Here we are near the end of summer. This morning I woke up to a 7 degree morning and realized there are few beautiful days of 20+ left and school is literally around the corner. . . I haven't really posted in a while and after completing a course on Level B assessment in July at the university, I really took the summer off. Okay, I did do a bunch of professional reading but I read for fun, went camping, took off to Vancouver to watch my youngest son play lacrosse, did some site seeing and slept in many a day. I enjoyed our new puppy (well, my son's new daily companion) and watched this dog grow and grow and grow. He was so tiny when we got him. He is a beautiful black (but turning reddish-brown) labradoodle with an easy-going temperament that makes for a perfect companion for my son who is hesitant to leave the house or join a crowd at any time. He is diagnosed with Schizophrenia which is well controlled (finally) with medication and this dog will nudge him to leave the house for walks and will be a companion who never judges his motivation or lack there of, never judges whether his ideas are "different" and just loves him unconditionally!! Why we didn't do this before? Not sure, although having a puppy in the house in June was a bit brutal on the nerves due to the lack of sleep. "Snoop" is not an integral member of the family who loves his big brother, Nate!
As I approach that day. . . the day I have to go to work (next Monday), I am nervous, excited, and trepidatious. We are in year three of working toward becoming a true Professional Learning Community. The road has not been easy. We have had to unlearn some deeply rooted beliefs and realize that we are ALL responsible for every student in the school. Our two programs have had to join together to collaborate rather than being us and them. Students with exceptionalities are being included in our Bilingual program rather than being counseled to join the English program. In itself, this is a major paradigm shift that is not entirely in place yet. I am excited this year to include a young first grade student as part of our bilingual program. His family speaks the target language at home and he understands requests, however, he is non-verbal in English or his family's first language. Knowing this, I read 10 Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew by Ellen Notbohm
This quick read gives the reader an elementary understanding of Autism and I will share this with my new student's teachers. This excellent book reminds the reader of the humanity of the child with Autism and reiterates that the child is NOT the disability.
I am currently reading Paula Kluth's book, You are Going to Love This Kid
. This should be the Bible of teachers who are serious about including students with Autism or really any difference. Chock full of great information and ideas, this will be one of your best read resources.
I read a great post this summer by Jonathan Martin. He suggests principals write a "welcome back letter" to all parents. I thought this would be a fantastic idea and an opportunity to share our school vision for inclusion as we still have a number of parents who think we are "ruining our school" by letting "those students" in (as if they are part of an exclusive club. . . sheesh!). Watch for my letter in the next week as I prepare to share this vision up front so it is understand and if there are questions, maybe the letter will answer them??
Finally, I am putting it out there so I can't go back on it... my goal and promise is to blog at least once per week. I know this will help me make sense of the journey I continue on in my school and I hope will be of value to others experiencing the same things. Now that it is on the web, it will have to be so.