It's Friday afternoon after our first week of jump start. Grant it, it was only 3 hours a day with the kids, and not all of my class came, but I had an amazing week. The kids are bonding with each other, giggling and becoming friends. A community is starting to form and I'm loving how it is turning out. They are already looking out for each other. I'm also loving having my own classroom after 4 years of working in other rooms. I love singing silly songs, doing read alouds, and planning the day. I'm especially loving being able to slow the pace down to meet the needs of my kiddos. Most importantly, I am already in love with the kids.
I've been nervous all summer about taking these children away from their general education classes and limiting their social interactions. I've been struggling with wondering whether or not my classroom is the best idea for them. I don't want to limit them in any way.
After two days, I knew that it is going to be a great thing. After a week I'm really excited about the potential progress we can make this year.
One of the little girls is Rock Star, who I have worked with for the past two years. She has an intellectual disability and I've enjoyed watching her grow and develop since she first came to us. I don't think I've ever heard her utter so many spontaneous words in those two years combined as she's said this past week. Her confidence level seems to have sky rocketed. She's constantly commenting on read alouds, telling her friends what a great job their doing, and is seriously working on her academic skills because our classsroom focus is able to be at exactly her level.
In fact, yesterday she pulled the letter M out of a box and yelled "M" to show Magical. I've never heard her spontaneously identify any letters, and M is not even in her name. I've also never heard her raise her voice above a horse whisper. And there she was yelling across the room, trying to show Magical that she'd found his first letter. I didn't know if I was going to cry from happiness or pass out from shock.
Another friend is able to get the repetition and structure she needs when she needs it (which is immediately and frequently). We're quickly pulling her back into her academic work when she gets off task. I worked with her last year as well and I've already seen that the frequent reinforcement we can give her in the smaller class size is paying off with her behavior.
Magical is back with his huge smile, and I have other new students who are also adjusting well to our environment. It's not going to be an easy year by any means, but I think it's going to be a great year in a lot of ways. I am sure my behavior management will improve out of necessity, and I am sure I will have some little ones that will give me a run for my money. Managing the high levels of individual needs has already been tricky, and it will constantly keep me on my toes. But I think it will be good. Really good.
It's been four days, a total of 12 hours, and like I said, not all of my kids have been able to come. So I am sure my high will quickly change, but at the moment I'm excited by what this week may mean for my kiddos. The possibilities of what we may be able to do academically are racing through my head constantly. I'm ridiculously excited for this school year, even if I only get one more week of them until I come back to them in December.