I thought I would be following up on my last post all week but I've found myself lost in the world of making my long-term sub plans instead. So far I've spent 3-4 hours a day trying to capture everything that my sub may need to know when she takes over for me in the fall, and I'm not even halfway done. Next year I'm moving from pushing into all my classrooms (a full inclusion model) to having a non-categorical classroom. I'll have 10 children throughout the day, 5 will be with me most of the day and then 5 will come and go depending on their IEP hours. They will all be in kindergarten or first grade and have a wide range of abilities. A few are non-verbal, some have experienced trauma in their early childhood which seems to have impacted their development, some may have autism (it is rare to get an official autism label this early), some have physical disabilities along with intellectual disabilities. Some are still being toilet trained and some need to be monitored while eating. All of them are awesome kids and I can't wait to work with them.
I am SO excited.
I got to meet all of the children in one way or another this year through doing preschool transitions. I've met their parents, consulted with their preschool teachers, and hung out with them during the school day for a bit. Three of them I worked with at the think-tank this past year (yes, Magical is one of them!). I absolutely cannot wait to start this class and get to know them even better.
It's ironic, of course, that the year I get a non-cat class is the same year I will be out for a few months on maternity leave. I can't help but feel guilty- these are kids who need consistency and I'm throwing them for a loop. I have an awesome long-term sub and I want to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible for her.
So I've started my maternity leave plans, wanting them to be as absolutely as helpful as possible. It's the beginning of the year, which is my favorite time of year, but also the time of year I think that is most important. I'm trying to be as detailed as possible with how to open the classroom, how to do guided discoveries, when to do them, how to create a community, how to step up rules, routines, etc. It helps that Responsive Classroom has so many great resources and that I can include The First Six Weeks of School as a reference, but it's still a lot to create. (If you aren't familiar with The First Six Weeks of School check it out- it is a life savor not only in the beginning of the year but also in how it helps you set up a community that will remain all year).
Then there is the curriculum itself, the sequence of what to teach when, how to set up centers, what types of centers to use, when to start guided reading, etc. That of course is similar to the gen ed curriculum. Then I have to go through and adapt it to meet the needs of my kiddos- how to support each one of them with their particular needs in particular subjects.
And of course, there is the data collection. Each child has a long IEP with data that needs to be collected on how they are meeting their goals. I'm trying to make charts, anecdotal note sheets, and anything else that will make it easy for my sub & aid to track their progress. Not to mention leaving special notes on each of the 10 children- who needs to go to the bathroom when, who cannot eat anything in the classroom, who needs assistance on the bus, etc.
So far the task has been all-consuming and after I finish 4 hours of trying to predict what is best for the sub to know and all contingency plans.
The worst part is, the more time I spend with their IEPs and getting everything ready for their beginning of the year the more I just cannot wait to dive into the school year and get to know them all. So far it seems like it is going to be an amazing classroom and I can't wait to work in it! Of course, the time that Baby Lipstick appears I'm sure I'll be busy enough with other amazing tasks that will keep my mind off wanting to be in school.
I've been on a maternity leave this past year and will return to school in September, so your post really resonates with me. I had a little girl who really struggled with behavior/attachment issues/etc., and I definitely felt like I was abandoning her when I left. The book "My Teacher's Having A Baby" was very helpful for this child (and for me!).
The whole post-partum hormone thing + sleep deprivation + a colicky baby made for some tough days where I really missed my classroom and then felt sort of guilty. You seem to negotiate everything you do with terrific aplomb, so I'm certain you'll make it through fabulously. I share this, instead, in case you do find yourself having one of these moments, so you'll know that you're not alone. A fabulous retired teacher (and fabulous mom) that I know told me that she cried every day of her maternity leave, which somehow comforted me in my darkest moments.
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