Friday, June 25, 2010
June 22nd marked the last day of the 2009-10 school year. Considering that the chemistry of personalities and learning abilities in this class made for a year of sturm und drang for me it was an easy ending. On Wednesday I dusted cabinets, put away books, took down posters, rolled the document camera into storage and cleared my desktop of every checklist, teacher's manual, pencil, eraser, coffee cup, band aid and love note (and the not so nice note in which boy A threatens to beat up boy B at recess). I think back on this year and shed no tears although I will be happy to greet more than one of them in the fall with a great big hug as they travel on to their first grade classroom. In many an end of year letter to the kindergarten families I say that I learn right alongside my students. I am sure I learned more about teaching 'special children' in this past year than in all my 26 previous years combined. When we looked at data at the end of the year, both kindergartens came out as "well above average" for the growth index of our classes. This means that while not every child has a high RIT score (Far from it!), as a class they showed huge gains over their fall scores on MAP.I also remember the unhappy first day of school for one little boy; he would not accept a sticker from me for some work he had done. He yelled "I don't want this sticker! I don't belong in this school! I belong in a jail school!" He then stomped over to the coat hooks, grabbed his coat and I had to get the principal because I thought he was going to bolt. How different he was on the last the day of school when he stood as close as he could to me asking, "Can I be here?" The rest of the class was seated on the carpet, festival style (which means wherever they wanted). Yes, he still has anxiety, and stands, wiggles and jiggles, more than he sits, but he loves school and he has not spoken disparagingly of himself in months. That is worth more than any data can tell me. The first grade teachers can thank their lucky stars because we split up the characters that were like oil and water with one another. Also, one autistic child has moved out of the district and another who should be tested because he certainly is 'on the spectrum' will be transferring to another school. I know I will be hearing from THEIR teachers! I told the Special Ed. teacher that if it were not for the fact that she, along with Instructional Assistants and my team teaching partner, had also witnessed and worked with the challenges of my 09-'10 class, I might think it was all a bad dream.