Tuesday, August 30, 2011

PATs and Charts

PATs: We're trying something new in our routine. I've dubbed it Positive Attitude Training, or PATs for short. I'm asking the children to tell us three positive attributes about themselves at the breakfast table. Later, at the dinner table, I ask them to report three good things they did or accomplished plus one positive act they recognized that someone else at the table did that day. So far it is working out great. Not only does it give us a topic of conversation, it really seems to have made a difference in their daily attitude.

Charts: C.S. came home with a new behavior chart — but it's not just for him, it is for the ENTIRE 4th grade. Wow. And I like it, very much. (I'm so impressed with this teacher.) No smiley faces and emoticons this year. In his class planner, his teacher signs off on the day's assignments. The teacher's signature will now be in a color code to signify how my child behaved in class. Yesterday, all the students began with a yellow signature and will move up or down the color list based on his/her behavior.

Here's a list of what each color signifies:
Purple Signature: Your child had an outstanding day!
Green Signature: Your child had a good day.
Yellow Signature: Your child had an average day.
Red Signature: Your child had 2 warnings regarding his/her behavior
Orange Signature: Your child had a "time-out" in another classroom today or had to walk perimeters around the field at recess.
Blue Signature: Your child had a phone call home today due to inappropriate behavior.
Brown Signature: Your child had an office referral for his/her behavior today.

I'm not certain if they intend to have an additional behavior chart for C.S., but I think it will help him a great deal to be in a school culture where everyone has one, not just him.

I'm loving our Move and the many changes that have come with it!

Silver Lining: I have a feeling that C.S.'s teacher has committed herself to being a change factor in this world. I'm glad to have found ourselves in her circle of influence.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

First Day of School

Throughout this huge transition that is moving to a new house in a new state and with a month long gap between our closings, it is no surprise that my son has had frequent meltdowns. Such a disruptive move would be tough on anyone!

To say that much has happened since my last post is a HUGE understatement. My family has rarely spent so much time with C.S. nor at a time when he was so completely off kilter ... it has been a struggle and it has been an illuminating experience for all of us.

Of course, my concern from the beginning has been the move to a new school, especially for my son:
How might I secure the right fit, the right teacher for him?
How would I be able to download all the various strategies we had developed over the past year?
Would the new school pick up our IEP?
Would we need to have a new PPT?
Would I have to fight my way through a bureaucratic, budget watch dog like I had to before?
Would we be at risk of losing services?
Would he make friends?

ALL these fears are more were almost completely (I'll always be on alert, let's face it) laid to rest. The new school has been SO VERY RESPONSIVE! After delivering his IEP and explaining my concerns, I met with the school teacher and his "Exceptional Children Case Manager" to present his testing and various other paperwork I've collected over the past eight years. The school Speech Pathologist and EC Teacher joined us. And although they did, in short, explain that since his testing was over a year old, they would have to re-test him. And that after testing, they would conduct a Deck-1 which I understand is this district's version of a PPT. Even with news that would have filled me with trepidation before, the information was delivered with such warm and genuine reassurances that they would take care of my son, that he would receive services...I am not concerned. I feel so incredibly good.

What sealed it I guess was when I pointed out his BASC scores and the increases we had seen when he was dropped from services after Kindergarten. My intention was to explain I would simply not allow him to lose services again...but I didn't even have to go there. The Case Manager reviewed the scores and then puzzled, asked me, "And why was he dropped from receiving services?" EXACTLY... I trust this school system has no intention of playing his academic strengths against him.

I just received an email from the school speech pathologist, just a few hours after his day began. She just wanted me to know that his first day was going well. She checked in on the classroom, he was "sitting at his desk attending to the teacher." She followed that with, "His class walked by my room a few minutes ago and they all stopped to say Hi [C.S.] had a big smile on his face! I asked how his day was going and he said "just okay" (LOL) but Mrs. Moore gave me a thumbs up. I am sure this is a big change for him and will take him a little time to adjust but I have no doubt that he will have a great year!"

I couldn't be more pleased!

What I find so interesting is that I was warned by well-meaning folks attending to my naivité as a new-comer, not to send my son to this school. Evidently, it has a large Hispanic population. It was a bias we had noticed but not been able to put our finger on from the very beginning.

Maybe we UnOther Ones can do our part to help spread a little tolerance and understanding!

Silver Lining: I may not need to go in search of one again.


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