Alternative Classroom...I just need to vent.

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by geegee1981, Aug 30, 2013.

  1. geegee1981

    geegee1981 Rookie

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    Aug 30, 2013

    Hi everyone, this is my second year teaching. I was a cross categorical teacher for an 8th grade class. I resigned and now I work for another school district in an alternative behavior classroom.
    I’m teaching in mobile home behind the school building. My students are part of an alternative program. They were kicked out of the school building because of their severe behavior problems. My classroom allows the students to remain in the school district without having to pay the tuition to send them to an alternative school. Currently I have 5 students. Their grade levels range from 5-8 grade. I have old books, 4 old computers, and a white board. That’s it….so the resources are limited. The tech person said that she would install a projector over the weekend, so maybe we can watch educational videos now. The kids were in the same classroom last year so they have already read the text books. Their former teacher was a older women that stayed at her desk and only gave them worksheets.
    2 of my students are at grade level and very intelligent, but they take medication and are severely emotionally disturbed. They become extremely angry sometimes. The other 3 are low, and they struggle with reading. So they are emotionally and learning disabled…and extremely immature. They talk about farts and cheese all day.
    Overall, I feel that my classroom management is decent. The kids like participating in class discussions, answering questions, reading aloud, etc. They do my classroom work to the best of their abilities. Occasionally students may throw a tantrum, but they go into time out, and return to normal shortly after. Sometimes student’s day dream or argue, but I easily get them back on task.
    As a new teacher, I feel that I am not doing a good job teaching. I’m new at this. I know that I teach special needs, but things never go smoothly. I’m a perfectionist, but there are always bloopers. Sometimes I have no clue what to say. I get discouraged when the kids throw tantrums. I wait patiently for 3 o’clock each day. It’s a new school so I’m just trying not to drown under all the pressure of learning the routines, etc. Are my feelings normal?

    I just need some advice and encouraging words.

    Thanks for reading.
     
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  3. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Aug 30, 2013

    Yes. Totally normal.

    I recently saw this saying on a t-shirt for special ed teachers: "Keep calm and pretend it's on the lesson plan." It's so true of the job. When you work in special ed, especially with students with behaviors, things rarely go according to plan. I'm a perfectionist, too, and it drives me crazy. It's just part of the job. Things get easier when you learn to prepare yourself in the morning for the almost certain possibility that things won't go smoothly. Then, on those rare days where things do, you'll feel extra satisfied.

    In special ed, you're often one of the last to get the updated technology and new resources. You can only do the best you can with what you have and no more. Advocate for yourself and your students to have what you need and seek out free resources on the internet.

    It's also your first year teaching (ETA: oops, second... but first in this job). No one, aside from yourself, expects you to be perfect. Take a deep breath and give yourself permission to not be perfect. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and learn. Give yourself permission to feel worn out from the pressures of the job. Just know that things will get better. You will learn how to deal with your students' behaviors. You will learn how to make do with the resources you have. You will grow as a teacher over time and with experience. Seek out a mentor, preferably someone with a classroom similar to yours, but really any special education teacher. Just keep doing whatever you have to do to keep your head above water and trust that things will get easier as you go.

    Good luck. :hugs:
     
  4. bison

    bison Habitué

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    Aug 30, 2013

    I have been in many special ed classes as a part of a previous job, including some doozies. It sounds like you're doing just fine with what you've been given. All I can say is hang in there, and it will get easier. :hugs:
     
  5. geegee1981

    geegee1981 Rookie

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    Aug 31, 2013

    Hi Bison thank you for the advice. Some days i feel like the kids actually learned...other days i feel ineffective. Im just going to take things one day at a time. I make myself learn 1 new thing everyday....today im focusing on finding the common core standards online. By chance, do you know where i can find the language arts, and social studies standards?
     
  6. geegee1981

    geegee1981 Rookie

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    Hi bella, thank you for the advice. I know that i will become a better teacher over time, but it seems like that perfectionist tendency haunts me. I have to let this go.

    I have a mentor at the new district. She is a sweet heart and informative, but she doesn't have much time for me.... I am still able to call my old mentor, but i dont want to bother her since she is retired, but still busy.

    "Keep calm and pretend it's on the lesson plan.....I need a shirt like that! That basically summarizes everything right now.
     
