Friday, November 24, 2006

Happy Thingie

It's funny, even when I'm not busy anymore, I'm busy. I don't know what to do with myself when I'm not doing school stuff. I'm still very happy with my job (despite some aspects), but I still have no life.

I called my students on Thanksgiving. They sound so very much younger on the phone than in person. I have never been a holiday person whatsoever, but it looks like I will be this year. Ha, I'm not even a parent and here I am, celebrating shit "for the kids." But Christmas is a big deal for them. People from all over the community (various communities) give them things they never get, otherwise. I know they are going to give me things and that my heart is going to break a little because having anything to give doesn't come easily to any of them.

I asked the instructional coordinator if we could order some novels. SHOT DOWN. No novels. They do not teach testing objectives. VERBOTEN. Sigh.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I won and I lost and maybe Corazon will win

Friday after school the bilingual and special education folks met about Corazón and I had to bring every piece of work she'd ever done all year to be scrutinized. I have mixed feelings about the outcome. Basically, she's going to stay in special education, but since she's categorized as "inclusion," I can keep her in my classroom whenever I feel it's appropriate, which will be all the time. This year they will test her on a second grade level, as far as standardized testing goes. But at the end of the year, we are going to re-test her for special education. If she can progress enough, she has a shot at leaving special education entirely, which was my hope.

She has, for the first time ever, been having friends. Her teachers from previous years said that because of her family situation, she was more or less a social outcast every year. But recently, she has been playing with Carmen and Esperanza, and even going to Esperanza's house after school. Her grades have been going up since all this started. I have a lot of hope for her. And it's great to see her smiling and laughing every day now.

Friday, November 10, 2006

On the run...

I have four minutes before I have to catch the bus for work, but today is the meeting that decides Corazón's fate. I'm nervous. I put my neck out here, so we'll see what happens.

This week has been the week of melt-downs at my school. The non-bilingual class made the substitute cry yesterday. In my opinion, it was richly deserved. I got a bit weepy this week myself, but not because of the kiddos. Another teacher, one of my closest friends on the faculty, had a small breakdown. The special education teacher is pouting and stomping around and didn't come in yesterday. In fact, I think everyone I've come into contact with at school is counting the days to Thanksgiving.

More later.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Mi Corazon

Corazón is my girl. She is my special girl and I love her very much.

At the beginning of the year, she was quiet and withdrawn. When I asked the kiddos to write something about their families in their journals, she flat-out refused. She wasn't defiant. There was no drama. She just shook her head quietly and refused. I asked her if she'd just tell me who she lived with so I'd know who to talk to about school things. "I live with my older sister," she told me. She wouldn't say anything else. She is frequently late to school and rarely does her homework. Whenever confronted about those things, she becomes flustered and ashamed. Her grades are not dismal, but tend to go up and down.

I was able to piece together a little about Corazón's world. From what other teachers tell me, she and her little sister, Paloma, were both forcibly removed by the courts from their mother's custody and put in the care of their eldest sister. There was definitely neglect and outright abuse in the household; I heard something about an abusive father. They have one or two brothers who are incarcerated. When they were in their mother's custody, they seldom made it to school. Both of them failed a grade. Corazón was put in a Spanish-speaking classroom from kindergarten through 3rd grade, though her English was stronger than her Spanish. Even though it's already November, I just found out last Thursday that she is a special education student. No one gave me the paperwork or even told me that it existed. I had no idea, all this time.

I am seeing, more and more, how students are slipping through the cracks. I'm starting to understand how it happens. I don't want to see Corazón put into special education. The goal of special ed is to bridge the gap and move the students back into mainstream education. But how often does that actually happen?

I've so lost momentum with this post. It's just that Corie is my girl. She's not withdrawn or quiet anymore. She is wildly funny and has a quick, biting wit. Her antics, along with Esperanza's, had me laughing so hard I was crying last Friday. Legally, I think I can keep her with me as long as I make modifications to her instruction, since she has "inclusion" on her IEP. I feel that she has a real shot at catching up and making it out of special education, but ironically it won't be the special services that will help her. I think that being put in a bilingual classroom was not helpful to her, and in fact hindered her learning to read. And she's my girl and I want to look out for her learning because she's just too fucking bright and special to be left so far behind. She's had far too many people abandon her and I can't be another one of those people.