what this fall has really been like

I stayed late at school today for a meeting on Max.  His parents were there, as were a social worker, a psychologist, a therapist, a special ed administrator, an occupational therapist, a physical therapist, Miss Nelson, and me.  We all agreed that he is unable to be successful in my classroom, as had been hoped, and he will be moving in the next two or three weeks to a smaller classroom with more adult assistance. 

I feel sad about this, although I know it is the right thing for him.  I had never had any special ed students NOT make it in my classroom, and now all of a sudden I’ve had two.

But I got this email from Nan, who stopped by on Tuesday to pick up something she’d forgotten, and this really helps:

Dear Kiri;

I just had to drop a note to share with you an interesting observation
that I had today when I stopped in for my charger.  Somehow things
looked very different as an observer than they did when I was in the
thick of it. 

I only saw the class for a moment, but here is what
occurred to me.  I think as we have struggled with David and Max
and, now with Leo, although it has been very challenging for me,
it required nothing more of me than doing my job.  It is my job to try
and figure out how a child can adjust to a regular ed classroom.  What
had not occurred to me before, was with children that lack the skills
to operate in a regular education classroom, the effect on the
classroom teacher is they can not do their job. 

I think standing on the outside helped me see how frustrating it has been for you, such a talented teacher, to not be able to do your job due to the chaos.  Every teacher has to deal with behavior, but I believe that David and
Max are the first time we have not been able to manage things with
any level of success.  Poor Miss Nelson looked completely at wits end when I
looked her in the face.  You looked calm but although you continue to
run your class, Max running around is a tremendous distraction,
not just to the teachers but to  the students. 

I guess I am sharing this because it was surprising to gain
an “outsiders” perspective.  I want to reaffirm that your teaching and
your purposeful structure is good for students’ learning.  I am not
writing to weigh in on Max’s next steps, I am merely wanting to
remind you that how you teach and what you teach work.  I have seen it
time and time again.  It has helped bright children blossom, it has
helped remedial children gain, and it has helped many special ed
children with some pretty significant challenges. 

I know that the team will do well by Max and that he will either
succeed in your class or the team will find a placement where he will
succeed.  I just want to be sure, if seeds of doubt are creeping in
your mind, please remember that what you do is solid and that there is
a long history of success that should guide you.

I will be thinking of Max and the team as I move on.  I hope I can
consult with you when I don’t know what to do because I REALLY trust
your judgement.  I am truly grateful for all you have taught me
about education, team work, and children.

Thanks for four great years.  I am looking forward to that drink with
you and Ali.






4 thoughts on “what this fall has really been like

  1. what a great affirmation–that you really have been doing everything you can, that others have noticed, and that it really is in those students’ best interests, and in fact in the whole class’s best interest, that they move to a different classroom environment. it can be hard not to think of it as a failure, or to think of it as giving up, but emails like that are wonderful reminders.

  2. I am so glad she took the time to write this note. I saw the same thing happen to one of our teachers last year and it was so hard. It really is best for the child (and the other students) when we can look honestly at a situation and make a decision based on the child’s ability to be successful. I do hope you will find peace in the decisions being made. Thank you for your honest posts about all of this.

  3. What a sweet friend! That was so thoughtful of her to send you that note, and let you know that it’s NOT you, it’s the situation, and you’re doing everything you can/should be doing. You should print this out and hang it somewhere in your classroom where you can look at it any time you need a boost.

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