Manic Mondays

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Mondays always bring anxiety because they are visit days. Now that Buddy only goes to daycare 3 days a week, there is even more anxiety because I’m the one who will bring him to his visits. Luckily, the visit was cancelled again!

I knew there was an issue last week, but I didn’t have details. It turns out that bio-mom brought a 13 year old to the visit with her. I guess he is the son of a friend of hers and both she and the friend have been warned that SHE is the only one allowed to attend the visits. Since he didn’t have anyone to supervise him, she would need to take the boy home. She refused and threw a major hissy fit, going off on the lady who supervises the visits. She was then asked to leave and the visit was cancelled.

Since then, the caseworker and visit supervisor wanted to set up a meeting with bio-mom to discuss her behavior, and visits would be suspended until she can agree to act like an adult. Otherwise, the caseworker would do twice monthly visits at her office. This irks me because they have threatened and threatened and threatened, but never follow through. “If she doesn’t show up one more time, we’re not going to have visits, if she acts violently one more time, we’re not going to have visits, etc.” How many chances does she get? Buddy has a doctor’s appointment next week and after she went off on me at the last appointment, I’m nervous about interacting with her again, but she’s allowed to go!

As it turns out though, nobody has been able to locate bio-mom since last Monday. She has kind of fallen off the face of the earth. She’s not living where she was living before and her phone has been disconnected. I don’t know if maybe she’s living with the guy who’s son she had with her or where she is. The caseworker is coming over to our house on Friday for a home visit and hopefully we can put a game plan together then. She said that she has been trying to get bio-mom into rehab to no eval. She doesn’t have long to get her act together… just 3 short months until the paperwork goes in to TPR!

In other news, there seems to be a good amount of Special Ed teaching jobs around in Central New York, and I have applying to all the ones I can. I can’t apply to jobs too far away from home though because we can’t move out of the county with Buddy and I can’t be commuting too far away where I wouldn’t be able to get him ready in the morning or pick him up from daycare in the evenings. I’m sure something will come along soon! In the meantime, I am thoroughly enjoying the lazy days of summer as is Buddy as you can see from this pic (you can’t tell, but he has a big smile on his face!).

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Amazing Husband

I want to start out by saying that I have the best husband in the world! It’s been a whirlwind week for us and he’s been amazing.

This week was the definition of “when it rains, it pours.” I lost my job, my husband’s step-mom is unresponsive and in the ICU, my friend’s father passed away while we were out to lunch, then my mom has an infection from her mastectomy and needed emergency surgery yesterday.

So, on a day where he should be relaxing and putting his feet up, he’s been entertaining Buddy while I visited my mom & went to a wake. To top it all off, Buddy smeared poop all over his crib when he was supposed to be napping. I had come home to change clothes & smelled the stink. Poor hubby had to clean up the mess as I ran back out the door.

My own Dad has barely left my mom’s
side throughout her ordeal and while he doesn’t get the hint when mom leaves the vacuum out, I know he tries hard!

So thank you to all the Dad’s out there who make great sacrifices for their families. You are truly appreciated!

This Is Only A Test

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If it were up to me, and it’s clearly not, there would be no tests in school. There are many ways to assess our children, but “the powers that be” decided that we should sit children down with their bright yellow, no. 2 pencils, a scantron and a multiple choice booklet and let that be the determination as to whether they are learning something or not. To the average person, that sounds like what has taken place in schools for years. Well, that doesn’t mean it’s right. Try doing that as a Special Education student and it brings along a heck of a lot more anxiety and stress on these young people.

Sixth, seventh and eighth grade students are given state tests and high schoolers are given Regents exams. So, to prepare our students for these tests, we give them, yes, that’s right, practice tests! So, along with their regular quizzes, tests and quarterly benchmark exams, they have three practice tests before the real thing. Now, most of my special ed students get double time on tests. So, if the average student gets half the day to do a test, it takes my students all day to do it. That means, that they are not only exhausted from testing all day, but they’re missing their classes during their three days of testing, putting them further and further behind.

Then there are the benchmark tests. Every quarter, students are assessed on what they’ve learned so far for the year. Well, my students need twice as long to take the tests and the tests are typically 2 days long. That means, that in their 5 core subjects, they have 5 tests that will take them 4 days each.

Now lets talk about the high school kids. There used to be RCT exams (Regents Competency Tests) that students could take, so that if they didn’t pass the regents exam, they could still get a local diploma if they pass the RCT. Well, they are phasing out the local diploma, so that is no longer an option. The only option is to pass the test. If they don’t pass the test, they don’t graduate. What about my students, that, no matter how hard they try, will never be able to pass a regents exam? They have some safety nets in place where, as long as they pass certain tests, they can still graduate. Well, that’s still not cool.

I just fear that one of these days I’m going to have to have a conversation with a parent about why their child isn’t going to graduate from high school because they can’t pass a test! Did they pass all of their classes? Yes! Did they try their best? Yes! Does it matter? Apparently not to the state.

Good luck to my middle schoolers who are in their second week of their third practice state tests before the real thing in three weeks.

Here is an article from our local paper. http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2013/03/could_you_pass_the_new_fifth-g_1.html#incart_river

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Photo credit: edbasic.com

If You Always Do What You’ve Always Done…

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..you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” There are many versions of this phrase, mantra or prayer that I was reminded of today by a friend. Another is, “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” I am not a real religious person, but sometimes it’s good to have reminders in life.

