Student Names

Learning my student’s names as a classroom teacher was one of my top priorities in order to establish a relationship with each one.  Now in the administrator role for the first time it is a bit overwhelming.  However, I have reminded myself almost daily that I have not had any interaction with any on the 260+ students in the building prior to last week.

The names that I have learned have come from positive and not so positive interaction.  Discussions that I have had with the principal and counselor about students begin to click after seeing the student once or twice and interacting with them.  The ones I am having the hardest time remember are the littlest students who want nothing more than positive interaction.  I’ve tried sayings to remember a few, which has and has not worked.  I’ve tried pairing siblings together, again has and has not worked.  A few have made it into a game for me, which I think they and I enjoy as it creates even more interaction.  I know over time I will have the majority of names down and won’t feel horrible.

Until then I will keep working to better myself and learning a few more names.  The best part has been seeing the smiles that light up each students face when I call them by name.

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You’re Out!

What a learning experienced today.  I got my first opportunity to work with a student in the behavior support classroom that was in crisis mode.  This student is typically a runner who leaves the building, has the staff follow them for about thirty minutes, and then returns to the building to freshen up.  This student came to behavior support at the end of the school year last year, so we have only had the student for about five weeks.

Today the behavior support staff could tell that the student was going to run as they were showing signs of frustration.  Typically the student will run shortly after, today was a bit different.  The student decided to toss desks and at that moment the teacher cleared the room and locked down the room with the student in it.  This was the first time the student had been forced to remain in the building.  The student had the principal, counselor, and a paraprofessional in the room with them.  I was outside the room observing and making sure the other students were where they needed to be safe.

Being overwhelmed the student began throwing chairs at the paraprofessional.  As the paraprofessional moved to get away the student continued to follow throwing chairs and desks.  I was able to open one door to distract the student to one side of the room, while the paraprofessional was able to get out through the other door across the room.  The student then began throwing games, pencils, and various school paperwork.  Upon seeing the teacher laptop the student grabbed and attempted to get out of the classroom for about ten minutes.  Once the student could not get out of the classroom they sat down in on e of the corners of the room and opened up the laptop.

Upon opening up the laptop the student was able to delete files and search the internet as the laptop was not locked down by the teacher.  Great learning opportunity here to remind myself and all staff to enable their autolock to ensure students do not have access to sensitive and/or confidence material.  Throughout the principal sat with the student and talked them down.  However, the student deleted all files on the teacher computer, replaced the background, and downloaded multiple inappropriate images.

At that time the student said they would go with the counselor to talk.  We realized that no matter what we would have to let the student out and more than likely the student would run. To our surprise the student ran, but not out of the building.  Instead the student found a yoga ball and begin bounce and kicking it around the building.  The student then started throwing it at the paraprofessional.  I was able to bounce the ball out of the students reach and threw back to the paraprofessional who locked it into an office.  To my surprise the student found a barrel by the gym teachers door that had ten inch foam balls.  Thats when I got smacked with multiple balls.  As I watch the student walk away the counselor came to assist in locking down other rooms in the vicinity.  The student came running back and threw another ball at my chest.  Almost immediately the counselor said, “you’re out!”  At that moment I realized what a great group of people I work with as we take these inactions with students for what they are, nothing, but not knowing how to get someones attention.  The comment made me laugh, as the counselor was right I was out and switched for someone else to monitor the student.

More than anything I am learning to be even more patience than what I have been when working with students.  Most likely any other building would have handle this student differently.  Talking down a student to get them regulated, then relate, allows us to reason with each.  Again, I work with an amazing group of individuals and love what has been established here in the building.

Running

We are officially off and running, literally running.  It all started on Tuesday when the long term substitute began having heart issues about mid-morning.  We decided I could go up to the classroom and cover until a substitute could show up.  Before I knew it I was jumping right back into the classroom into my strong suite with teaching the students how to use technology.  To be honest it was probably the best case scenario for the students as an additional substitute would not have had access to student accounts for log-in information.  After my jaunt back in the classroom we began discussing a plan for the following day as there were no substitutes available until the afternoon.

