An Autism Connection

Saturday, September 6, 2014

I have a new blog...

Just a reminder to folks that I have a different blog now to reflect my new job. My new program is severe/profound, although I still case manage inclusion students with Autism. However, I don't see them daily. Please head on over to A SPECIAL ED CONNECTION to learn more about my new classroom.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Heads up: New job, new name, new blog

I recently applied for and got, a teaching position at a high school in my current district. It's actually a feeder school for the middle school I have been teaching in for the last 6 years. My dream has been to get back to teaching in high school because that is where my heart is. There's such a focus on academics at the other levels. I believe that as they get older, the focus needs to change, so that by the time they are in high school, the goal is centered on life after school. This means a much bigger focus on life and vocational skills, and less on academics, although I never give up on teaching this, even when they have very low skill levels. It breaks my heart to think of my students after the age of 21, sitting at home watching TV all day, every day, dependent on others for their every need, for the rest of their lives. How boring, sad, and lonely that must be.  This has happened to a few students I have had in the past, and makes me so upset! Every person deserves a life where they are as independent as possible and contributing members of society,  enjoying life to it's fullest, no matter how severe their disability.  If I can do something so that this never happens to any of my other students, I will. This job is an opportunity for me to work on this.

The new position is working with students that are medically fragile, which is a good fit for me, as prior to being a teacher, I was a nurse. None of my incoming students have autism, although that is always a possibility in the future if they are also medically fragile. Since my focus is no longer autism alone, I thought it fitting to change the name. In order to have my URL fit the new name, I needed to change blogs. Without further ado, I redirect you to my new blog Special Ed Connections . I look forward to sharing this new journey with you.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

I'm Baaaaaaack

I just got back from my fabulous trip to Colorado, where I participated in the NEA Rep Assembly,

 went camping and hiking,
 Garden of the Gods

 The Great Sand Dunes National Park

Dry Creek Trail- Boulder

 and hung out with old friends.

Now I am starting to think about the next school year, even though I have a few weeks to go before I have to go back. Because I am anal, this Thursday I will be going back  in to my classroom to re-arrange furniture that was taken out into the hallway so the custodial staff could wax the floors and generally clean the classroom. I also plan to meet with my Principal since I am co-head of the Dept and to see about my supplies and curriculum. We'll see how that all goes. This year I am not so stressed as last year was fairly successful. I am just going to tweak what I did and try to be a little more organized and mindful. To help me out, I dropped about $150 on the big TPT sale that was happening yesterday and today. I will write more about what I got and what I am doing with them in my classroom in the next few days, so stay tuned.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Special Education Blog Hop

It's been awhile since I have blogged. I needed a mental health break, so I have taken one, and it's been great. I am currently in the great state of Colorado, enjoying the sunshine and great company of friends. I came for the NEA annual convention as a delegate, which was a marvelous experience. Afterwards, I met with old friends. So, I will be away from blogging for the next few weeks and will start again in August. But I am still reading blogs and wanted to participate in this blog hop. Unfortunately, I tried to do it by phone, and that wasn't working too well, so I am delayed in posting after I shared my link. However, I have brief access to a computer, and thought I would try to finish up.

You can find the other link-ups at the Tales of a Carolina Girl.

I wasn't able to add the template so I am just going to add my info below.

1. Name: Jannike (pronounced Ya-ni-ka and rhymes with Hanukkah). I'm originally from Norway.

2. Job title: Special Education Teacher, Autism Self-Contained; Co-Chair Special Education Dept.

3. Grades: 6-8

4. Number of years teaching: 12 years total. 1 year as a high school Autism teacher; 5 years as a life skills middle school teacher; 5 years as a self-contained resource teacher-middle school; 1 year  in my current position. Prior to that I was a Paraprofessional for 3 years in a life skills high school program/transition program; prior to that I was a Nurse.

5. Advice: I quite simply could not do my job without the support of the paraprofessionals in my program. When I first started, I tried to be friends with my Paras, since I had been one myself, which made it difficult when I had to give them direction they didn't agree with, or when conflict arose. This is different than being friendly. It took some time for me to see this difference, but I finally did. We might be the same age, or have lots of different or even more, experiences, but we have different roles. So  I  had to establish boundaries. One way to do this is to be very clear at the beginning of the school year what our individual roles are, and what my expectations are for the education of the students we all work with but that I am ultimately responsible for. I have written a very detailed Handbook that outlines all my expectations, our individual roles each day, and with specific students, as well as some educational info regarding Autism and other disabilities. I go over this prior to the school year so that we are all on the same page and I can answer any questions. I also do this with new Paras. I have shared this handbook with my administrators so that they know what is happening in my program. But I also listen to my Paraprofessionals and we plan many activities together. They run stations in my classroom depending on interest and need, and assist me in carrying out the IEP goals and objectives. I never forget that we are a team and I respect what they do, and show it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Winding down + freebie

I am sooooo ready for summer break!

We still have 17 teaching days left, though, so it'll be awhile yet. I have a few goals for the end of the school year. Here's a couple. More to come later.

