Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Hit the Ground Running?

I'm feeling really lost today.  And confused.  I want to react quickly and decisively but I don't want to do 'my usual' and react too quickly without completely understanding what's going on and what should be going on.  I just know that what I saw this morning, Ayla's first day back at school, is not ok.

I knew the beginning of the year was going to be full of surprises.  Everything is new this year, in both schools.  At her mainstream school Ayla will have a new teacher, a new principal and a new LSA (so I thought) and at the specialist school, a whole new teacher and LSA team.  I found all of this out in the last week of school which, in Canberra, is only days before Christmas.  It makes it really hard to get in there and plan for the new year.

I rang her mainstream school 10 days ago to get a meeting to see if we could get things nutted out ....no answer, no return phone call.  I should have known then that things could get interesting.  I just wanted to keep an open mind and try to feel excited about everything being new and different this year and see it as an opportunity to make things better this time around.  Unfortunately, within minutes of entering her school I could see things weren't right.  Ayla's LSA from last year, was teary and trying not to get upset whilst trying to avoid discussions of what was going on this year.  The deputy principal who is normally very friendly and always engages in conversation was remaining well in the background and also avoiding discussions.  Something just wasn't right.  I met her teacher who seems to be lovely.  She is relatively new out of university having taught at Ayla's school for 2nd semester last year, but the kids, teachers and parents are very responsive to her and she was very engaging when introduced to me.

It was going into Ayla's classroom that caused me to fall apart inside.  An LSA wheeled Ayla into her classroom and when I asked her if she was Ayla's new LSA she said, "Kind of, not really".  WTF is that supposed to mean???  My blank, open-mouthed look must have said volumes as she quickly responded that this year there are not enough LSA's to go around and that the 4 LSA's at the school are rostered to care for Ayla in a rotation.  My mind immediately started creating little bullet points for later:

  • No student/LSA relationship.
  • No continuity for Ayla, the LSA or the teacher
  • Very unlikely to be communication between the LSA's, which means
  • Very unlikely to be good communication between the LSA's and myself.
The teacher began her class with a get to know you session where the kids were given a list of questions to answer regarding their holidays, their families, their friends etc.  Ayla was given a box a blocks to play with.  And the LSA asked me what she should do with Ayla right now?  My immediate response was, "This really isn't going to work for any of us, is it?"

 They have made no plans.  NO PLANS.  Nothing is organised.  Apparently, the teaching staff didn't even know which grades they were teaching until late last week.

A mentor of mine often says, "If this was good, what would it look like?".  I keep reminding myself of that.  I keep asking myself the question.  And I know that the answer is this:

  • it's a clean slate
  • it's an opportunity for me to step in and make it something special
But I'm scared and I don't know how to make it special.  I don't know how to help.  I don't know who I need to talk to.  I feel unsure of the Principal and her role in all of the unhappiness that I saw today.  And I have so much on my plate, I don't know how in hell I'm supposed to fit creating Ayla's mainstream educational plan in to the year as well. And I feel like I need to wait until the tears stop before I start trying to tackle the situation ...but then I don't want to leave it too long either.

For now I'm taking deep breaths and wiping away my tears because they really are not going to help me here.


Unknown said...

1. Email the principal directly and request a face to face meeting
2. Arrange for you to be there without the girls so you can focus
3. Between now and the appointment, make a plan.

You are a strong woman Melissa and I have never known you to take shit from anyone, so don't start today!

Melissa Luxmoore said...

Thanks Jacqui :) I am feeling a little battered and bewildered. Rest assured that I'm on to it though. xx

Susan, Mum to Molly said...

Too many changes all at once, and not for the better... :-(

Sorry to hear you're having such a rough start to the school year!

(I was a bit worried as I read though that they were trying to railroad you our of the mainstream school, so I'm glad its not that.)

FWIW, M has four+ different 'aides' (SLSO's in NSW) and for her/us it actually works - but the communication between them, the teaching staff & us is good.

Hope they can get some good things in place asap & give you some peace of mind...

Take care,