As you may have read in previous posts, I’m really struggling with the administration at my job. It has become so miserable for me and I’m stressed so much that I have been waking up every 5 minutes at night coughing and choking because of severe acid reflux. I can only have a couple of bites of food at each meal. I’m thinking I might have an ulcer. I even had to work this Saturday and I have to work next Saturday whether I wanted to or not. It doesn’t matter that my husband also works some weekends and I have a toddler at home. My boss even went so far as to yell at one of my special needs students saying that she didn’t try hard enough on her SAT test and he could just send her back to her old school where she was bullied. If it wasn’t that my husband is going in for gastric bypass surgery in a few weeks, I would ask to go out on medical leave since it’s effecting both my physical and mental health.

So, I did something about it! I have been putting in resumes and applying for jobs where I can, but it’s not easy finding teaching positions more than half way through a school year. Then, a few weeks ago I went on an interview. I think it went really well and he even called one of my references. It will be a very long commute and I’ll be working with emotionally disturbed kids, which will be challenging. However, there are better benefits and more pay and it will be with an organization I really want to be a part of. So, I hope it all works out.

Sometimes you need to put things in perspective and realize that no amount of speaking up or giving your opinion is going to change things and that can be frustrating. However, you need to know when it’s time to pack your bags and move on. Unfortunately life comes with many bills and priorities, so you have to put that into consideration too. Otherwise I would have been out the door months ago! I’m done with getting the same old crap that I’ve always gotten, so hopefully I’ll get the job and have the power to change that.

Photo credit: Jin Jinto / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

 

I Think I’d Rather Work at Walmart

stacking-up-and-defying-time-1I’m so fed up with my current job that I’d rather work at Walmart than to spend another year torturing myself here. Not that there is anything wrong with a hard working person who devotes their days to the Super store, but with administration like this, I’d feel much more useful somewhere else.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE working with my kids. My kids are the best part of my day and if I didn’t have to deal with the other crap that comes with it, life would be grand! Like going to visit relatives, charter schools are good places to go, but you don’t want to stay there. I’m on my sixth year and I’m ready to jump ship. We make less money than the districts, have no unions to stand up for us, work our butts off and live with the fear of losing our jobs at the end of each year since we don’t get tenure.

What do I mean? Well, I’m the only Special Ed teacher in the building. So, I don’t get free periods or a lunch for that matter. I’m not allowed to speak up when we are out of compliance, but have to deal with the consequences if we get caught. I have little to no support, there’s a big lack of communication and the expectations are very high.

My administrator actually told me that he verifies everything I say with our state representative. Gotta love the trust!

For example, students came into school one Saturday to take an ACT exam. I was having a very leisurely day at home with my husband and foster baby. I went to look at my phone and saw that I had 4 messages wondering where I was. Why wasn’t I there with my students? Nobody told me I had to proctor the exam, but I was expected to come in on my day off and stay for the double time that my kids are allowed. Yes, I dragged my butt to school, but no, I didn’t get paid for it.

Here is another instance… teachers were supposed to make sure that one of my students only had 3 choices on multiple choice tests. They didn’t do it despite me going over it, explaining it in depth and teachers signing off saying that they understood. So the parent called and filed a formal complaint with the state. Who had to do all the paperwork, set up the meetings, talk to the teachers, set up the professional development as to why following accommodations are important and basically get all the blame for something that is out of her control? Well, she’s a Dirty Thirties girl who’s had enough!

At the end of every year beloved teachers are let go for reasons unknown. I refuse to be one of those teachers. I’ve applied for several other jobs and it’s not easy finding something in this economy. Now add on top of that hormones from fertility treatments! I fear that I won’t find something else by next year, but like I said, I could always go work at Walmart, if they’ll take me! Or maybe I could have a successful blog? Who knows!

Photo credit: susivinh / Foter.com / CC BY-ND

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

teacherbritishmuseumThis is a question I have never known the answer to. All I know is that I have things I enjoy. I like to write. I love children. I enjoy being online and using the internet. However, I’ve never had anything that I was so passionate about, so enthralled in, that I said, “THAT’S what I want to do for the rest of my life!” I wish I did.

I got really into the environment during the 90s. I became a semi-vegetarian, still eating chicken since I couldn’t seem to stomach tofu. I was really into “going green” and Saving The Planet. I even went to Environmental Camp and majored in Environmental Health my first semester of college. Unfortunately I remembered that I wasn’t very good at math and science, so path quickly ended.

I went to community college and had a concentration in print journalism (now practically a lost art). I went on to a four year college majoring in communications/journalism and fell in love with Public Relations. Well, being that I went to a state college, I just interned on campus. Big Mistake! I had such a hard time breaking into the field. I worked in a couple of ad agencies but didn’t really get anywhere. I worked at a small business newspaper where I worked like a dog for very little pay. I ended up designing grocery ads for six years and made so little money between 2 jobs that I couldn’t afford, rent, a car payment AND food.

So, here I was, 29 years old and having my “quarter-life crisis” because I didn’t want to sit in a cubicle for the rest of my life, not making a difference to anyone except the little old lady who wants to know if coffee is on sale this week. So, I went back to college for my Masters degree in Education. I went to a teacher’s college during my undergrad years and worked in the education department and had friends who were teachers. I figured it was decent pay, good hours with vacations, I loved kids, am good at English, it should be a good fit. Well, after 6 years of teaching Special Education at a Charter School, I don’t know if it’s my career that sucks or just my workplace, but I find myself in a rut again.

My husband is an LPN and would like to pursue his RN, so I’ve waited to give him the upper hand in making that leap toward getting his education. However, three years into our marriage, I filled out his application for him and told him he had to do the rest, which he still hasn’t gotten the chance to do.

I thought about getting my administration degree or maybe my PhD or something, but I don’t really know! Maybe I’ll be one of the lucky ones and have a successful blog! We’ll have to see how that goes.

Photo credit: Etan J. Tal / Foter.com / CC BY