So Long, Farewell!
Today has been a very bittersweet day… I work with the drama teacher at school, and our students’ final performance of The Sound of Music took place tonight. With only six days left in the school year, I HAD to bite the bullet and start breaking my classroom down for summer storage. Plus, this will be my last blog post as your special education blogger! I will really miss having the opportunity to dialogue with the special education community online. As I leave, I want to share a few final thoughts on the end of the school year with my students, as a blogger this year, and where I am headed next!
I am really thrilled with the progress my students made, both academically and more intangibly as people. I start getting a little bit teary as I listened today to my students read aloud fluently from our class novel (The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin) and thought back to the seemingly-endless phonics remediation during guided reading groups, and I’m getting a little bit teary now reflecting on what my kids were like at the beginning of the year compared to now. They are so much more independent, yet they work as a cooperative team. The student whose work you saw in my earlier post on ‘Handling Horrible Handwriting’ wrote in his yearbook page that writing was his favorite subject. My student whose behavior management challenges I have shared with you stood his ground and fought his anger the other day when another student punched him. IEP goals were met, state tests were passed, and most of all, I feel like my kids are really ready for middle school.
We are celebrating with a cadre of ‘senior activities’ including our senior trip to Camp Ramapo in upstate New York that happened last week, senior barbecue, prom, and graduation next week, and of course, our annual class yearbook. Each student writes about him or herself in terms of things they liked and learned during the year and some personal notes. My class historian helps compile pictures to make ‘scrap pages’ commemorating our field trips, class novels, major projects, and success stories (and of course we include some pictures of friends and parties as well!). We make a face copy and photocopy it for each member of the class, and it becomes a treasured memory. One of my students from years past attended our performance tonight, and eagerly asked if we were making a yearbook again, and if so, could she have one? It was a nice ‘warm fuzzy.’
In reflecting back on my experience blogging with Scholastic, I can say that it ‘stretched’ me in a way that I hope I am able to ‘stretch’ my students! It was really invigorating to have a voice to share special education hints and practices within a community of such excellent teachers and colleagues. I also really enjoyed learning to use the blogging technology… I am finally being forced out of my technological stone age, and I KNOW my students will benefit from my renewed attention to PowerPoint and online publishing! I think that’s a big takeaway… technology is not just a vehicle anymore. It is necessary that my students have a working knowledge of communication technology for them to be successful in life, and it is my responsibility as their teacher to educate myself and pass it along. I really want to thank the people at Scholastic as well as my online colleagues (especially Angela… such an inspiration!) for their support and encouragement this year!
Though we are moving into summer, my vacation will not start until August 2nd. I am working as a Curriculum Specialist at the Teach for America New York City Institute starting the last day of school and am really eager to provide daily professional development to brand-new teachers who will enter our ranks in the fall! I feel honored and privileged to share my experiences in the classroom in so many ways, and I know my time as a blogger will help me present and relate to other members of my professional community… hopefully in a helpful way! (I am especially excited to welcome new special education teachers and will be SURE to direct them to our web resources here at Scholastic!)
Next year, I am venturing into uncharted territory teaching an ALL-GIRLS inclusion class with a consulting teacher. This will be both a different class format (I will meet regularly with my consulting teacher, who will provide academic intervention support and IEP collaboration) and a VERY different population! I will miss my rowdy, active boys, but am looking forward to challenging myself and my girls to think critically and learn as much as possible.
I hope you have enjoyed the special education blog and found it helpful. I know I learned a tremendous amount from the research to the writing to the actual online aspect, and I hope that I have been helpful in some small way to you! I wish you all the best of summers and a very successful future to you and your students. I am really glad to be a special educator, and the excellent teachers I call my colleagues are as much a reason for that as my strong, intelligent, dedicated, and tenacious students!