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