On Wednesday I started the morning off back in the classroom teaching math, my favorite, and then whole group language arts.  Throughout the morning two students were pushing each others buttons.  For some reason they had been left together since the beginning of the year, and things have been escalating.  I was able to move and discussed the concerns with the substitute upon her arrival.  As soon as I left the classroom I realized the school social worker, a paraprofessional, and the principal were out in the community looking for a student who ran.  I found the counselor who had stayed behind and was monitoring the situation from the building to give me an update.  At that moment we witnessed the student walking back into the building while over the radio we heard that they had lost a visual of the student. I followed the student back to the classroom before he left to put on deodorant and then walked around the hallways before ending up in the social workers room.

Immediately following we had a paraprofessional interview to fill the last opening for the resource room.  We had already conducted about five interviews and none were a good fit.  From the beginning we could tell this individual would be a good fit.  During the interview the candidate had the opportunity to ask questions and I loved that the candidate asked us what is the best and worst thing about the school.  It showed me that they wanted to know the good and bad about working at the school.  After checking references we notified the candidate that we would love to have them at McCandless and they accepted the job.

The rest of the school day went well until we received a phone call from the busing service about a missing student around 3:30, thirty minutes after dismissal.  We were at first confused as we were unaware of any missing student.  After talking with the busing service it became clear that a parent had notified the busing service and requested busing for their student without enrolling the student in our school or the school that they had last attended in the district.  We were able to contact the parent and get them enrolled in the school, but it appears that they have missed the bus on the first day that they were to be here.

It’s only the first week and a few opportunities to continue learning.  I look forward to each additional opportunity as I become more comfortable in the role as an assistant.

First Week of School!

The first week of school has come and gone.  On Monday I finally got to meet and work with teachers in the building during an afternoon session.  It came and went.  The best part is I was able to begin putting faces with names.  Granted I still had very limited knowledge on who was who and what grade they were teaching this year.

Tuesday rolled around, which ended up being the longest day of the week due to Open House in the evening.  Even though it was a long day there still seemed like there was very little time to prepare the building and assist teachers.  Enrollment happened one week earlier and parents were still coming in to enroll. Teachers were trying to make everything personalized for their students and they had to continue to check the roster for updates throughout the day.  During Open House it came to our attention the one particular classroom had a parent who had been physically assaulted by another fifteen years earlier.  The assaulted parent was terrified for the students  and their safety.  The parent requested special permission to drop off late and pick up.

On Wednesday the day before school, we discuss the concern with the director of student services.  We came up with a couple of options for the parent.  The first was to move the student in the other classroom.  The second was a guaranteed transfer by the district as long as the other parent had a child in the building.  Talking with the parent it was clear the trauma that was endured and now reliving it.  The parent choose to take the transfer and transport their student to another school.  I felt for the parent as we had identified the student as one that we needed to keep a close eye on, and were looking forward to the opportunity to work with the student and parent.  I am glad that the option was available.  Later in the day another parent arrived who was unhappy with a principal from another school district.  The principal recommended holding back a student on a behavioral IEP.  The parent wanted the student to move on from Kindergarten to first grade.  We both felt for the parent and the building principal explained the process for out of district transfer while I observed and played with the student.  From my observations it was apparent that the student had a very creative imagination and was on the go constantly, as well as talking non-stop.  After speaking with the parent we decided to follow up and talk with the SPED directors to get a feel if we should move forward in taking the out-of-district transfer request.  Upon mentioning the name of the student to the SPED director, she told us she just talked to the director of student services about the student as a request had been made to attend another school in the district.  At this point we were out as the parent was not open about the individuals she had already spoken to.

