School Year Alpha, Omicron, and Omega

Posted
5/26/2016
Mary McLaughlin
Special Education Teacher
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Grand Canyon University
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Fordham University
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The Alpha (beginning): school year...the beginning of a new year's adventures in teaching and learning...it's fresh. We're rested. We're renewed. We're rejuvenated. We're excited. We're organized. We're anxious. We're professionally developed. We're unpacked. We're set up. We're done reviewing I.E.P.'s, their accommodations and modifications. We've asked a million and nine questions. We've found our place on our team. We've sent I Can't Wait To Meet You postcards. We've carefully printed and affixed name tags to desks. We've sorted, organized, stacked, copied, laminated, studied, planned. We're READY!

The Omicron (middle)...my Arkansas career started as a Special Education Teacher in a charter school in the Arkansas Delta region in July 2015. By October, it was clear the school wasn't the right fit for me, and in November, I was able to find a Special Education job in a wonderful, traditional school district just 40 minutes from home. I have had 96 hours of professional development since July. I've found a new work wife twice, I've taken 12 graduate hours at the nearby university to obtain a Master's degree in Special Education, I have completed all necessary requirements to obtain an Arkansas teaching certificate, I've moved homes twice, had two jobs, set up and packed up two classrooms, given 4 kinds of state mandated assessments, adjusted to new school expectations twice, taught with rigor, fun, and energy every day (...okay, most days…), made new friends twice, saw my daughter get married, supported a friend with cancer, drove multiple hours in many directions to visit family on my school vacations, had the flu twice, pneumonia twice, maintained connections, ran a senior care business remotely, cried to relieve stress more than twice, took stock of all the things I've learned, and had one flat tire. That's what the school year is about...it's about learning and living life while building a bond with your students.

The Omega (the end)....we're done testing. We're done notating. We've held our Special Education Annual Review meetings, we've written I.E.P. goals. We're packed. We're cleaned up. We've handed out well-deserved awards to students. We're cleared out. We've thought ahead. We've reflected. We're satisfied that we've done our best every day, even that day when we had to call D.H.S. for that student who clearly needed us to do so. We're grateful we've made connections with parents. We're pleased our foray into technology went so well. We're thankful for excellent school leadership. We're taking notes for next year. We're saying friendly good-byes to retirees and, "See Ya In August"-s to our colleagues. We're excited for our kids who've learned to read. We're grateful for a new school home for years to come. We're pleased to be told our efforts matter.

We're exhausted. But we're happy...and we can't wait to do it all again next August.

Mary McLaughlin

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