Monday, July 31, 2017

Unboxing of Elementary Box

I'm really excited to share my first unboxing video with you! I reviewed my Elementary Box, which is a subscription box for elementary school teachers. Let me know what you think!
- Miss Butterfly

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

FREEBIES... I Knew That Would Get Your Attention!

Hi everyone! During my massive amount of free time this summer (ROFL ROFL ROFL) I've been working on something I call Today's Special. In my classroom this past year we had Morning Meeting. As part of it, we did Today's Special. I would find out about a little-known holiday such as "Tell The Truth Day" or "Don't Step On A Bee Day." (These are real holidays that someone somewhere somehow declared.) I would write up a paragraph about it, and include a picture and a question of the day. It was just a way to add a little something extra to our Morning Meeting. (I found it challenging to come up with good Morning Meeting activities for my 9 and 10 year old students whose primary disabilities were emotional and behavioral... they benefited from the routine of a Morning Meeting time, but I couldn't do the usual circle time activities such as doing nursery rhymes or counting sticks, since they were well beyond that. In the future I will probably include checking the weather using the website, and things like that.)

Anyways, during last school year I did this day by day, but I am hoping to continue it this coming year. I have written up a whole month of Today's Specials for September, and I am giving it away for free on TPT. I will eventually write up booklets for October, November, and so on, and sell them for $1.00 or something to make a little extra school supply money... but for now I just wanted to give the world something for free!

I also have several other freebies in my store that I made during the school year  I have a set of Zones Of Regulation Problem Solving and Think Sheets, which I just found out has already been downloaded by 1, 425 people. That is impressive! It includes a guided problem solving sheet that you can work through with students to help them identify choices for solving a problem, and what the positive or negative consequences of each choice might be. It allows them to choose one to try, and later analyze whether that choice worked for them, and if not, what they will try next. It also includes two different versions of a "Think Sheet," which guides students to identify what event happened, what zone they were in, how they handled it, what the result was and whether that result was something they wanted and needed, and what they may need to do to get into a more comfortable zone. It also guides them to find ways to make a situation better... they may need to clean something up, fix something, apologize to someone, etc.

Then there is the Old Orange game, which is a spin-off of the classic Old Maid game. It is a rhyming game using simple 3 and 4 letter words. Like the classic game, the cards are divided evenly among players, and players first go through their decks of cards to find matches.. in this game, matches would be rhyming words. They then take turns drawing a random card from the hand of the player next to them, without seeing which one they are taking. In the end, when all of the cards have been matched up, one player will be left with the Old Orange... because nothing rhymes with orange, of course!

I do have one other thing that I am selling for $1.00. It is a book study unit for "Sideways Stories From Wayside School." When we were kids, my brother and I loved the Wayside School stories. So, when I was looking for a way to get a group of 3rd grade reluctant readers to practice reading comprehension skills, I thought of Sideways Stories. I created the book study unit, which is pretty simple. It consists of looking up some new vocabulary words for each chapter, and then completing a story map for the chapter. Each group of chapters also includes a special project or activity for students to demonstrate their understanding of the story and characters.

I will let you know when I update things in my store! I try to keep everything either free or for a fairly low price, because I know how much I, as a teacher, appreciate not having to spend a lot of money on things to enrich my students' education. So, go download stuff, and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

First Day of Rec Camp

So, Rec Camp started yesterday. I have not been feeling very enthused about Rec Camp this year. It is a huge commitment with a lot of work involved, and what I really wanted this summer was to relax and recover from the awful school year. I eventually compromised and said I'd help organize Rec Camp but take 3 weeks off in the middle.
On the first day, though, once the kids started appearing, I realized how much I love Rec Camp! It is a day camp like no other. Ruddy was there for the first time, and he seemed to be having a lot of fun. We had about half kids that have been there in the past, and half new kids.
At Rec Camp every camper has a 1:1 counselor. Being one of the organizers, I don't have a 1:1 kid, and I spend most of my time just floating around and making sure everything is going smoothly. At one point, though, one of the new kids, a 5-year-old named Liam, went "number 2" and asked his 1:1 counselor to help wipe his butt. The teenage counselor was squeamish about that, so I went in to do the, um, duty.
When I went into the bathroom, Liam was still sitting on the toilet, so I waited outside the stall while we had this conversation.
Liam: "Can you go get a book and read it aloud to me?"
Me: "I can't leave you alone in here. Does your mom read to you when you're going poop?"
Liam: "I don't know. I've never pooped for this long before. I must have eaten a lot. When we were driving on vacation, I had to pee and poop so many times, my mom said next time I'll have to wear a diaper! Isn't that funny? Sometimes I get diarrhea! One time I had diarrhea coming out of my mouth and my other place!"
Me: "When it comes out of your mouth, that is called throwing up."
Liam: "Oh, I was throwing up and had diarrhea at the same time!"
(Sound of something dropping in water)
Liam: "Did you hear that? Did you hear some plopping sounds?"
Me: "Yes I did!"
Liam: "That was just my poop coming out!"
Eventually the enthusiastic little chatterbox finished up, I helped him wipe his little butt, and we went on about our business. The teenage counselor who was working with Liam thanked me profusely for doing the dirty work.
Me: "When you've wiped as many butts as I have, it is no big deal anymore!"
Teenage counselor: "I don't think I'm going to get to that point. I'm happy just wiping my own butt."
Gotta love Rec Camp!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


