This past week has been the first week back for teachers in my district and kiddos start on Monday. I’m in a situation this year that is new for me. That’s a bit surprising as this is year twenty so how much can possibly be new at this point? Anyway, I’ve always been in schools that designated some classes as special education classes, meaning those classrooms had the students with IEPs (individualized education plans). This is done to help the special education teachers, so that they can work closely with fewer teachers and fewer classrooms. This year I’m one of those teachers but several of my students need more specialized help than I am accustomed to and will spend a large part of their day in another classroom with a special education teacher and an instructional assistant. They’ll be there for language arts and math and with us for specials (PE, music, art, etc.), lunch, recess, morning meeting, science, and social studies.
I’m mostly okay with this. I know some of these students already (I taught some in kindergarten and worked with another last year during my planning time) and I know they need more than they are likely to receive in a general education classroom. At the same time, I love these kiddos and I’m sad that I’ll see them so little.
As I was getting things ready in my classroom this week I was thinking about where kids could keep their book boxes. I like having them in spaces all around the room but I was struggling to find good spots for all of them. Then I realized a few kids won’t be with me for language arts so I wondered if I should have book boxes for them. I had been planning on it but, having never been in a situation in which kids are in my class so little, I wasn’t certain. I checked in with the head of our special education department and she said that yes, I should have book boxes for them as there will always be odd moments in the day when we’ll turn to them. That fit my thinking.
The part that surprised me was that as I left her office she thanked me for including these kiddos. My kiddos. Our kiddos.
Throughout my twenty years in the classroom I’ve certainly heard teachers talk about ‘your kids’ or ‘her kids’ rather than ‘my kids’ or ‘our kids’. It’s always grated on me. I’m a firm believer in the idea that it takes a village (and being a parent has only reinforced that). Our kids, all of them at our school, are ours. We all need to care for them, support them, teach them, listen to them. It doesn’t matter whose classroom they are in during the day or what labels they have, we all belong to each other.