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Saturday, September 24, 2022

Saturday Reflections: "I want to live with love."

For our independent reading novel unit, we did numerous book tastings, which culminated in a few trips to the library in which students chose a book to read for 3 weeks. For the first 10 minutes of each class, we would spend time silently reading and completing lit blogs. As students are reading, I am also testing the waters for new novels to read with a class. Because my class is a Basic or SAI (Specialized Academic Instruction Class), students in my English class can be with me for all 4 years. Because of this, I commit to never reading the same book twice. It also becomes a curricular challenge for me because I cannot as easily recycle full year lesson plans like most English teachers can. This week, I was reading Parrot in the Oven during our silent reading times. I took a quote from this novel as our quote of the week: "I want to live with love." As a teacher of students with special needs, I am frequently tasked with being nonjudgmental when students are presenting with behavioral challenges. This week really tested me! With every hard day, I still seek to understand, not to be misunderstood.

I thought in this post I would share a couple more back-to-school add-ons to the classroom that have helped a bunch this school year! But first...Halloween is coming! Here is my Halloween decor -- featuring all things from the Dollar Tree except for the orange Halloween must have been one of my daughter's hand-me-downs.

Back-to-School Essentials (continued)...

#1: Microphone.

I have often thought about getting a microphone to help with instruction. The need got real when I started the year using a mask because I was recovering from COVID. Now, I turn to the mic to use when I know that I am going to be lecturing for a little longer. I love using the mic because I feel like it gives a professional vibe to the class. It also allows me to practice using a microphone and being very careful with the words that I choose. Some days, however, I have energy and do away with it and I find that I can be much more dynamic without it. So it's every so often that I use it. Still, I love it -- especially for students who may have auditory impairments or for a simple "vibe switch" in the classroom.

#2 Scrap paper.

I know that we all have papers that we recycle on a daily basis. I have those dangerous guillotine-style paper cutters that I keep away from students. I frequently have scratch paper and a set of pens near the phone so that we can easily take down phone messages, etc. It's something small but it feels very utilitarian.

#3 Art lessons on Block days.

Let's face it, block days are long for a self-contained classroom. 1 hour and 30 minutes long. Typically I do break the lesson up so that we can take a break outside with a snack about 1 hour in. However, this week we did something new. We took out modeling clay and students spent a good amount of time sculpting out a book symbol for their independent reading project. We played classical music and did this for a good 30-45 minutes long. Students were engaged and produced some great art! On Day #2 (after things had dried a bit), we painted with washable paint or acrylic paint. We used paper plates for the art. I am going to try to incorporate some artistic project 1x week in block days. It really made the period fly by. It's a great day when a student says: "wow the period is over already?"

#4 Networking with local businesses for student jobs.

This next one is based on preference. I am a sucker for a cold email or a cold call. You never know where cold emails or cold phone calls can go. Maybe that's the undercover sales person in me. At my new school, there are less Workability connections and so students come mostly to their Case Carriers for assistance in finding a job. I have found that to alleviate the "foot work," I can easily call a local business (and...bonus points because our working hours are usually their slow hours!) and ask them directly: "Hi, I was wondering if you were hiring? Do you hire at 15 1/2? Do you hire at 16?" I have done this a lot with local businesses and they have always been accommodating. Some ask the student to come in. I never say that I'm a's probably inferred that I am a potential job candidate...but it helps with reducing the footwork from actually going in!

I have done this for students for years, but this week, one of my students actually got their first job from this phone call! I was so amazed. Not all of my students follow-up on leads, but this one did and was asked to come in for a interview and got the job! 

I don't know where this is going necessarily, but I am trying to build a directory in-house of local places in the area that are hiring at 16 or younger (e.g. movie theaters, fast-food restaurants, etc.). It is one of my deepest passions to help connect students with work.

Okay, I think that's it for now. This last week I had back-to-back tri's and boy did I not anticipate how that workload would hit me! Also, this week I will be presenting at the California Teacher Association's 3rd ever Special Education Conference. I am honored to have presented at every single one so far.

I hope that you are able to spend this weekend reconnecting with family and relaxing.

Until next time,



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