Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Staff Party

On Wednesday, one of the other teachers arranged a picnic for the school. 

When the picnic was announced, I discussed with all the aides. We determined that while a couple of the students would enjoy the day (Jennifer, Jonas, Yohana), the rest would be difficult to get out to the park. It would be too much trouble for insufficient reward. 

So, we decided to split up the class for the day. 

One of the aides could take the students who could go to the park. The rest of us would remain behind with the students who couldn't go. And I had to remain behind because we needed a certificated person with the students who remained behind. 

The school has a small kitchen. We use it for cooking lessons for the students. But lately the staff will use it to make lunch. And on that Wednesday, the aides decided to take advantage of the empty kitchen. 

We had salmon. We had dessert. We had just a few students who kind of had free time in the way of students who don't get to go on the "field trip" have. 

We kind of had a party for ourselves. 

It was a nice, peaceful afternoon. 

Then the rest of the students got back. They seemed to have had a fun time. Jonas returned with a Styrofoam airplane. They had played games, eaten hot dogs, and had a good time hanging out with the rest of the school. 

I was glad they got to go. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Jail or Death


Speculative fiction has a long history of taking the issues of the day and reframing them in a new context with the hope that people will look at them in a new way. Our "unprecedented" times are bringing all sorts of old ways and old thinking back to the forefront. On Tuesdays, I present "what if?" questions. Previously, the intent was as an idea generator. It still is. But now, I ask that you really think about all the repercussions that these ideas will have. If only these were just thought exercises.

What if getting medical help meant you risked going to jail? What if not getting that medical help might kill you?

Sadly, this is real.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Time Crunch

I am trying to come to terms with the fact that I won't have the top I'm knitting for niece done "in time". So far:

I don't generally knit to deadline unless I'm sure I'm going to make it. If I know a Christmas present won't be done in time for Christmas, I'm fine with sending the gift out in January, or March, or later. (I've done it before.) 

But in this case, niece is going to be visiting in a couple weeks, and I kind of wanted to have this done so I don't have to mail it. 

It's not going to be done.

But it'll be close. So, at least I can make sure what I have done will fit. I hope.

Previous posts about this top: 

Friday, May 20, 2022

Pit Stop

At the end of the day, we take the students to the gate, and we wait for the buses. 

We have a locked gate and a fenced in waiting area, although half the time we'll leave things unlocked as there are staff around and about supervising. Someone stands at the gate to make sure no one wanders off. 

While most of the students travel to and from school via bus, a few are picked up and dropped off by their families. 

On this day, I was manning the gate. The buses had not yet arrived. A woman approached the gate. 

I recognized her. She's Pizza's mom. 

Usually she waits in her car. Pizza looks out for her car and lets us know when he sees it. But Pizza's class hadn't been dismissed yet. 

Apologizing, she asked if she could be let in to use the restroom. Of course I let her. Another teacher went about finding a key to the closest restroom (as we did not have one--we usually use a different restroom). 

It was at about this time that Pizza arrived at the dismissal area. And he saw his mom's car. But he didn't see his mom. 

I pointed her out and told him it would be a couple minutes. 

He accepted this explanation.

But then he was looking out at the car again. Pizza has a tendency to get anxious about things. He couldn't understand why his mom's car was out there but his mom was not.

I repeated that she was in the restroom and would be out shortly. 

He expressed palpable relief when she reappeared to claim him. 

There's a reason these students are at this school. Many times they can seem quite normal. But then something like this occurs, nothing major but a change to the routine, and it throws them for a loop.

Luckily, Pizza is one of the more "advanced" students, so he can cope better with these sorts of things. Of course, "better" is relative, and at this school, that meant that it made for a couple anxious minutes for Pizza. 

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Buttoned Up

There is software that the school uses for lessons for the students. It's geared towards their level, understanding-wise and age-wise. That is, the words and sentences are very simple, but the topics are geared towards adults learning to navigate the world.

This month's topic is laundry.

They actually do laundry. We have a washer and dryer on campus, and they'll assist in washing towels and such. 

On this particular Tuesday, the story we read had to do with not throwing away clothes that can be fixed. The character in the story was taught that she could treat stained clothes, have pants hemmed, and replace a button on a blouse. 

When we got to that point, I asked the students if they knew how to sew on a button. They did not. 

And now I had a lesson for them. 

Vera is a seasoned sewer, so I asked her if she had the materials to sew on a button. She did, and she brought them the next day. 

I was not expecting them to become expert button-sewers. I have done a couple crafty-type things with them, and they have a hard time. But the point of the story was that sewing on a button was doable, so I wanted them to at least have a go at doing it. 

And they managed it. It took a while. I don't think they'd be able to repeat it without help. (If I was the permanent teacher, button sewing would be part of the curriculum every time the laundry unit rolled around.) 


In the second image, we had to cut the thread as Jennifer had gone around the fabric rather than over and under it. Definitely a good first attempt.

It's something we would have spent a lot more time on if I was seeking mastery. But a lot of what we do with them is for introduction and so they know it's possible. So, by that standard, it was a success. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Sneakerella Showing

First thing after the students arrive for the day, we do "calendar". I have turned this into almost an hour and a half of activities/lessons that include a bit of "current events". 

The software that the school uses has a breaking news feature. The language is simplified so they can follow along, and there are simple questions that go with each story so I can check for understanding.

The news stories are broken into news, sports, and entertainment. Last Thursday, under entertainment, there was a story about a new movie on Disney + called Sneakerella

We did the story. We did the questions. I led them to figuring out the movie was premiering the next day. And then I clicked on the link to the trailer. 

It's a live-action gender-flipped contemporary version of Cinderella. 

Keyla gave us access to Disney +. The next day was going to be a Friday. And I had an idea.

I asked the students: who wanted to see Sneakerella? Jonas was in. The rest of the class kind of indicated that they wouldn't mind. Jennifer was dubious. 

Jennifer doesn't really like new movies. She wanted to be sure that it would be school-appropriate. (A Disney + movie advertised on our news feed? A retelling of Cinderella?) I assured her it would be fine. She reluctantly gave her assent. 

So, on Friday, after our morning snack/break time, I put the movie on. 

It was cute. I'm a sucker for Cinderella stories, so it was in my wheelhouse. It was a musical, so Jonas was happy. 

Jennifer? She enjoyed it once she got into it.

Jennifer doesn't really take to new movies easily. She was reluctant to see Turning Red when it premiered, but she picked it when we did a different movie Friday

She asked a lot of questions and needed various plot points explained. (This is a special ed class, after all.) But once she realized that it was a "safe" movie, she was willing to sit back and enjoy.

So, I guess to a certain extent, I am helping Jennifer learn when we play movies. It opens her up to new things. And that's good.

I'm posting about this on a Wednesday as Wednesday is my "summer schedule" day to recommend TV shows and movies. And I do recommend it, with the caveat that it's good for what it is. If you enjoy Cinderella as a genre, give it a go. Here's the trailer: 

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

It Happened Again


Speculative fiction has a long history of taking the issues of the day and reframing them in a new context with the hope that people will look at them in a new way. Our "unprecedented" times are bringing all sorts of old ways and old thinking back to the forefront. On Tuesdays, I present "what if?" questions. Previously, the intent was as an idea generator. It still is. But now, I ask that you really think about all the repercussions that these ideas will have. If only these were just thought exercises.

What if you murdered a bunch of people and were celebrated for it? What if someone murdered your family members and was celebrated for it?