1. For the first time ever, I plan to be out of there on the last teaching day. That has never happened before in all the years I have taught. But this year I am doing it because I am BURNED OUT, lol. No foolin'! I need up outta there as soon as possible!! So, to make it happen, I am cleaning/organizing/packing either 1 box, 1 shelf, or 1 pile every day. Room's looking better already. The one thing that might hold me up are my duties as a new Co-Chair  of our SpEd. Dept. But it doesn't pay enough for me to stay later so they better bring whatever it is soooon, or it will have to wait until the end of August. I am not joking!

2. I am also working on my units for the beginning of the school year. I adapted this book from tarheel reader and added some icons to match the pages. Here's one book, but there will be a few others as well in the next few days. I'll post them as soon as I'm finished. Naturally, I did desserts first, but the healthy stuff is coming.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Social skills curriculum ideas for next year.

Since I have a year under my belt, I know what social skills lessons worked and didn't work this past year, and have ideas that I want to focus on for next year. The following is what I came up with for the entire year, just so that I have a framework to go with. Obviously, if an issue comes up, I can be flexible enough to change my plans, but I hate constantly flying by the seat of my pants, which is what I did a lot of this year, so I wanted a plan in place. It makes it easier to prep, too.

Many of these topics are ones I worked on this year, and there were some I identified as needing for next year, or wished I had time to work on. All of my current students are returning next year, as well as a couple of new ones, so I think this will work. They are broken into weekly themes. I do social skills in 20 min sessions, 3-4 times a week. They are short and sweet, with a day or two to practice. I find the curriculum itself in many places: Google it, TPT, pinterest, teacher blogs, or I just make it myself if I can't find something or it doesn't work. I will share more this summer as I start planning for the first few months.

SEPTEMBER- Skills in the classroom
Classroom rules/whole body listening/using a quiet voice
Asking for help /asking questions/interrupting
Expected and unexpected behavior

Identifying own emotions /Expressing emotions
Recognizing others’ emotions /Facial expressions / body language
Positive and negative emotions/making good choices
Halloween manners/trick or treating

NOVEMBER- Feelings Cont’d/Manners
Dealing with fear, disappointment, anger
Apologizing /saying sorry
Table manners/setting the table

DECEMBER- Caring about others
Understanding other’s behaviors/impact of your behavior on others
Kindness/ helping/caring/showing an interest in others
Social service project

Acknowledging others /Greetings /Taking turns/waiting
Personal space /Appropriate touch
Good friends/not so good friends
Empathy/seeing other’s point of view

FEBRUARY-Conversation skills
Starting conversations /Taking turns in conversation /Ending conversations
Using humor/jokes
Body language review
Small talk/ conversation topics

MARCH- Problem Solving
Good/bad choices/Dealing with consequences
Bothering others
How big is the problem?
Solving problems/conflict

Introduction to superflex/Rock Brain
Brain eater
Body Snatcher
Mean Jean

MAY- JUNE  Superflex cont’d/Personal safety
Space Invader
Stranger awareness
Public  versus Private
Introduction to Circles curriculum

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Community based Instruction-McDonald's

At the beginning of the school year, I asked families for donations for the classroom and for $25 to be used in the community to practice money skills, etc. Not one person sent in money. I asked again, and nothing. Some of my families are low income but not all. So, not sure what I did wrong here, or if there's a different way to approach this, so if anyone has any suggestions, I am all ears. My original intent was to be able to purchase food for some small cooking activities,  purchase a meal, or to visit the dollar store. Basically activities that would have the student understand money and use it appropriately when out in the community. With no money,  I had to rethink what  we were going to do while we were out there.

We ended up going out into the community regularly, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, except when the weather was awful. But we've had some good weather recently and have ventured forth. I have done a variety of things with them while we were out. We practiced looking for our community signs, crossing the street safely, doing scavenger hunts in a variety of businesses, going to the library, our local community garden, and just going to the park to enjoy some relaxation. The students enjoy these activities and love it when they see the community PEC signs on their schedules. It ended up working out just fine.

This past week we had beautiful weather with temperatures in the 80s. If you know anything about Seattle, you know that is hot for us. The thought of going out anywhere in these sizzling  warm temperatures when we're not used to it was not a fun thought. I couldn't think of one thing any of us would want to do until I thought of ice cream cones. There is a McDonalds not too far from the school and I asked the kids if they wanted to go there for our next outing. Sheer excitement. At first I thought just ice cream but they have a dollar menu (and since I was paying, that was the menu we were going to use) and I have some students that are incredibly picky about food, so I thought I would let them pick.  I made this page with icons for them to choose what they wanted to get ahead of time and to practice ordering. Since we were doing it the next day, I didn't work with them on money. But it was relatively cheap, so I will do it again before school is out, and we'll practice with the next dollar strategy. Here is the menu I came up with. I got the idea from someone's blog and I searched for it but couldn't find it. If you know whose it is, please let me know so I can give them credit.

The outing went very well and the students did a great job. We had fun and I look forward to doing it again shortly. If you want a copy of this, I have saved it on google doc in a format so that you can change it to another restaurant, if you need to. I put velcro in the middle to store the symbols, and the sentence, "I want...Please",  goes on the bottom. There's enough space there for ordering up to 3 different items.