Excuse Me, Ms. Jackson

3. Write a post that begins and ends with the same sentence.

I’m always saying I could write a book of stories from my teaching career.

Today I was listening to Todrick Hall’s 4 the 2000’s when I heard some songs that remind me of my first couple of years of teaching.

One of those songs was “Ms. Jackson” by Outkast.

15 years, my office was in this little hallway with other offices and the teacher’s lounge.  It was a quiet out of the way room.  The heating unit did not work in that room but that did not matter to me since I was pregnant with the Imaginative One.  It was comfortable to me.

The problem with my room was on the other side of the wall was the assistant principal’s office.  The table where we worked was against that wall since it was the only place where the table fit in the room.  (It was not very big since it had originally an office.)

Whenever the students accidentally knocked that table against the wall, they would say “Excuse Ms. Jackson.  I’m for real.”

I should have told you the assistant principal’s name was “Ms. Jackson.”

Such a sweet story of a group of students who were like family.  I had taught the majority of them for two or three years by that point of time.  This is one of many stories from this group of students.

This story is why I always say I could write a book of stories from my teaching career.

Have a magical day,
Traci

The Last Day of School – A Reflection

Every year, I have a student or two who I develop a strong bond with and a student or two who no matter what we don’t see eye to eye.  It’s the nature of the game when you are a special education teacher.

This year was a little different for me.  I started off at the middle school which was located in the high school.  I had a difficult schedule even for someone who has done this for 12 school years.  I did more normal intervention for one period a day, inclusion for 2 periods a  day, and taught a below grade level science and math class for seventh and eighth graders.  My intervention time changed from day to day and the location of the intervention changed.  I disliked not being able to have my own room for intervention because I kept forgetting things I needed when I moved from place to place.

People knew I was overwhelmed so when they got word that there was an opening at the elementary school they literally ran down to my classroom to tell me.  I put my name into the “hat” right away and wrote a letter of intent that night.  Several weeks later, I was informed that I was going to be moving back to elementary school (told on Wed. and officially started back on Tues.)  I didn’t know what I was getting into.

That Tuesday (election day) I arrived in my classroom.  Of the 15 students, I knew or had taught all but 2 students so it was a fairly painless transition.  They had a substitute, special education teacher for a week, and then back to the original substitute for the first quarter and a half.  For special education students, that was way too much transition.  I had to remind them I was going to be there for the remainder of the year.

The class I took over was a cognitive disabled reading, spelling, English (language arts), and math class.  I had 5th and 6th graders in the morning and 3rd and 4th grade in the afternoon.  My largest group was in the morning – 9 students.  These are also the bigger students so it was crowded when all of them were there.

it wasn’t easy all the time.  I had students who could be extremely disrespectful towards me in one moment but then could be the best behaved in my room during another moment.  I saw one of the “hardest” student smile during a standardized test.  That made my year that I was able to make her feel comfortable enough for the test.  (fear of failure)

I’ve had students who have said “I want Ms. W back” when I required them to work or they were upset because there was some sort of consequence for their behavior.  I let those words roll off my back.

Most of all I had laughs with the students:

  • one of the students taking a small dry erase board and pretending it was a tablet – Great imagination
  • two of my students playing school and pretending to have a tornado drill
  • a student wearing a Halloween print fabric as a toga and a pirate hat (She found them in my cupboard.) – She actually walked into the office wearing  that “outfit.”
  • Singing “Farmer in the Dell” as a joke and after I stopped another student started singing it.
  • Dancing – A funny sight
  • Dressing up for spirit week – The students just cracked up when they saw me in my nerd outfit.  They told me they could not take me seriously with the little pigtails in my hair.  Needless to say, those pigtails stayed in my hair.
  • my student with so much imagination – She made up stories about a doughnut mysteries.  One time she drew on the board as she told the story.
  • Talks about farting and pooping and how young ladies don’t talk about that
  • Farting in the chair so other kids won’t sit in your seat (don’t ask)
  • And so much more . . .

I learned so much from this group of students.  I hadn’t had a half day resource room since I was pregnant with Will.  I was traveling between two building that year and when I came in I took a few students for most of the remainder of the day so it wasn’t actually a half day resource room but was similar.

I learned that routine was very important to them.  Homework packets are given on Mondays or Tuesdays (depending on the first day of the week).  They will ask about them.  We stopped this Memorial Day week and students asked for them both that week and this week.  Mondays and Wednesdays were primarily reading instruction with independent practice for math.  Tuesdays and Thursdays were primarily math instruction with independent practice for reading.  Friday was assessment and make up work day.  Students knew that and felt comfortable with that routine.

I also learned about patience.  With some of my students, I really needed to be patient.

Those are only some of my lessons I learned from them.

I’m going to dedicate Rascal Flatts “My Wish” to them as I have in past years.

A Year Ago Today

A year ago, yesterday I read online that a teenager had drowned.  They had not released the name at that time but my gut feeling told me that I knew the teenager.  So I went to my in-laws for dinner wondering who had drowned.  By the time I got home, they released the name of the teenager.  Not only did I know him, I had taught him for two years.  The last time I had seen him was a little over a year before.  He had come in with his mom to pick up his sister.  When I saw him in the office, I made it a point to say hi to him.  He gave me a hug. 

A year ago today, I prayed and kept looking at the online newspaper seeing if there was any updates.  I wanted the outcome to be good.  That night I went to bed not realizing that my prayers were not answered.  He had passed away.

When I awoke the next day, I checked the online newspaper to see if there was any updates.  The headline read “Man who jumped in pool to save friends has died.”  My heart sank as the tears welled up in my eyes.  After I read the article, I heard a bang on my window.  I looked up and saw the color red.  I just knew it was a cardinal which is my good luck “charm.”

For the next few days, I continued on with a broken heart not knowing when his memorial or funeral was going to be held.  I knew I needed to be there if not for his family and friends but for myself.  I needed to say goodbye and let him know that he was my hero because he died because he tried to save another person’s life.

The next weekend was the 4th of July.  My mom had invited the boys and I on a mini vacation to West Virginia.  I went not knowing when his memorial or funeral was.  We kept calling home to see if anyone could find out any information.  No one could.  That weekend was what I needed.  I needed to get away.  I got home on the 6th of July and found they had posted the obituary with the date and time of his funeral.  It was going to be the next day.  My hubby would watch the boys while I went to the funeral.

I went to the funeral.  There are several memories that stick in my mind.  The first was that as his mom gave me a hug, she asked me “how I was doing?”  I had not been her son’s teacher for six years but she cared enough to ask how I was doing.  The other memory that sticks in my mind is when the young man whose life he helped saved declared “He did it for me.  He did it for me.”

The next few days were a blur because I was physically ill and mentally drained.

During this past school year, I’ve shared memories of him with co-workers and attended what would have been his graduation.

Today is the anniversary of his death.  Renier, have I told you lately, that you are my hero.