How can this cute little face be so much trouble?
Notice all the goodies on the teacher's desk right behind herFirst of all, thank you for all the positive comments, emails and phone calls today. It means more to me than you'll ever know. And your comments helped remind me of something I've known all along but somehow forgot along the way. . . I need to follow my heart and do what makes Morgan the happiest. That said, she seemed pretty dang happy when I went to pick her up from school today but her teacher was another story.
The school psychologist, resource teacher and 1st grade teacher wanted to talk to me after school about the things that worked and the things that didn't. Her teacher (Mrs. D) started crying and said she felt like she had failed. Failed Morgan and failed all of her other students too. She is an amazing teacher and everyone at the school requests her for their child's teacher. She is everything you could ever dream for a teacher. But she wasn't able to shine today. I think it was her first time in her career that she wasn't productive and it was her students first impression of her. She was left alone with Morgan. No help from the resource teacher, her two aides or the psychologist. They did come down to help her with bathroom needs but that was all. Mrs. D kept saying she just felt so overwhelmed and was having such a hard time because she is usually a good teacher but didn't feel that today. She was a mess. She didn't get to eat lunch because she was with Morgan. She didn't get to do the 'get to know me bags' with the kids because of Morgan. She felt like she wasn't able to accomplish anything with her students today. "I don't think the kids even got to do one fun thing today."
She then started to describe Morgan. Things that her other teachers knew to expect because they are special ed teachers. . . she has a hard time with personal space, she kept touching the other kids and their papers, she hit someone on the back as she walked by him, she kicked a few kids, she likes to wash her hands and would have done it for 30 minutes if I would have let her, she turned off the lights (for some reason that one makes me laugh because I can totally see her doing it), she wouldn't come in from recess and I had to leave the other kids to go get her, etc.
The resource teacher just sat there and didn't say a word. Didn't offer any options to help. I finally said, "What about your 2 aides? You don't have any students until after Labor Day. Could one of them come in here and help out? This current situation is not an option. If there is no assistance then this is never going to work." It was an awful situation. I know exactly what the teacher is feeling. It is how I feel almost every day . . . overwhelmed with not knowing how best to help Morgan. She is not supposed to feel that way.
The psychologist was optimistic that with some positive reinforcement with stickers and candy rewards that Morgan should be independent on the playground and coming back into class on her own in one week. Seriously? Because I am sure that cute paper necklace you made to put stickers on will be ripped apart before morning recess. We are still talking about a first grader with Down syndrome, right? Independence is a wonderful goal but she is going to need an aide to help her on the playground and in the lunchroom all year, not one week.
They finally came to a decision that one of the resource aides will spend the first week in the classroom to help out. Apparently we have to try everything we can before we can go to the district and request more help. Basically it's a great system -- let everyone feel overwhelmed and fail before we do something to make it a positive experience. I understand her teacher's concerns. All the kids are young and adjusting to full day school and the new routines. If they don't get it these first few days, weeks even, then she is looking at a year of chaos and trouble. How does she explain to the kids that it is ok for Morgan to not be following all the rules but not ok for them? I even suggested I keep Morgan home for the first few weeks and try it again when all the other kids have adjusted to the new routine. Apparently it's against the law for me to not bring her to school when it is in session. Who knew? :)
I feel good about the cluster classroom choice, too. I have a friend with a daughter in that class and there are only 7 kids in the class with a teacher, aides, and speech therapist. It doesn't sound so bad now. I know Morgan would gain more academically at the cluster but that her social skills would not progress as quickly. She would be in a room of kids with delayed speech and behavioral issues. I don't feel like we've (Morgan, Mrs. D, and I) failed if this is where Morgan ends up. Mrs. D. said she would feel like she failed Morgan if I left the school. I told her it doesn't mean we failed if this is not the best option for Morgan. There is not only one right way. And the cluster room may be the best option for Morgan and her needs.
One more thing . . . on the way home, Morgan was speaking in longer sentences and more than she has in a long time, if ever. And that was just after one day.