As the year is coming to a close, half of me is so happy to be getting ready to put this place behind me. The other half is sad to go. I have made good friends here. Miss Meanie is evil and I hope I never have to see her again, but many of my colleagues were awesome.

The kids were awesome too. Even when they were wreaking havoc.

Today I had to break the news to Persius that I won't be back next year. Persius is still upset that I haven't been able to run the academic groups since January (because I suddenly became the full time behavior teacher) and he asks me about it every time he sees me. "Miss Butterfly, I just have one question," he'll say. "When are you coming back to teach us?" Usually I've just replied, "I don't know, buddy," or "It's not up to me," because I was still holding out hope that they'd let me go back to my academic teaching duties and hire an actual behavior teacher. When I told Persius before that it wasn't up to me, he marched to the principal's office and demanded to know if he had made that decision. (He hadn't. It was Miss Meanie.)

So today I went into the academic room to get a stapler, and Persius was in there doing his reading group. When he saw me he asked me, "Will you come back and be our teacher next year?"

I'd been dreading telling him this. I sat down next to him and said, "I'm going to be teaching at a different school next year."

He jumped into my arms like a little kid and hugged me, rocking back and forth, saying, "But I don't want you to go! Why do you have to go?"

I didn't know how to explain it to him except to say, "I just have to." I tried to tell him, "But you can write me a letter if you want, and if you give it to any of the other teachers here, they can mail it to me."

"And can you come over to my house? Everyone I like is going to come over in the summer!"

I kept on telling Persius that I wouldn't be too far away, and that all the other people he liked would still be there next school year, and eventually convinced him that everything would be okay.

Tomorrow I have to tell the little kids, which should go over a little easier... they'll be sad but their attention spans are significantly shorter and they'll be more excited about summer break. I'm not even going to tell Ruddy until over the summer... he's going to be at Rec Camp with me, so that will give me some extra time to break the news to him slowly.

Which brings us to the good news... I got a new teaching job! I will be an Adaptive Classroom teacher! The elementary school I'll teach at is only a few minutes from my house. I'm so excited about it... it is a fresh new start.

I just wish I could bring Persius and Ruddy with me!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Ruddy's Turn

Now that Montana and Anise are at the Therapeutic School, Ruddy is the only student who is with me full time, And when I say full time, I mean all the time. Mrs. Meanie pulled all of the assistants out of my room, which means I have to be the one to take Ruddy to recess, lunch, specials, the gen ed room, and anywhere else he may go. Ruddy has become very attached to me and hates for me to step outside of the room. When I walk across the room to get something out of the fridge, he shouts, "Miss Butterfly, where are you going?" For a few days I got him to join the reading and math groups going on in the next room, so I could get some work done testing other kids. Ruddy got bored and came back into our room, and when he saw that I wasn't there he had a conniption fit. When I got back into the room he yelled at me, "Why did you leave me? You abandoned me!"

He is very lovable, but it is also somewhat like bringing your toddler to work with you... you don't get much other work done.

Today though, Ruddy had a meltdown that rivaled the ones Anise and Montana used to have. In fact, I have my suspicions that he was actually copying some of the things Anise used to do. He was swearing a blue streak, and even called me a bitch. He even threatened to hit me with a lunch box because I wouldn't let him leave the room! "Don't make me do this! I don't want to hurt you, but I will! Just think of how much pain you'll be in!" he shouted in my face, wielding the lunch box menacingly.

