My First Week Recap

Categories: Resources

Week one is on and past the dreaded hump day mark. And I’m not gonna lie. It’s been rough. And long. And rough. Did I say that already? I must have forgotten through my week one coma. I washed my hair twice this morning because I had forgotten if I did it already. My mind was too busy racing with my seemingly never ending to do list. I made myself reread my pep talk post on Tuesday to keep back some tears of utter frustration. I did reward myself this week with: one overflowing frozen yogurt cup with one scoop from every option on the topping bar, a bravo tv marathon, and a little, tiny baby online shopping trip. Tiny. I swear. I feel like I’m on the upswing. Here’s how it went down.

Day 1 started off with optimistic enthusiasm. I know I had a crazy high case load but I was really looking forward to seeing my returning little bundles of joy. I knew one of my new students had a history of some challenging behaviors but I had prepared and had an open mind. Day 1 ended with most of the other teachers in my school giving my the stink eye on the way to the parking lot. My new kid screamed bloody murder for 90 full minutes in the hallway. Sorry guys.

Lesson learned: It’s not always like you planned and planning doesn’t fix everything.

The new student’s tantrum steamed from an elevator obsession. He has a history of some running behaviors and has a dedicated para at all times. When the para took him on a walk the elevator was found and the obsession took over. After a few rides it was nearly impossible to pry him out ย of the elevator shaft. We managed to keep him in the room the rest of the afternoon until he broke free near the end of the day. Then began 90 minute saga. The worst thing to do then would have been to give him the elevator because then he would have learned – tantrum = elevator ride. Unfortunately this lesson came at the expense of the peace and quiet of the rest of my building.

Lesson learned: Sometimes other teachers will slam their doors. And it’s okay.

In my ABA background, potential interventions for this elevator situation could be to teach him to ask for the elevator or to use elevator as a reinforcer for compliance. However in real life, I decided these were not an option for us. The elevator is officially off the table. For a few reasons: 1. It’s not a particularly appropriate or safe reinforcer. It’s not air conditioned and this student seems to be more irritable in the heat (who isn’t!) 2. To get him out of the elevator would cause another massive meltdown that is not appropriate in the building 3. (most importantly) I cannot safely get him out of the elevator. Safety is the deal breaker here. No go on the elevatorvention.

Lesson learned: Those textbooks ideas and interventions don’t always work in real life.ย 

With the help of a truly stellar temporary paraprofessional, we spent the next two days tirelessly – and I mean tirelessly – keeping this young man distracted, working, and away from the elevator. There were many, many other running attempts. He needed two adults in all transitions. One or two adults at all moments in the classroom. A simple sneeze could give him enough of an opportunity to dash out. I should join the NFL draft next year because I’m really getting to be a great blocker. The amount of constant and focused attention was ridiculously exhausting.

Lesson learned: Stick with it.ย 

And then came Wednesday. Wednesday afternoon was a little slice of key lime pie. My higher functioning students played a truly hilarious, engaging, and appropriate game of pictionary for an hour (!!!!) and my new love nut and I watched from his new favorite seat – my teacher chair (of course). He didn’t try to run. He didn’t need an adult exactly next to him at all times. he found some magnets he likes and had a totally appropriate and happy looking break.

Lesson: The small victories make it worth it.

Now maybe I’ll eat my words. I don’t think a magic wand has been waved and it will be perfect for always. But, the difference between my Monday and Wednesday between 1:30-2:30 was literally night and day. It’s the baby steps. It’s the upswing. It’s getting there. And in the mean time, I’ll eat froyo for dinner.

 

My classroom reveal will be coming up probably next week: a layout diagram, video tour, photots, schedule, and more – stay tuned! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

21 Comments

  1. Sasha, I feel for you. I know how days can seem never ending. I thoroughly enjoy your blog and I pretty much check it daily. I set up your 3 bin work task system this year and I cannot wait to use. Thank you for your inspiration and expertise! You rock!

