her mobility and safety at school. I wonder about how effectively she'll do her job. I wonder how long she'll be able to sustain her position or if the pain will return requiring another leave. I worry about the student's ability to adapt to change again and if we'll see a set back as she transitions to another change in staff. In the end, I hoped that we would consider the needs of the student first. Today my principal let me know that the district will place the returning aide in a classroom support role where she can work with small groups of students while safely seated. Her mobility and potential effectiveness in her previous role will be evaluated. again at Christmastime. I know she'll be heartbroken and I feel so badly about that but I am so happy that my principal and Director of Special Ed. are putting the student first even though it is tricky business.
Honestly, today was a day filled with happy surprises. Kids were put first all day long. Everyone showed up and worked hard for our students. Decisions were made in the best interest of the kids. Today was an excellent day.