Friday, September 02, 2011

End of Summer Blues

I find myself at the end of this summer in an emotional catch-22. I totally love my boys, and I love having them home to do fun stuff and hang out and be squished.

But I really have to be truthful sometimes: I am very ready for them to be back in school right now.

End of summer is always the apex of disastrous. The boys have been off schedule for so long, that even the artificial one of the last two weeks of summer is a joke to them, and they are totally helter-skelter. Usually I would be going in to teach twice a week, getting a breath, but the earthquake and hurricane canceled classes. Good for not having to find someone to watch two totally disregulated boys for a couple hours twice a week. Bad for no break from two totally disregulated boys in perpetual Witching Hour for two weeks.

Add to that Andy's new self-expression limit-pressing: smartmouth eye-roller. And Joey's usual echoing of phrases and sounds that may be extremely annoying, like phrases from Annoying Orange or pretending to cry like a baby.

It's a horrible, wrenching, tearing feeling to love your kids so much, and be so very ready for them to go do their own thing, and let you enjoy a moment of quiet. Which will then become an hour of quiet. And by the end of Day One, I will be nearly in tears missing them. Today, I was in tears wishing they would just behave like kids who had just been taken to an awesome pizza lunch, and not two hooligans who had no sense of gratitude in their bodies.

And I'd like to not feel guilty about wishing school would just go ahead and start already, so they can get into their routines and get regulated again.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Andy's Open House

Well, that went... weird.

There is a standard format for open house around here. You show up sometime in the time slot provided (1-3 or 5-7 for Andy's school), stand in line to get the name of your kid's teacher, roam about until you find their classroom, dump the large bag of school supplies on the desk with your kid's name, shake hands with the teacher, convey vital info (my kid needs a lot of structure! or my kid is on these meds! that sort of thing), and leave. It takes about half an hour, with the wandering and line waiting and sometimes you have to wait a little to shake the teacher's hand.

So we had a little trouble deciding on lunch, and Joey was at Grandma's, so we decided to just go over, do the open house thing, and then do the lunch thing.

We walked into a big, formalized program with, like, sessions and stuff. Apparently, someone thought parents had a couple hours to kill the week before school started, and should spend all of it at the orientation session. Only they didn't tell any of the parents there was going to be this formal session format thing, and parents were wandering in whenever, just like usual. And they didn't tell the secretaries, who at first set up to do the lines for getting the parents informed of teacher names, then suddenly had to just rush everyone in so the principal could do the keynote thing. I'm not sure how much warning the teachers had, but I got the distinct feeling it wasn't much.

Consequently, very weird. No way to have that quick, private two minutes to tell the teacher your kid has some minor little difficulty that just needs to be known so it won't be a problem. No time to personally connect with the teacher, because they ar busy giving a little presentation to everybody. It was really, really weird.

If people had known it was going to be a two-hour formal-session event, it would have been fine. Even awesome. Say your info once or twice, instead of repeating it with every handshake or expecting the parents to read anything. Have a little tour of the school and the specials classrooms. Break up the crowd so you know you on;y have a certain number in an area at any one time, avoiding bottlenecks. But they didn't bother to tell anybody, so we had us who really needed to skedaddle and feed our kid. We had lost, confused parents wandering in the classroom at the end of the little presentation, looking embarrassed and feeling uncomfortable as they disrupted the little session they didn't know they were supposed to be attending. It was really, really bad.

The teacher seems OK, and I have heard good things about the class (this is the teacher's seventh year at our school, an all seven years have been at this level) and the pod (the group of 2-4 teachers who divide the students up into smaller math and reading groups in a few weeks- allows more individualization in smaller groups, as you can have each teacher specialize in certain levels of a skill, instead of everybody trying to do the whole spectrum of skill sets. In a given set of time, a teacher can do what? two groups? three? And instead of having a kid have a choice of three levels, with a pod of 3 the child can now be in any of 6-9 levels!). It is a regular-ed setting, which is a new world for us, as Andy has been in inclusion classrooms the last two years. It is a larger class than he is used to, so I don't know how that will play out- it seemed to be a full set of 28.

The teacher seemed well organized, and is going to have a website for us to check on homework things and projects, and any supplies or volunteers needed or wanted. She is going to do homework packets, so we can better work around our sports and therapy schedules, totally awesome. The first week will be read for ten minutes and then write two sentences, which I think is a great thing- for one, we know what is coming for the first week, and for two, Andy can use refreshment and reinforcement in writing (sorry, folks expecting my boys to write letters to them this summer- it didn't happen because I suck). So all in all, things are looking just groovy on the Andy front.

Tomorrow: rest and relaxation. School's coming.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Good Vibrations

Joey's school open house was this afternoon- our first back-to-school event! And it wasn't an IEP meeting! Hooray!

I got to meet the new team. Apparently after some scrambling and threats to force the principal to call me and explain why certain things were or were not happening, Joey's education team is nicely settled in 4 classrooms grouped at the end of one hall, so everybody can chat and pass him around as needed. Everybody also seems to understand the plan is to go with the flow, and if something happens that isn't groovy, its time to chat it up and work it out. Awesome.

Joey gets to start off the year in a good chunk of self-contained class to keep him in small groups, where he seems to work best. He will, however, have a regular class homeroom and a regular class math group to start. Not inclusion- regular. He imitates inappropriate behaviors too readily, so they are trying to re-incorporate him with his old upper-group regular-ed buddies. His math friends are used to him, he's used to them, and he'll have a lifeguard if he runs into trouble, plus the other three classrooms nearby are full of friends, both peer and adult, to help. We're hoping this gives Joey some sense of safety, or at least comfort, so he can function. Also, boredom is not our friend. He needs very advanced math, or we risk a mess.

The plan is to slowly move him into regular-class reading groups as well, but to keep him in smaller-setting situations for what would normally be large group in a regular-ed class (ie, science, social studies, shared reading, writing, etc). He will also be with his regular ed class for "specials" (art, music, library, computer, health, phys ed) and recess, to keep those kids more used to him, to keep him more used to them, and to keep him away from behaviors and issues of the special needs classrooms that were feeding problem fires. His lifeguard will be present in all of these regular-ed settings. At least that's my current understanding, and not having one in these situations would be perilous- we still have the threat of bolting to contend with, after all.

So we seem to all be on board, ready to go, and we exchanged email and cell contact info.

I returned later with Joey's school supplies, and had another solid chat with the self-contained teacher. We have a better personality fit than last year's teacher, which makes it easier to exchange info; also, she's worked with Joey before, so could understand more of what I was trying to communicate. All good. Yay!

Am I still nervous? Oh, yeah. Last year was a total disaster. I didn't know how anxious I was until i started driving away at least, and realized I was shaking, and started to cry. I think it's going to be a much better year, with a more solidly prepared team. But it is still school. And one never knows.

Tomorrow: Andy's open house. Erp.

Have a Kid Heading to School? Go Read This Stimey Post.

Hey, this is supposed to be a resource blog. This post rocks for prepping for school. Adding it to the resource list.