School time approaches!
First up, Gameboy's IEP placed him at a middle school other than the one nearest our home. However, while the IEP put him there, nothing in the system indicated he would go there. Thankfully, I was pretty insistent that he see the school BEFORE the BTS, because 1200 other students on campus at the same time pretty much would ensure that he would get very little out of the exercise. Doing my best to prepare them, I created a narrative about the Gameboy. It details his diagnoses, what triggers his meltdowns, what his likes and dislikes are, information to prepare them about this wonderful and frustrating person in their charge.
We showed up at the school Wednesday morning and I had to enroll him. Yep, filled out all this paperwork. Afterwards, the very nice, capable and friendly social worker that I'd met at Gameboy's IEP meeting last spring (Ms. M) took us around campus. She's a lovely young lady-I like her a lot. We saw the various buildings: the gym, the DEES wing that he'll probably spend a lot of his time, the science classrooms, the six grade wing and the media center.
We met one of the aides and then the principal-who informed Gameboy that the incident reports she found in his file were not going to be tolerated here. Hmmm, let's see if she makes an impression that we as parents have been unable to do in 11.4 years! Ms. M suggested we come back for BTS, perhaps his schedule would be in the system by Thursday night.
Thursday afternoon, I call Ed. Pick a kid or pick a school, I'll take the other kid to the other school. I arrive home at ten till 6 and see the parking lot for Chef Jr's school is already filling up for the open house. In years past, you would go, each teacher would be in their room and you could go introduce your child. Perhaps you could get a syllabus or supply list beyond what each grade had published. If you were really lucky, you might avoid one parent hogging the teacher's ear the whole time you were in the room. Snacks were served in the cafeteria, and tables were set up for various groups (scouts, pta, fundraisers, etc).
Thinking this would be the case, we decided to go as a family. Alas, this was the year for a change. The principal decided to have an assembly in the cafeteria, in which every teacher was introduced prior to opening up the classrooms. We sat for 25 minutes and didn't meet Chef's teacher-the whole time we were worried about missing Gameboy's BTS down the road. We decided to duck out before the end of the assembly.
Then we drove down to the middle school, where there is NO parking. Overflow is directed on to the field behind the school, but the way some idiots parked left more than half the field inaccessible to others coming in. I'd thought we'd have a long walk and even talked of using the walker (bad leg day all around for me). We had to come out of that parking and lucked into someone leaving closer to the school.
Once parked, we go over to the office and find that Gameboy is still not scheduled here. We know where his one teacher's classroom is (the one that last year's teacher raved about-she created the program he attended in elementary school). Yay, we meet his teacher. Boo, she looks to be about six months pregnant. I am happy for her-but I know how this kid is with ANY change and hate for him to bond with her and lose her so soon into a school year!
She suggests coming in at 11 today. If he's got a schedule, great. If not, she can sit down with us and the Assistant Principal and carve one out. Her thinking is that if he doesn't have one, we'll be able to custom fit his schedule with the best teachers for him (silver lining, I must admit). We leave her classroom and go over to the science classrooms. This is Gameboy's favorite subject, and it'd be good to meet the teachers.
I'll interject here that this is NOT what we expected after his IEP. We'd been under the impression that he'd be in a contained class with pull outs only for a modified gym class, lunch and English. It's looking more like he'll be in the holy hell of 8 periods of non stop transitions with the general population in classes of 20-25 other bodies making far too much noise for his liking. Oh, crap. There would be an aide, but not a one to one, just one that would help all the ESE kids. What happens if one has a meltdown?
I think Ed and I both had our issues with this last night, and while exhaustion gave me a good nights rest, the dreams were not pleasant.
11am found us back at the middle school. Ms. M, Ms. Mc(the ESE teacher) and the AP sat in a conference room with our family and convened our own mini IEP meeting today. We're asked about Gameboy, what are his issues? He's got Asperger's Syndrome, ADHD, OCD, ODD, SID, and probably anxiety, too (trust me, if he doesn't, a year of middle school will cause it!).
We're asked what his challenges are, how he did on the tests. 3s, 4s and 5s on the FCATs-to them, he's clearly an advanced student. Woah folks, emotionally, he's not. Put him in the advanced classes and he'll disrupt his peers. We would love nothing more than to have him there, but that's just not fair to the rest of the class-and is a recipe for the kid to get picked on more than I'm sure he already does.
Ed and I explain enough for them to decide that the original plan of contained classes with pull outs is the best plan for our child. Their goal is admirable, as they want to get him out into the general population. They tell us that the students of this school are very forgiving: it appears to be a magnet of sorts for a range of ESE kids.
I sure hope what they tell us is really the case with hormonal kids, that they really don't pick on the ESE students. Knowing what classes he loves (and excels in), they'll probably look to motivate him out into those classes. It would be incredible to get the child to be in an advanced science class. He has a lot of knowledge he can share with his peers on that front.
Monday doesn't scare me as much as it did when I woke up this morning.
On the other child front, he was quite worried that he didn't meet HIS teacher last night. This afternoon, Ed took him over to the elementary school and I think it was better for Chef Jr that he went today. His teacher gave him a bag with "Tips for 3rd Grade Success", which we can all learn from. The bag contained the following items, with this note by way of explanation:
In this kit are some reminders to help you be a success in my 3rd grade class. You will find:
An eraser to remind you that it is OKAY to make mistakes-that's the best way to learn!
A pencil to remind you that there are still many wonderful things that we are going to learn in class together this year.
A rubber band to remind you to stretch and grow as a learner.
A crayon to remind you to color your world brightly every day.
A band-aid to remind you to help heal any classmate's hurt feelings.
A smiley sticker to remind you that every day is a new day and to come in with a new, positive attitude!
Some gum to remind you that we all stick together and always help each other out!
Candy hugs and kisses to remind you that you are loved by many people, here and at home.
A lifesaver is to remind you that you can come to me anytime you need help with something or just want to talk or anytime you just need anything!
Welcome to the third grade! I know you are going to bring a lot of PRIDE to our class! I can't wait to get to know you! Ms. E
This is the coolest back to school thing I have ever seen.
Last year, after the poor fit with his second grade teacher (they are too similar to each other), we voiced our concerns to the principal. He had said he had the perfect teacher for Chef Jr this year-the same teacher that was suggested by Gameboy's teacher. They both said she's very organized, has a way of sharing her passion for learning and getting the kids fired up to do their best. He talked non stop about getting this bag to me tonight.
All in all, being an involved parent pays off. Older child looks to now have the placement he needs (instead of going the first few weeks and it going abysmally) and younger son has a teacher that is a good fit. Cross your fingers...