Thank you for your patience as this year kicked off with an unexpected turn of events. I am so thankful for our amazing staff and team who could pull together and cover for me in my time away. My mom gave her life (43 years in special education) to be a teacher and a mother. Those two roles made her the happiest. I am so incredibly thankful she mentored and guided me as I realized my passion for helping and educating. She was proud of me and I intend to keep working hard so that pride continues to shine. With that said, let me share with you what we have been working on!
As the year began we all adjusted to our new schedules and classroom procedures. Visuals have been put into place at an individual level. Some kids are utilizing a classroom schedule while others are relying on a portable schedule. These are monitored and adjusted as the year moves forward. Visuals for some procedures are now posted in some lockers. Others will be added by way of social stories, behavior plans, power cards, or picture/video modeling. This will be an ongoing process to be addressed all year.
To prepare for picture day you may have read and reinforced our picture day social story. When social stories come home it is an area we have focused on. With picture day we practiced standing on a taped line and posing in both silly and serious ways. Then when it came time to go down for our pictures the kids knew what to expect. They enjoyed reviewing the silly and serious pictures. The kids also focused on group rules and we all learned and revisited (for former students) what behaviors earn money in group. Each Friday is prize day, so we posted our ideas about what types of positive behaviors they should show to earn money for their banks. Each child picked out a bank and labeled them so they can earn money. If you see a small toy item your child did not take anything from school. This is what they picked from my prize box. These are items that families have donated (cleaning out toy boxes) or are small things I pick up in the Dollar Spot at Target (I just love Target). Last year, Drew's dad hooked us up with a gift card which I purchase some moon sand for sensory and some prizes for the prize box.
We also reviewed basic emotions and read a few books (Inside Out, When Sophie Gets Angry, Pete's White Shoes, and some others) and practiced making faces, identifying facial expressions, and talking about things that make us feel different emotions. This was a building block to our unit on the 5 point scale. You should have seen a 5 point scale (or 3) come home. We worked on verbally labeling and coloring each number. A number 1 means that children are happy, working independently, excited, at their best. A 2 is Ok, fine, probably not requiring help though maybe needing it. A 3 can vary. It can mean worries are surfacing, frustration, upset feelings, and help could be needed to problem solve or move that number back to a 2 or 1. A 4 is angry. Help is probably required to make good choices, help the child remove him/herself to cope or calm and work through the anger or problem that arose. A 5 is out of control. This is when we say adults HAVE to help at sometimes it could mean adults have to help your body calm down because it isn't safe for you or others. This is a time students need to utilize sensory, our back room to cry/scream/yell while working with adults to help calm and protect their dignity. A voice scale looks a bit different. With tone of voice it does not quite match the emotions. Where a 1 is happy, on the voice scale it means no talking at all. Theses silent times are for tests or emergency drills. A 2 is a whisper voice and a 3 is a classroom talking voice. A 4 is an outside recess voice and a 5 is a screaming emergency voice. We will continue to reference these numbers so kids learn to self-monitor their emotions, reactions, problem-solving skills, and voice volume.
As always if you have any questions about what has been taught or covered, please feel free to send an email, note, or give me a call. I will respond before/after school within 48 hours. Some days I do have meetings with the general education teachers to plan and other mornings/after school hours I might be at a staff meeting or team meeting. Open communication is key! Please ask if you are wondering something.
Moving forward I will be posting a blog weekly between Friday and Sunday. I try to send out an email once this is completed so you know to check it, but not always. Pictures are posted when we do a fun activity or if we are learning something particularly visual! :)
Hope that catches you up and I will write more at the end of the week!