Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year!

I hope you have had a good holiday. I know I've appreciated the "time off," even though it seems like I've spent quite a bit of break working. I've been busy sorting through all the stuff I got from incorporating the high school program into mine. Two of my paras and I spent an entire day on Monday organizing everything. The strangest thing was nearly doubling my inventory and ending up with more space than we started with! Not quite sure how that happened; sort of a "loaves and fishes" thing in reverse. So far everything fits but we haven't added the bodies yet. We'll see how it goes on Monday.

I've also been working on IEPs and programming for my two new students. Bubba is an old friend. He was with me for 5 years before becoming too fragile to come to school and transitioning to the high school teacher. I'm really looking forward to working with him again. Lea is new to me. It's been interesting getting to know her. I have less than 10 days to evaluate her and write her new IEP (WOW!). I think I have it mostly done except for specific information in the performance levels/descriptive parts (social/emotional, academics, etc.). I'm hoping I can fill those blanks in before the IEP. I was actually able to come up with some really good goals for her which are both meaningful to her (I hope) AND transition-oriented (since she's almost 17). I have an awesome schedule planned for her, taking advantage of a partnership with the YMCA and using the brand new vocational training center our cooperative is creating. I'm also working with a teacher friend who works with high school students to give Lea some same-age peer time. Now I just have to hope that transportation can accommodate our daily needs for a van. Lea has an awesome para who is coming with her from the other program. She is very excited about the program changes and possibilities available to us.

In addition to all of this, I've been organizing and planning for state assessments. We can start taking data for the Kansas Alternate in January. I'm more than two instructional months behind because of all the other changes, so we'll see how that goes. There are some things, like "understands cause and effect" that I know we can get data on right away. Other things like "recognizes body parts" and some of the vocabulary related items will have to wait until we get in some more work.

I don't believe in setting "New Year's Resolutions" because I can never stick with them anyway. However, I do like to set goals and the beginning of a new semester is a good time to do that. This semester I have goals to:
  • Finish the Wizard of Oz unit (future post coming)
  • Put together a really good Solar System unit
  • Have Morning Meeting every day except Community Day
  • Get The Girls trained in using more technology more consistently with the kids, especially computer-based activities
  • Be as involved as possible with my new high school program while not neglecting my younger students
  • Stay ultra organized with state assessments and move through them as quickly as possible
  • Push for the expanded space I'll need to accommodate our new program
  • Learn what there is to learn about transition issues and adult services in our area
  • Survive without losing all my hair

Good goals, I think, for what is promising to be a nutty, crazy, wonderfully busy spring semester.

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