Learning The Art of Teacherly Love

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Feb 16 2013

February: The Shortest (and Busiest) Month

February has been a trying month, at best.  In the past few weeks, I have found myself wondering if I will be able to get out of bed in the morning due to exhaustion, and along with that I have been trying anything and everything just hoping for a snow day..

But February just keeps rolling on, snow-less.. And we have now passed the 100th day mark, reached the end of semester one, and crossed into the second half of the school year…

With that being said, this month has brought some seriously challenging days, but also some great progress and celebration-worthy moments.

With our Special Education Program being audited by the Pennsylvania Department of Education on February 25th, you can bet we have been busy, stressed, and frantically preparing for the arrival of our dreaded auditors.  They will be looking into all of our work, from a legal and compliance standpoint. We began our preparations, slowly, in October, by completing some “self-auditing,” in which we spent about an hour going through each child’s most recent IEP, their file, and paperwork using the DOE official, and confusing, checklist.  While we are checking the contents of each child’s file, we also make minor adjustments, fix silly mistakes, and correct the format of some of our reports.  Since October, the 4 members of the Special Ed. team have each been completing about 2-4 of these audits per week… We have still not finished self-auditing all of our files…

In addition to self auditing, we are also completing full, lifetime, program audits on 10 students selected by the PA DOE.  This involves looking back through every single IEP, report, and piece paperwork in these students academic careers.  This takes an average of 3-4 hours per student… And finally, we are preparing 4 massive binders to present to the auditors with all of our school’s support services, data, and supporting documents to show, concretely, all the things we do for our students and the supports we have in place to help them (and their families) succeed.  On top of this, my administrator also wrote a 153 page report on the same topics.

Needless to say, the Special Ed team has been busy.  And yes, we are still teaching and running classrooms with all this going on.  Not only am I doing the daily classroom routine, but I have now also been given the task of holding an extra hour of Math PSSA prep practice for a group of 5 boys (4 of whom are with me all day already) after school… And for some reason, other teachers still ask us for extra support and favors…  I am not sure that the general education population is aware of just how serious, and in depth, this audit is… It is stressful!

However, with all this going on behind the scenes, Room 306 has been running rather smoothly.  With the exception of a few days of wacky spring-like weather that brought antsy behaviors to an all-time high, we have been pushing forward and making progress.

Here are some of the most exciting moments of progress for February:

  • 3 of my boys are now only around one grade level behind in math! So they get to stay in their regular education math class full time! (As long as their behaviors allow them to appropriately participate.)  These 3 are also a part of the group that stay after school with me to work on what they are learning in that math class.  WOAH!
  • My most sensitive, but loving, student with Autism will be receiving an award at the Honors Assembly this Wednesday!!!
    This same student, who is a 1st grade level math worker, has conquered Double-Digit Addition!  AND attempted nearly all the problems (with some success!) on the 5th grade Math PSSA practice test.

This page brought me to tears.

  • All of the boys have shown great improvement in their writing and sentence structure, and they are really taking more risks with writing; trying to spell words they are unsure of and writing more than ever.

The most exciting moment of February though, came on Valentine’s Day, when we received our first response letters from our Pen Pals in Colorado!
The boys were saying things like, “Can we write back right now?! Where’s the paper? What are we writing to them this time?! Can we tell them about Philly?” and “We touched Colorado! These pencils are from Colorado trees! We’re touching Colorado!”

Letters from Colorado!

Seeing them so excited to write really made me smile.  My passion for writing is starting to rub off on students who’s previous statements about writing involved words such as “hate” and “sucks.”

While there may be a mess of chaos and stress at school, I have also been taking this month to do more Philly things, and get out of this winter rut we all get sucked into:

February Philly Photos :)

Finished my first 2013 Winter run in time for this view.

 Rutgers Gymnastics Alumni Meet! Such a great Girl’s Weekend.
Reunited with this amazing sister, AGAIN.

Enjoyed my first Flyers Game with my best friend on a random Thursday night.

And.. Came home to a beautiful Valentine’s Surprise…

February has been eventful, and this weekend, thankfully, is a long one.  With President’s Day on Monday, I will get some extra sleep-in time, following the…

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    Dare to Teach with Love… Never cease to Learn.

    Greater Philadelphia
    Elementary School
    Special Education

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