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  2. I enjoyed reading your blog tonight. I have been going through a few tough weeks at school. My evening dinner consisted of some vanilla ice cream with a Twix ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. Wow, what a week. I am exhausted just reading that… Thank you so much for sharing! I am a new BI (one year experience) who will be accompanying my wee friend to kindergarten next week. He too is a runner and the fish tank (his obsession) that used to be there has been removed for maintenance until October. I am anticipating some noise when he discovers this (we’ve talked about it, but that doesn’t always help) and appreciate the lesson that I can’t take the other teachers’ annoyance personally. We’re all doing the best we can. And after reading this I realize it may be a blessing in disguise: the fishtank won’t be there as a constant pull to run out of the classroom and I’ll have no ability to reinforce the tantrum even if I am tempted to. So, I’ll be prepared with plenty of highly reinforcing distractors and a whole lot of patience. Thank you again for all that you do and all that you share!

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  4. Oh yes, elevator obsessions. I’ve got one of those. He’s also obsessed w/the PA speaker and tries to dash into the office to push the button. I, too, have decided that it is just not an option to make it a reinforcer…gotta be creative and find other alternatives. Glad that the start is improving. Mine has had its ups and downs, but things seem to be falling into a good routine–I’m nothing if not routine driven, ha! Just like the kiddos ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  5. I loved hearing about your first few days. It helps to remind me that I am not alone. We are all dealing with the same sorts of things. I know how exhausting that is. But I also know the small joys that are milestones for our students. I loved your point about how the textbook interventions don’t always work. Thanks again for all your posts. They are so beneficial and you have inspired me to be a better teacher for these students.

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  6. Hi!
    I am trying to make my class likebyours. It is amazing!
    What does one full day look like in your room? I am a little confused with how it runs all day together.

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  7. I have to say, it makes me feel a million times better to know you had a rough week too. I broke down crying in my principal’s office once this week and I cried almost every day when I got home! But, like you, it’s getting better – yesterday and today I felt like I actually got some productive work done with a few of my little guys, and I’m feeling hopeful that it might not be a completely chaotic year.

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  8. Thank you for posting! It is a relief when a veteran teacher is real about the the infamous “first week” thank you!

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  9. Thanks for sharing, Marie. I agree – the removal of the fish tank may really be a blessing. Hope it goes well!

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  10. Haha! I agree! I love a good routine! Thanks for sharing and reading ๐Ÿ™‚

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  11. Thank you for reading, Becky! We are all in the same boat!

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  12. Crying helps sometimes! Hang in there! It’ll get better!

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  13. We are all there! That first week is intimidating no matter how long you’ve been teaching. Phew!

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  14. Sasha,

    I am loving this blog and am glad to see there are others in the same boat I am in. My first week was rough as I have 3 new kiddos with extreme behaviors. Oh my goodness this year is going to be challenging!! But I know well worth it. Keep on posting

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  15. Sasha , you and your blog are very appreciated. I need to know that days like this happens to many others, even the best of the best (you). This allows me to share your blog with the new teacher to let her know she is doing well and it’s okay. This doesn’t mean you are a bad teacher, it means, that your skills come into play and when this happens you will understand it is all about getting through the day to set up structure.

    I learn so much from your blog. I love the email alerts. It’s almost like a good book, can’t put it down. Also, one more thing, it’s keeps me smiling and my head up. Our days are normal and we will get through it.

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  16. Thank you greatly for our sincerity. I know where your coming from I too had a student like that a bit worse but I agree text book does not always teach how o deal with real life. I thank my lord for granting lots of patience and high energy those two years.

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  17. Thanks Brooke ๐Ÿ™‚

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  18. Thank you for reading ๐Ÿ™‚

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  19. I having been using TEACCH modalities for over 20 years in many different settings. This blog is great and gives everyone a realistic view of the challenges that can occur. Thanks

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  20. Thank you so much for reading!

    Reply

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