Thursday was the first day of school for students.  The first day of school is always great as the school feels whole again.  It was an amazing day that came and went.  With such a awesome staff the day went like any other “normal” school day.  The kindergarten students were excited while mom and dad struggled to watch their baby go to school.  The sixth graders walked around with pride and joy knowing that it is their last year here at the school.  I spent the day trying to get to know as many students as possible, which is an overwhelming task.  The major hiccup of the day was at the end of the day with the busses.  The district hires out a bussing service to transport students who require bussing for special needs and safety.  The company did not produce a bussing list for us or notify parents when or where students would be picked up.  We took it with a grain of salt and created a list of students who rode the bus.  We were amazed as we had no phone calls or students get on the wrong bus.  I attribute this to the caring students and bus drivers, who do work for another company, caring for the safety of the students.  By the end of the day I was worn out, but decided to take the time to spoil the family by cooking steak for dinner to celebrate our first day in our new district.

Friday was quiet for the most of the morning up until lunch when things started to develop.  A second grader who got upset about a choice during PE decided to throw equipment around and then walked out to their designated quiet space.  At the time everything appeared to be going well.  During lunch a new batch of kindergartens quickly alerted us to some special needs.  Two students could not clearly verbalize their needs, and a third was sensitive to noise and refused to eat.  These three kindergarten students are high on my list to work with and get a plan together to help them be successful.  The rest of the afternoon went well until the last thirty minutes when my second grade friend began throwing and tearing up his classroom.  We were called down to the classroom to assist and were able to have the student leave the classroom.  Upon leaving the student went to the foyer airlock and began kicking and pounding on the glass doors.  Not being officially Mandt trained in the district I took an observational role and listened in on the principal talking to the student.  After about five minutes we decided to trade off and I was given the suggestions of providing the student non-preferred items of a puzzle, squishy blue toy, or silly putty in the designated quiet space to calm down.  After we both walked away I went back and talked to the student about using the items.  The student was intrigued by the idea of the squishy blue toy.  Student asked what would happen if they did not like the toy, and I said we can figure it, but you first have to make it to the quiet spot to even see if you like it.  I had the student hooked and we walked down to the quiet spot next to my office.  Upon feeling and pulling the toy the student said I don’t like it.  What else you got?  Quickly I found the silly putty, which had not even been opened and told the student they would be the first to use.  I asked if they would like to open and quickly the student did.  The student was fascinated by the putty and quickly calmed down.  After about ten minutes in the room we walked back down to the classroom to assist in cleaning up the room.  The classroom teacher already took the time to clean up the room.  The student was polite and told the teacher thank you and asked if there was anything that could be cleaned or put away.  To watch a child throw a major fit, then turn around and be the sweetest kid is weird, amazing, heartbreaking, etc.  My description does not do it justice for what I witnessed.  I look forward to working with students who do not know how to handle themselves and make them a better person.

Day One

After sixteen years as a classroom teacher I made the transition to a building administrator or as many of my mentors have jokingly called the “dark side”.

Today was my first “official” day as a school administrator, specifically an elementary assistant principal. As I was walking out for the day I was asked by one of the central office staff how my day went it. I responded with, “It went as expected for any day you sit through a meeting.” Which got me a little laugh. Meetings are more difficult when you return from summer break, especially when it’s the first thing one does before reporting to the building.

I feel fortunate to have many colleagues in my new district that are new to their building and/or first time administrators as we are relying on each other as a team. Throughout the day we discussed how many days our teaching staff will be sitting through meetings. New teachers to the district will be sitting through four days of new teacher meetings in addition to the other scheduled meetings with all staff. About midway through the day one of the other admins popped off, “no wonder our teachers complain this is information overload as my brain really hurts from what we just discussed.” This quote that I read over the summer came to mind

As I begin to prepare for the return of teachers and the beginning of the school year with the building principal I hope I continue to not enjoy meetings. Meetings are necessary, but can be overwhelming. Keep it simple and put yourself in their seat. This way I hope to remember what it’s like to sit in the teacher seat.

I took the time tonight to enjoy time with my eldest daughter and in-laws during dinner. Even enjoyed some time in the pool and a trip for some ice cream. That puts day one in the books. I look forward to sharing my adventure as a school administrator throughout the school year.