When I show up Monday morning, things will be drastically different than they were just last week. One of my students moved over the weekend, so my group of six is now down to five. Losing a student in any class makes a difference, but when one student makes up about 17% of your class, it’s a pretty significant change. And because this was a particularly challenging student, the changes will be, um, pretty darn big.
Because I now have fewer students, I am also losing a paraprofessional during the morning. Administratively, I completely understand the move. Professionally, I know my class will be just fine with one para instead of two. But personally, it kinda stinks. When you work with someone every day for three semesters, especially when he is a very good someone, it’s hard to think about him not being there anymore. I am very glad he gets to stay with us for the part of the afternoon when my students split into two groups and go to two separate general ed classes during my planning time.
And if that wasn’t enough change for one week, it’s also the start of a whole new semester. Change is hard in any classroom, but when you have a group of students with autism spectrum disorders who crave routine, it’s a little extra-scary. We will be venturing out into a general ed social studies class with a teacher who is totally new to all of my students. I’m very thankful this teacher is a genuinely cool guy and seems more than willing to work with me on any accommodations my students need. I am a little sad, however, that science is over for the year, and thus the one block of the day I actually got to spend with another female is now only a memory. Her classroom smelled so nice. But I digress. . . .
My students are also switching what we call “encore classes,” so now they will be with a new group of general education teachers in subjects such as physical education, FACS, art, and technology. Ah changes, changes, changes!On the other hand, there are so many things that I know will stay the same. Tomorrow morning, five boys will come in, get their points sheets, and prepare for their day. One will ask why he has to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance. I will teach, explain, comfort, reassure, and lead my awesome group of guys. I will joke with them and they will give me a bad time right back. I will probably say one of my oft-repeated phrases; I sometimes jokes that I’m going to make a t-shirt printed with them so I can simply point instead. These sayings would include:
1. What do the directions say?
2. How many people can I talk to at one time?
3. Lunch today is _______.
4. It’s in the directions.
5. If you need to pass gas, please leave the room.
6. Did you read the directions?
7. You really will not starve to death before lunch time, especially as you just had a snack.
8. Um, no, I’ve never heard of those video or computer games, so I’m not sure which I like more.
9. No, there will not be a snow day tomorrow.
10. What? The answer to your question was in the directions? I never would have guessed.
So here’s to second semester! I can’t believe this school year is already halfway over. We’ll keep plugging away while we wait for the one change we all agree can’t come soon enough: SPRING!