Thursday, February 2, 2012


So, when I started this blog I knew I was being too ambitious for my own good.

Teaching special needs Deaf kids all day and doing all the paperwork and extra work that is thrown at teachers now leaves little time to keep up with side projects (other than some occasional cleaning and necessary home chores).

A ton has transpired since I began this journey, and i think it's safe to say I'm not a fan of any of it. In the midst of all the budget cuts and related drama, I was laid off from a job I grew to love. I had to say goodbye to kids I had taught for up to 4 years. I had to not only watch as classes were combined and re-assigned to other teachers who complained nonstop, but I had to help. I was forced into confrontational situations in order to defend the needs of my students. I has to listen to social conversations about school and budget issues while I tried to to lose it, and I had to listen to people ask things like, "so what are you going to do now?" I had to watch as one of my students grew to resent me because he couldn't understand why I wouldn't be back the following year. I worried about possible skill regression and emotional strain on the students since, for some, the only teachers they knew would not be returning. I had to say goodbye, and hated every moment of it. One of my students, the most severe, has since moved and I'm still coming to grips with the fact that I won't see him ever again. (I believe I mentioned him in the PECS post.) I had to move on...and why? Because in the 4 years I worked there, only 6 people were hired after me in our department...and we had to lose TEN teachers (by seniority). Talk about stupid. Now, I get to hear about how the two teachers who each have some of my students are ready to quit or retire because they're having such a hard time. Trade ya. Seriously. Sure, it's tough and frustrating. It's exhausting and never-ending. And sometimes it just downright sucks, i know, trust me. But, I still loved it. Nothing will even be close to watching a non-verbal, non-signing 7-year old communicate with his family for the first time using PECS, or getting an email from a student's personal nurse saying he finally ripped off his diaper over the summer, taught his mom the sign for restroom, and refused to touch another diaper (something I had been waiting on for about a year...stubborn child). I lived for those, seemingly small but actually huge, milestones, and I miss all of it.

Now, the point of this post isn't to throw myself a pity party. I was one of the lucky ones who found a similar job in the same district. And by similar, I mean something I never saw myself teaching...oral d/Deaf. A whole new world. New school with its own teaching methods and new drama. I still miss my other students, and I still think about them almost every day, but I'm grateful for the job I have and I made a pact with myself that I would make the best out of it, so I am trying. I also have the lay off to thank for my newly found assertiveness and outspokenness. Another thing I didn't see myself mastering, but I've surprised myself on occasion. My brain learned a valuable lesson through all of this: if something needs to be done, make every effort to do it as soon as possible, even if it means getting multiple people involved or causing some commotion in the process; you never know when those opportunities will be taken away.

Another thing I would like people to take away from this post...
Before you support budget cuts or other means to "weed out" teachers thinking it will help push bad teachers out, find out what criteria (if any) they plan on using to accomplish that. Too many good teachers were forced out just because they were hired recently. (And no, I don't believe I am an exceptional teacher or anything...I feel like I do what needs to be done for my students, in other job, but I would gladly show my appraisals which definitely do not indicate that I am a bad teacher.) There are teachers who still have a passion for teaching; who look forward to teaching (almost) every day, so please think of us before you jump on a bandwagon that could cost us our jobs.

Ok, I feel like that was more of a rant/soapbox than I intended. For that I am sorry; however, don't take it too lightly.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hectic Times

Well, this week has been busy to say the least. One of my students moved out of state leaving me with one (not for very long though, no worries), and the other one moved and may or may not be picked up by the bus on Monday. The other elementary Lifeskills Deaf teacher and I have worked out a co-teaching agreement until my numbers increase. That will be interesting...she has two of my students that I had the past three years plus two more. It will be good for the one using PECS, though, because she hasn't been trained, so I can work with him to make-up anything he forgot over the summer. And, my one student is learning how to use a Go-Talk because of some bone issues that cause him to feel uncomfortable signing, so that will be a good pair. It won't be too long until I have ARDs for 3-4 more students (starting in September) which includes another student with AU. The main thing I am looking forward to investigating the first couple weeks is MEville to WEville. The state school for the Deaf uses it with their Lifeskills program, and we have one set, so I am very curious hopeful to see how this goes.


Monday, August 9, 2010


Well, the school year has officially started (for teachers anyway), and that leads me to my first post!

PECS. The Picture Exchange Communication System. This is a great program geared towards autistic children. I had to pass some training materials onto another Lifeskills Deaf teacher today. She is going to have a nine-year-old severely autistic boy who is, of course, Deaf, and labeled mentally retarded. I had him for three years, and introduced him to PECS two years ago. It was a great discovery for him. He has never had an interest in sign language since his autism prevents him from really focusing on anyone for any significant period of time, but with the picture exchange, he finally had control over his wants and needs.  He caught onto the concept pretty fast, and although he is still discriminating between three pictures, it has significantly lowered his frustration levels, thereby lowering his tantrums. It's great, and I'm sure I will post more specific information about it at a later date.