Why Can’t We Throw Things Away?

I have moved in and out of many classrooms during my teaching career. Some were spacious, full-size classrooms, others were no bigger than a closet. These rooms were in different schools, different districts, even different states, yet they all shared one thing in common. They could have been featured on an episode of Hoarders. Teachers,

Dealing with Disappointment

Today, my Jenga tower fell. Teaching students with emotional and behavioral disabilities (EBD) feels a lot like playing Jenga. Every day, I proceed carefully, cautiously, watching for tiny signs, warnings that something might cause the tower to collapse. Today it did. It takes a lot of mental and physical energy to stay this hyper-alert. It

#2-Don’t Expect Others To Understand

First of all, this is NOT a commentary on our loving spouses, family and friends. I’m sure all these people genuinely want to hear all about your day. The problem is, trying to explain the complex, deep-seated, soap opera-like drama that occurs every day at a school–to someone who doesn’t work in a school–is like

What NOT to Do #1—Don’t Do it For Them

This March, marks my fourteenth year in education. Twelve of those years I have been a special education teacher. With all this experience, you might think I would have some good advice to share. However, the advice I can offer best, is what NOT to do. #1.) Don’t Do it For Them I once found

The Observation

We’ve all had that one student. You know the one. The clever, charming child who NEVER STOPS TALKING. The one kid whose very presence changes the entire climate of your class. Cody was that student. Cody had caramel skin and wavy, brown hair. All the thirteen-year-old girls thought he was dreamy. Cody’s goal was to

The Things We Do For Students

Kermit and Steve were our classroom frogs. I purchased them mid January and created several weeks’ worth of differentiated, multidisciplinary lessons based on these amphibians. Our class desperately needed something to help us bond and get us through the long, dreaded stretch between winter break and spring. Since we weren’t allowed any classroom pets with

Lunch With Rats

If you have ever spent an entire day being talked to, touched, critiqued, questioned and stared at by a group of nine and ten-year-old’s, you understand the importance of lunch. Lunch is a precious, child-free gift from God to teachers. It is a time that I have always preferred spending in my classroom-alone. This was

Missing Student

From time to time I Google former students. I admit it, I do. My first students are now in their early twenties- adults. Some of them are my Facebook friends and I love watching their lives continue from afar. Jasmine was in seventh grade when she was my student. She would now be seventeen. Recently,

The Present

It was a sunny, spring day in the beginning of March. The day began like most others, as ten students clomped into our elementary, self-contained special ed room wearing oversized coats, noisy boots and multi-colored backpacks. We stood for the pledge and the daily announcements. Finally, the buzz settled and the students took their seats.

Is Special Ed Forever?

In November, I sent my first student to a general education class. It was for math only, fifty minutes a day, in a fourth-grade classroom—one grade level lower than the student’s actual age. I initiated and pursued this placement because the student was out-performing the other students in my self-contained class, and I had a