Saturday, August 23, 2014

New beginnings

It has been a whirlwind these last couple of weeks. I found out I am starting a new teaching position at the high school, which is both exciting and sad at the same time. I was in my old middle school for 6 years and invested a lot of time there, particularly in the Autism program which I started from scratch. It was going to be a fairly easy year with the same students as last year and the addition of one new and awesome Paraprofessional. But my heart has always been in high school, so even though I am sad about leaving, I am super excited about my new job which is in a Medically Fragile self-contained classroom. I will have 5 students to start, one of whom will come with their own 1:1 aide and their own private duty nurse. I also have 2 Paraprofessionals, both of whom were just hired ( I was not part of the hiring process), so we'll be new together.

One thing that is not new is that the room is not fully funded yet. Can we say Deja Vu??????? School starts with students on September 3 (incoming 9th graders). I don't have access to any IEPs so I have no clue what their skill sets are. There are only 2 hospital beds and a changing table as far as equipment. No technology, switches, big macs, wedges, therapy materials, teaching materials, NOTHING at all except what I am bringing with me. HA! The teacher that was in my room last year still has all of his stuff in there and likely doesn't know that his room has been switched. We go in for Prof Dev on Tuesday and Wednesday and have 2 days, Thursday and the following Tuesday, in which to put everything together before students start. The room is teeny tiny, and is basically a kitchen. I was in the classroom a couple of days this week, cleaning out the cupboards, which were dirty and filled with kitchen supplies. How many tongs does one SPED classroom need??????? Since there is no storage except these cupboards and some file cabinets, I had to be hard core about what was staying. Anyway, more pics to follow later, but here is the room as I first saw it. None of my stuff is in there.

My kitchen area. I have 2 refrigerators and a chest freezer!?!?? I've asked them to remove the side by side refrig and the chest freezer.

One white board (it's a double), and no bulletin boards. I do have a document camera.

The 2 hospital beds and the changing table, which we moved into the large restroom. Even though they have known since February this program was going to be in the building, they only ordered the therapy equipment last week, so we won't get them until "the end of September sometime".

The classroom next door and the washer and dryer.

The view from the doorway of the other classroom. The room is quite small.

See the big refrigerator and the chest in the corner? They will hopefully be gone by next week. There was no teacher desk in this room. I know there are you minimalists out there, but I need a desk, end of story. That corner is literally the only place to put one.

With big motorized wheelchairs, all their equipment, room needed to maneuver, I have no idea how to set up this room so that the one student I have that is mobile can have a work station. But it WILL happen, as I am one stubborn viking chick.



  1. Wow, sounds like you are going to have your work cut out for you. I started my first year in the program I am in now with a bucket of crayons someone left. Sad that this happens. I don't know where your kids are academically but let me know if there is anything I can help you out with.

    Empowered By Them 

    1. I don't have Boardmaker or a computer yet, but I do have tons of things I purchased through TPT and other places, so I have materials I can start with. Some of the TPT purchases are schedule pieces and other icons, so I can at least get started. There is another med frag program at my school but she told me she does no academics at all and focuses strictly on vocational tasks that can be done with switches and buttons. I just know that I will be doing academics regardless of how low my students are. I am itching to see my student's IEPs so I can plan our first weeks until I get some technology in place. Thank you for your offer of help, I will definitely let you know if I need any!

  2. Wow! It looks like you have a lot of area to work with at least and the kitchen looks great! Maybe September can be a cooking unit while you wait for the rest of your supplies and materials to come in! I bet your going crazy without those IEPs! How do these people expect you to do anything?! I can only imagine how frustrated and anxious you must be feeling. I see a projector up there too, right? You can do a lot with that (Free BrainPop videos, Tumblebooks with 30 day free trial, etc) so hopefully that can get your started while you get more materials and learn your kiddos. Good luck! Let me know if I can help at all as well!!

    1. and! How could I have forgotten about that!

  3. I finally got a chance to see my IEPs last night. They are a little discouraging as there are no academic goals whatsoever in any of them, and a couple of them are more than capable. So I have my work cut out for me. I am definitely freaking out because it's high school, so there's a different focus, and the room is not ready and I need to shift my materials and come up with a schedule that is appropriate for high school, but encompasses academics, life skills, vocational skills, and CBI. Just writing that helped me, and also your offer of assistance and your helpful suggestions. If I wasn't as experienced as I am with flaky school districts, I would be in a greater panic than I currently am. I will post more about me planning and first week later. Thanks again Brie, you are awesome!

  4. Hi Jannike - although this is all a world away from what I do I think if anyone can turn it around for these students you can!! Wishing you every success and looking forward to following your journey through this new blog. I'm off to update my SpEd blog page to include this one now - Victory to the Viking :-) Teaching at Pempi's Palace