Saturday, July 22, 2017

Autism Speaks at District 75

I got a summer school gig again this summer. Same school as last year, different building, but still in District 75.

I am happy.

Last year I did phys ed. and this year, I am teaching technology. Got a great computer room and finally able to do what I do best.

The students are fantastic. I know it is hard and a challenge to work with autistic children and students with emotional disabilities. But, there is so much support from the top down, it makes not only my job easier, but the entire staff as well.

I feel the students are so blessed to be in this school, to be in a situation where I see the students truly come first for the first time in my career. That those who wish to demean and belittle the teachers of the NYCDOE, need to open their eyes and see what great work is done not only at the school I am at, but all District 75 school across the city. I guarantee that not one single charter school can do anything that any District 75 school can do.

For the autistic students (for this blog post I am just going to concentrate on them. I have only 1 class that is standardized), I am both in awe of them and sad for them at the same time. I'm in awe that they have the ability to navigate not only going to school every day, but the joy I see in their face and hear in their voices when they accomplish something, or that there is a teacher or para that is there for them each and every day to guide and to facilitate their growth.

It is fascinating to learn about each and every student, and find out what their likes and dislikes are. There is a student that has a fascination with maps (I myself have always loved maps). When his class is done with what we are doing and it is choice time, he goes on Google Maps and I watch him. There is a pattern to what he is searching and looking at, I wish I knew, but he knows. In fact one day I was watching him and with his eyes still fixated on Maps he just blurted out, "Personal space!" I moved back a bit.

In fact on the first day of school, on July 5, he asked me what the zip code is of where I live. Today, almost three weeks later when I ask him what is my zip code, he nails it.
One day a student started just rubbing my arm out of the blue. I looked at the para to get their attention at this. The para told me that the student feels comfortable with me. Best recommendation I ever got.
I am saddened knowing that some of our most needy students are trapped inside of their bodies, not able to communicate their fears, their anxieties, their dreams, like you and I can.

When I hear a student screaming out and hearing their pain, it just hurts to hear. I know, the staff knows, that they will be all right, but at that very moment, that student doesn't.

But these students are in great hands. I see what this school is about. It is just not about the ABC's. It's about giving these students a gift, a gift of being independent, of living their lives as fulfilled as can be possible.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The 400

Wow! It has been over a month since I last blogged. Been busy.

A lot has happened in that time. But what really stands out is the new (old?) ATR system.

Chaz has written several blog posts (here and here) on what is new again. In fact I had a nice conversation with him about who these lucky 400 ATR's will be that will be sent to a school and if they pass the talent portion (rated highly effective or effective) will permanently placed, without any say from the principal, in that school.

Chaz, and I agree, said that the 400 will be those ATR's that were excessed. ATR's who were naughty and did not play well with others will still be rotated, though no one knows how long the rotations will be.

The way the DOE is going about placing 400 out of, let's say for arguments sake, 1000 ATR's (give or take a hundred) really is not a fun nor clever way of choosing who gets a chance at the grand prize of being permanently placed. Myself and The Crack Team have come up with fairer, even better methods of choosing these lucky 400.

Rent out Ichan Stadium on Randall's Island (The irony!) and have Romanesque gladiator battles to the death amongst ATR's. When there are 400 left, these will be the ATR's that are placed. In case of a match that does not end in the death of an ATR Chancellor Fariña will be in her box Caesar like and gave give a thumbs up or down. Or just release the lions until there are 400 ATR's still standing.

During the last two months of August have all principals wine and dine ATR's, cavort with them in romantic and risque situations. Go bike riding, long walks along the East River, etc... You know just like in The Bachelor. On the last day of August have a show at Radio City in which all the ATR's will be on stage and principals will give the ATR's they have selected a rose. The rest of the ATR's can leave and cry and say bitchy things about the 400 ATR's that were chosen.

Infect, or alter the DNA, of 400 ATR's with Pon Farr. Instead of wanting to mate with Stonn, the ATR's will be wanting to be permanently placed. However, they must fight to the death 400 other ATR's selected by principals. Who's ever left alive will be permanently place. Chancellor Fariña will serve as T'Pau for each match. Oh, and there will be no "tri-ox compound" allowed to be administered.

Go up to The Apollo on 125th and have a real live amateur talent show. When The Sandman got rid of 600 ATR's the 400 left will be permanently placed.

Lord of the Flies meets ATRS. Put the 1000 ATR's on North Brother Island in the East River beginning August 1. When 400 are left the contest is over.

Or you can have a demolition derby like that desert scene in Smokey and the Bandit II.

Or the best idea we thought of. The DOE can be fair and place the ATR's based on merit, respect, and honor and get rid of the bogus fair student funding, let ATR's go on true interviews and let the principals do what's best for the students and the communities.

And our union could have our backs. For real this time. 

It's that simple.