Do you hear them? School bells, friends. Year two, day 1, Monday, September 8, 2003. My post: fourth grade inclusion, which means the class will consist of half special education students (some who will have physical disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, others with emotional problems, others with learning disabilities), and general education students who have been identified to require more than the regular classroom environment provides. Two teachers work with these students at all times, one special education and one general education teacher. The class also has a general para-professional, and some individual students have their own para-professional assigned to accompany and assist them each day. (A para is like an assistant teacher.)
As Monday begins, my environment will be made up of 5 adults and 17 students, quite a change from one teacher to twenty-some-odd students, quite a relief for me.
I am one of the lucky ones at P.S. "She's Going Back to That School!" Ms. D, my principal, chose me to co-teach with Ms. G. Ms. G is a real teacher. Even in the midst of Mary J. Blige's kind of "drama," she maintains herself in her own foundation of what it is to educate children--a combination of the self-knowledge she has gained working as a teacher for 10 years, and the desire to understand curriculum and how students best learn it. Ms. D has come to think of Ms. G in the capacity of teacher trainer. She chose me to learn from her. It is a luxury, friends. Especially since I have never been trained, just plopped down into one of the thousands of schools across the country caught in a black hole of low performance, and doused in societal dysfunction, "where teachers can't teach and children can't learn." I heard that one at the Dean rally--some politician from Brooklyn going for the line. (Dean didn't speak in sound bites, though. He spoke in detail. He is thoughtful.)
Even with this spot, the year will not be easy. It will be hard. It will be physically and emotionally draining. But this year I hope the stretch derives in more instances from learning how to teach rather than how to keep the masses from busting out the doors. I love these children. That has carried me through and gives them some stability, but they need more. They need chances.
Pronto (soon), as my friend likes to say.