  7. bison

    bison Habitué

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  8. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    Aug 31, 2013

    I feel this is an unfair situation for all of you. Four grade levels of children with greatly different academic abilities - this is a huge disservice.

    Do your colleagues in typical classrooms have online textbook codes they can share? Do you have any other adult support so that you can teach all of the grade levels?
     
  9. geegee1981

    geegee1981 Rookie

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    Hi, my boss told me that she does not expect me to teach everything or every standard, but to just try my best. I will use a program called A plus, so that kids can get some of their grade level instruction on the computer. I have a paraprofessional in my classroom, but i am completely alone other then him. The other teachers are in the building.

    The teachers are lacking books in the building. Honestly, to regular ed teachers tried to come in my classroom and take my books.
     
  10. geegee1981

    geegee1981 Rookie

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    Aug 31, 2013

    Thank you! Ive searched, but never found this page. I'm in IL, so are the common core the same for each state?
     
  11. mrsnoble116

    mrsnoble116 Companion

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    Aug 31, 2013

    I think good teachers have your thoughts. Has your administrator come to check in on you? I was in a portable behind the gym, basically in the parking lot. I had 6 behavior kids from grades 3-5. I know how you feel. Just set a strict routine and follow it. I had morning math work that they came in and did. If there's idle time you will be battling them.

    Also, have you expressed to your admin that you NEED more technology? Don't you just love how reg. ed feels sped doesn't need materials?

    Yes, common core is the same in all states. I just downloaded a file to help differentiate. Let me see if I can find it.
     
  12. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    The CCSS are the same for each state, but some districts then write curriculum to align with the standards. My district took our old standards and worked with other area districts to figure out where the old standards were covered under CCSS, what standards were gone and what standards we felt were worth keeping and where those could fit under CCSS.
     
  13. geegee1981

    geegee1981 Rookie

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    Hi, thanks for the response.


    I have been begging for a smart board, and my boss said that she found one for me, but its going to take months to put in....basically the tech people are busy in the regular ed classroom, so im the last priority. So the tech guy came in yesterday and set up an ancient projector :-/

    Yes, my building principal came into the classroom, but it was only to introduce me to the security guard. She was giving him a tour. I don't think she would have visited if he was on a tour.

    The day before school, the mobile was filthy, dusty, nasty,broken furniture, etc. The janitors did not clean the room, so i moved in a few hours before school began. I sent lots of emails to the administration telling them that the room was dirty, but the janitors still didn't clean it until the last minute.

    Staff members became angry.....lots of people checked on me and the room until it was cleaned out. So my mentor, special ed director, secretaries, teachers, etc paid me a visit and they complained to administration and the janitors. They were really stressed out about my classroom.
     
  14. geegee1981

    geegee1981 Rookie

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    My district said that they follow curriculum maps, but the maps are empty and not complete... So im not going to worry about the maps. I just want to follow the standards for now.
     
  15. mrsnoble116

    mrsnoble116 Companion

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  16. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Here is a page from ISBE that provides more information about how the standards apply to IL: http://www.isbe.state.il.us/common_core/. Hope that it helps!

    Based on my experience working with students with an ED, if I were you, I'd be more concerned with teaching appropriate behaviors and social skills and let the standards come second. Of course you want to teach academics, but these kids need to learn how to control their behaviors so that they can re-integrate into the regular classroom, where academics are the primary goal. The primary goal in your classroom should be teaching those behaviors that will get them there. And, of course, the students' IEP goals should guide instruction over anything that is in the standards.
     
  17. ecteach

    ecteach Groupie

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    I teach a Self Contained EC Class, and I have never had textbooks. My kids wouldn't even know what to do with the textbooks. The projector is a great idea. Look at the Common Core Goals for all grade levels and see if there are some things that align. Teach those items for a while. I teach 6-8 in the same classroom, so that's what I normally have to do. The items that don't overlap, make learning stations, and rotate around the room to check for understanding. You might have to join some of the sites like edhelper, abcteach, etc. They usually have good activities for individual work. Good luck.
     
  18. geegee1981

    geegee1981 Rookie

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    Sep 4, 2013

    Thank you everyone for your advice. I appreciate you.
     

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