This year I have moved schools and made a fairly substantial switch in career paths from being a full-time music teacher in a K-5 school to a teacher of 9 intermediate students with Developmental Disabilities. It has been quite a big change but one that has brought a complete renewal of energy and excitement to teaching. I have always been a teacher who loves learning. I am constantly taking courses, AQs and conferences to continue to gain skills to help my students. But all the learning in the world didn’t match the energy burst of jumping into something brand new.
The awesome thing about running a program like mine is that all the students have alternative IEPs so you make programming decisions about the child’s needs and are not bound the Ontario Curriculum. The truly intimidating part of my program is that all the students have alternative IEPs so you make programming decisions about the child’s needs and are not bound the Ontario Curriculum. I have spent my entire career supporting children to meet some part of the Ontario Curriculum through accommodations, modifications and emotional support. Now that the Ontario Curriculum is not guiding some of my decisions about goals, it has been a pretty steep learning curve to develop a program that meets my student’s and family’s goals for life skills. However, it has been really awesome to work with families to decide what their child really needs. There have been so many days in my teaching career where I wished I could just focus on the child and their needs and now that is my full-time job.
I also didn’t realize how much I missed having the same students all day and having a close relationship with their families until this month. I loved teaching music but the relationships you build with families are a little bit different as you work with so many students. I love working with my families and supporting them to help their child. I already feel closer with my truly awesome families this year than I have in the past 8 years teaching music!!
Although most days, I am not sure where anything is in the building is or what teams are playing or practicing. I also couldn’t figure out where the pizza was that my students ordered or remember most people’s name on staff. Even with all of these challenges, I spend a lot of my time admiring the cool things I see and hear going on in the building. I see the cool popcorn enterprise that was started by one of the other classes for students with ASD called “McPopping”, I hear the band practicing Christmas songs in September and I see the excitement on kids faces as they head off to all the clubs and sport teams being run by teachers. All of the great work being done by my new colleagues is energizing!
A new year, a sense of renewal and a great new adventure. Can’t wait to see what October brings.