People at my work say I am the best at keeping completely calm in these situations. I barely blinked, and just waited him out. Eventually he threw the lunch box in another direction, but then he climbed up on a table and found where the scissors were hidden and threatened to cut his own ear off.

Over the summer I am going to be helping to run the city's Special Recreation program. Ruddy is signed up to be there, Whenever I tell people this, they roll their eyes and say, "Just what you need, right?" But I think it will be a lot better. Special Rec is different. Its all about having fun, and we don't force the kids to do things they don't want to do. I think it will be a good thing for him. But it will probably be just as exhausting!

I am really ready for this school year to be over. Is that a negative thing to say? I'm just really looking forward to a fresh start.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Mid-May Check In

When I started this blog a few months ago, I had four students, two who were with me full time and two who were with me part time. A lot has happened since then. I tried to make this group of kids into a class, but it was harder than it seemed. I thought I'd update you on them.

Montana was the first to get sent to the Therapeutic School a few towns over. From what I've heard, he is doing great there, and his behavior has improved a lot, at least in that setting. It doesn't mean that he is turning over a new leaf... Recently I had two boys added to my caseload who were coming out of the Therapeutic School. They were put straight into general ed classes, and went right back to their old behaviors. I think it is the school, and the therapeutic environment it is able to provide, that makes the biggest difference. I miss Montana a lot. The other night I had a horrible dream that he died in a plane crash. It was a stupid dream, but it haunted me for days. But I was at the Therapeutic School yesterday and heard that Montana is alive and doing well.

Anise, the original student for whom the self-contained class was developed, stuck around for a few months. But she developed habits of trashing the classroom, hitting staff, and kicking out the screen and jumping out the window so she could run away. She was the second one to be sent to the Therapeutic School. I have no part in the decision of whether to send them there... if I did, I probably would have kept Montana... but I was glad to see Anise go there. She needed way more than we could give her. She's on her first week and I've heard she loves it there.

Ruddy is still with me and is the only student in the class right now, which has created a weird dynamic between he and I. Since I only have one student, the special ed director, Miss Meanie, reassigned my assistants, which means it is just Ruddy and I most of the time. The assistants used to do a lot of work with Ruddy and go with him to music and PE and stuff, but now I have to do it. Ruddy has started to get separation anxiety about me and can't stand if I leave the room to work with any of the other kids on my caseload. He needs so much attention, it has started to feel a little like having a toddler!

Ruddy has made it to Level 4, which is the second highest level in our classroom. He did that by getting 10 cumulative days of having 90% on his point sheet. I am trying to transition him back into general education, but I worry that he won't be successful. He's been working really hard to deal with his anger. It has been quite a while since he has trashed the room. The problem is that Ruddy has trouble understanding that he has any sort of control over his behaviors. He doesn't understand cause and effect. If he gets a consequence, or if someone says "no" to something he wants, he thinks it is because the person doesn't like him. Ruddy asks for a million things per day. He wants to go for a walk, he wants a stick of gum, he wants to play with the iPad during work time, he wants to play music during reading group, he wants to drag all of the desks and chairs together and make a fort. I am pretty easy going, and many times my answer will be Yes, if it is doable. Yes, you can have a stick of gum if I can see that it helps you sit and concentrate. Yes, we can make a fort during break time if we put it back afterwards. But in a general ed class, or even a special ed class with more than one student,  all of those things wouldn't always be possible. He doesn't understand why he has to do the stupid state testing on the iPad. I try to explain to him that every kid in the state has to do it, and maybe even every kid in the country. He points to a sign he made that says "I DON'T LIKE IT WHEN PEOPLE BOSS ME AROUND!" In his mind, rules exist only to interfere with his fun, and he shouldn't have to follow them.

Persius... Persius could break my heart! Persius was one of the first kids I knew, back when I was running the academic groups. He has autism and his thinking is very black-and-white. He spends a lot of time flopping around in his chair wailing that NOTHING IS FAIR! Before I ended up as the behavior teacher, I used to let Persius come to my room and take music breaks when he was having a hard time in class. He claimed that music calmed him down, and it did seem to work. He liked this weird electronic music that you can only find on YouTube. When I'd turn it on, he'd start to dance, his pale freckled face breaking into a grin.

