Monday, January 16, 2012

"I Have a Dream" (and a day in my life)

I just watched the "I Have a Dream" speech (you can watch it here) and it's just as affecting watching it now, for the however-manyeth-time, as it was the first time I saw it, probably back in elementary school. Like all of you, I'm sure, I share Dr. King's dream for racial reconciliation and equity. I also think about my students in context of his dream, not a dream now about race, but about ability and disability. See, I teach students who have some of the most severe disabilities out there. Many of their parents were told to give them up, send them away, or even let them die (yes, even as recently as 10-15 years ago). So, I share Dr. King's dream in a different way (and please excuse me as I change his words around, but I don't think he'd mind):
"I have a dream that all little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the intelligence of their mind or the wholeness of their body, but by the content of their character."

Switching gears completely...I am linking up with Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher to tell what a day in my shoes looks like! I have today off for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - it is 10 am, I am still in my pajamas, drinking coffee, and have reruns of "How I Met Your Mother" playing as I surf the web. Obviously, this is not a typical Monday, so I thought I'd share what my Mondays normally look like (putting most of it after the jump so it doesn't get so long):

5:15 - The cats wake up and paw at my face and meow loudly and knock things off my bedside table and in general prevent me from sleeping. I stumble out of bed and shoo them to the basement, where they're shut while I finish sleeping.
6:00 - First alarm goes off. I turn it off.
6:15 - Second alarm goes off. If I need to take a shower, I get up now and take said shower. If I don't, I hit snooze for another 15 minutes.
6:30 - Either get out of the shower, or finally get up. Release the cats from the basement and feed them, then start the coffee. Do hair, makeup, get dressed, etc.
7:00 - Coffee into travel mug, get together breakfast and lunch, pack school bag, bring the trash to the curb, then drive to school (about a 30 minute drive in morning traffic). Drink coffee and listen to my favorite morning talk radio.

7:40 - Arrive at school. Sign in, check mailbox, head to classroom. Turn on computer, start classroom coffee machine. Chat with coworkers, get classroom ready for the day. Make copies (or, more realistically, curse the copy machine that's broken again, along with the color printer), check email, set out students' breakfast dishes and morning work. Eat my own breakfast (usually yogurt). Down more coffee.
8:00 - Students begin arriving from their buses. As they arrive, I check home-school notes, assist with bathroom things, and get them started with their morning work.
8:30 - All students have arrived by now, and my classroom staff are in now (their earlier morning duties are schlepping kids from their buses to classrooms). We start breakfast - we eat meals in our classroom. Some kids feed themselves independently, we feed some, and some are tube-fed by the nurse.
9:00 - Breakfast clean-up. Students bring their dishes to the kitchen (just off our classroom), bring laundry (bibs) to our laundry basket, wash their desks, brush their teeth, go to the bathroom and/or get their diapers changed, etc. Classroom staff washes dishes while I supervise/assist with the above. By 9:00 I also must call the parents of any kids who are absent, and then enter attendance in the computer and email the nurses with any illnesses so they can report to the health department.
9:20 - Morning Circle. This includes greetings, calendar skills, whole-group math and literacy activities, question of the day with graphing, sight word review, daily schedule overview, and music/singing time.
10:00 - Prep for physical therapy - includes bathroom (again, yes. we do bathroom stuff a lot in our room!), getting AFOs (ankle-foot orthotics, aka braces) on, tracking down equipment, stretching, etc.
10:15 - Physical/Occupational Therapy. Our entire class (including staff - "specials" for me just mean I get to leave the classroom, not leave my students) goes to the therapists' room for PT and OT at this time.
11:00 - Lunch. I eat lunch with my students.
11:30 - Lunch clean-up, which looks shockingly similar to breakfast clean-up. It's a process.
11:50  - Choice Time. This is a catch-all time that encompasses whatever's left from lunch clean-up. Also, student daily assigned jobs, and the true choice time during which students are encouraged to play/interact with each other with toys, books, file folder games, computer, or listening activities. Sometimes I can sneak out to the bathroom during this time!
12:20 - Learning Centers. I have 8 students, so the kids are split into two groups of 4 for centers. There's usually a math and a literacy center going on, each 15 minutes long, and then we rotate.
12:50 - Yoga. We do a seated yoga DVD that's created for students with physical impairments. I've really noticed an improvement in my students' flexibility, physical therapy goals, and self-calming skills since starting the program.
1:10 - Table Work. This is where we work with each student individually on their IEP goals. There are some things you just can't do in centers and/or group activities. My staff and I rotate each week which student we're assigned to, so each staff member really gets to know each student's goals. The speech therapist also comes in at this time and works with some of my kiddos.
1:30 - Notes Home. I created a one-page form that the students fill out each day - a picture icon for each activity we might possibly do in a day. They use bingo markers to indicate which activities they did. There's also a place for "how I felt," and a place for me to write additional notes as needed. This enables even my non-verbal students to communicate with their parents about their school day.
1:40 - Prep for going home. Bathroom/diaper changes, notes in bags, room clean-up, coats/backpacks on, etc.
1:55 - Students walk/roll to their bus doors to wait for the buses. They are all usually gone by 2:15 or 2:20, but need to be there at least by 2 in case buses are waiting. I GET TO PEE NOW!
2:15 - Monday staff meeting/age-level collaboration time.
3:30 - Back to my room to clean up, prep for the next day, do random work...
4:00? 5:00?  - heading home
5:30  - My evenings at home consist of making/eating dinner, playing with the kitties, doing chores, running errands, bumming about on the internet, watching TV, reading, talking to friends/Mom/brother, lesson planning, working out, shower, devotions...I don't have a set schedule for evenings, though maybe I should (I'd work out more!). I'm a late-night person so bedtime is anywhere from 11 to 12:30.


  1. I LOVED readng about your day! God makes all teachers to fit where He needs them and I know you have a special heart for kiddos that others may easily want to dismiss. It is so easy to look at kiddos with special needs or ANY need as being burdensome but those are often the kiddos that will teach US a lesson on perseverance and kindness! We just need to look with Eyes of the Heart.

    I am your newest followeer and would love for you to come visit me. I posted about our We Care Bag yesterday and I can see that it might be something you want to do with your kiddos!

    blessings to you,
    Heather's Heart

  2. Hi Heather - thanks so much for stopping by! I agree that a lot of times, it's my students teaching me the lessons!

    I'll definitely check out your blog :)

  3. Those kiddos are so lucky to have someone amazing like you as their teacher! It takes a special person to work with them, and I can tell that you have that heart!

    Thanks for linking up!
    Miss Klohn
    Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher

  4. Your day looks similarish to mine! I also do a note home with boardmaker pictures that the kids have to mark what they did, I call it " Daily News" , super official right?

  5. I just found your blog through this linky party. I used to be a parapro in a SID/PID classroom and I miss the kiddos SO MUCH. It was nice to read about your day--very similar to what our days were like! And it's true that it seems like you spend most of the day bathrooming! :]


    1. Hi Abby - thanks for following! I'm sure you miss the kids...I know I would, too - no matter how much bathrooming we have to do ;)


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