After my academic groups were taken from me, Persius asked me every day when I was coming back. At first I had been told that the set up was only temporary, so I would tell Persius that I would be back soon. But then "temporary" became "permanent." Every single time I see Persius he grabs my arms and begs me to come back to run his groups. I started telling him, it wasn't my decision, it was my boss's decision. So Persius marched to the principal's office and demanded to know why the principal had made me stop teaching the academic groups. The principal told him he had nothing to do with it. (That is true... it was all Miss Meanie's doing!)

Persius's regular ed teacher tells me that Persius also complains every day to her about me being gone. "You made a real difference to Persius. He really misses you," she said.

Today Persius saw me outside and came to give me a hug, saying, "If you don't at least come back to run our groups after summer vacation, my life will be ruined!":

I don't have the heart to tell him that I am not coming back at all next school year.

I've been starting job interviews already! It would be awesome if I could get a job lined up before summer vacation even starts! Wish me luck.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Don't Know What To Say...

Last week I got called down to the principal's office.

For the record, let me tell you that in all of my jobs, I've always been a stellar worker! I've always had great reviews and I've never gotten in trouble for anything. So I wasn't that worried when I got called to the principal's office... even though he told me that he'd invited my union representative.

When I got there, I made friendly small-talk with the principal while we waited for the union rep.
As soon as the union rep got there, the principal wasted no time in telling me, "We've decided not to renew your contract for next year."

I was surprised, because my review isn't even until the middle or end of May, and that is when they usually tell you about their decisions whether to renew or not renew your contract. This was somehow different. They had all gotten together in a special meeting to talk about not renewing my contract.

I know this makes me sound like a horrible teacher. I must have done something wrong, right? My union rep reassured me that this isn't true... especially after I asked if there were any specific reasons, and the principal sort of shrugged and said, "Oh, nothing specific."

You may remember when I began this blog, I explained that I was hired as a learning support teacher. I was supposed to teach academic skills to small groups of K-3 kids with ADHD and learning disabilities. I had set up a great classroom with lots of different multisensory opportunities for learning. I was also supposed to provide behavior support, but usually in a resource setting this is pretty mild and involves things like check ins, pep talks, and helping teachers create behavior support plans for individual kids. But the reality was, the kids who needed behavior support needed a lot more than Resource. They were tearing up classrooms and frightening the gen ed teachers, left and right! Whenever a kid started flipping out, I was called to the scene. If I was in the middle of teaching an academic group, my academic kids had to be sent back to their classes, and all groups would be cancelled until the flipping out kid had settled down. They were losing their minutes but nobody seemed to care. The only advise I was given was to stop making individualized, engaging lessons, and just put them all in workbooks. This way, any random person could step in and take over... it would just be a matter of flipping to the right page and reading the script. The idea made me gag.

Then in the middle of the year, we got a new kid who required a self-contained classroom. So the special ed director... I will call her Mrs. Meanie... declared that I would now be the self-contained behavior classroom teacher. All of my academic groups would be taken over by substitute teachers, often a different teacher each day. Anise, Ruddy and Montana were dumped into my room. From this, I had to somehow create some semblance of a classroom. In the mean time, my academic kids... many of whom also have some degree of social and emotional disabilities and really struggle with changes... were being taught by a different random sub every day. I hated to go into the other classroom where they'd been sent, because they would cry and beg me to come back. And I had to tell them, "I can't."

So that is what I dealt with. I still had to write full lesson plans for each of the academic kids every day, and case manage them, while also running the behavior classroom. The principal came in and observed a few times and complained that I wasn't posting "learning targets" on the board. When I explained that I wasn't really doing any teaching anymore... the kids just worked on work sent by individual gen ed teachers... he said, "Well, there should be academic lessons going on in every classroom." Except I had been told to just give them their folders of gen ed work. So...

Anyways, I've been canned. But I still have to stay until the end of the school year and act all cheerful around the principal and Mrs. Meanie.

Plus, today they had Skipper (the kindergartner with autism) in my class all day, because he was having behavior issues in his gen ed class and the teacher was fed up. What could possibly go wrong with putting an autistic kindergartner into a 3rd-5th behavior classroom?

It actually wasn't that bad. except that Skipper, being a little guy, needs a lot more of my individual attention than the others do. He is unable to sit and work independently. This means that the others balk because they feel like they're not getting attention (I only have an assistant for part of the day) and I get ZERO work done. Even less than usual. Believe me when I tell you, I have not had a lunch break or planning time since January.

But I'm fired because I'm doing an awful job. At this.

I'm terrified I won't get another job for next school year. This could be the end for Miss Butterfly. Stay tuned...