As educators we all have "stuff" that we have to deal with that can bog us down and dim our light, so to speak. As a special education teacher, paperwork can cause me a lot of frustration. I have no problem doing what is best for my students, but sometimes the documentation can be cumbersome. I am always pushing away any negativity and noise that I can control. Every one of my students have a piece of my heart, but sometimes the choices they make and difficulties they are experiencing break my heart. As much as I love being a teacher, things outside my control can make me feel discouraged. This is why I am so thankful for the beacons of hope and encouragement that cross my path and lift me up!
Ian Osborne is one of those beacons for me. Ian is one of my students in my mixed-model READ 180/System 44 classes. When I met Ian at the beginning of his 6th grade year, he was extremely anxious about middle school. Ian has a significant speech difficulty, Childhood-Onset Fluency Disorder, commonly known as stuttering. Ian's beginning of year Reading Inventory score was a 215 Lexile. Ian was so anxious that he literally was making himself sick. He missed 7 days of school the first semester because of not feeling well. The good thing was that when Ian was at school he was working hard to be successful academically.
Ian was in Special Education, resource/small group classes for his core subjects, and he was receiving speech services to help him with strategies to become a more confident speaker. With hard work in System 44 and READ 180, Ian was starting to make big improvements in reading and his other teachers were noting that he was becoming more confident and doing better in their classes too. During Ian's second semester of 6th grade, he only missed 1 day! His writing teacher shared with me one of his writing assignments where they wrote about goals he wanted to achieve. Ian wrote that he wanted to be in regular education classes. That goal started to be noticed in Ian's engagement. By the end of Ian's 6th grade year, he was volunteering to answer questions in whole and small group, he seemed so much happier, and his Lexile had grown to a 439.
There was a drastic difference between Ian at the beginning of his 6th grade year and the beginning of his 7th grade year. Ian started 7th grade ready to get back to work! Although, Ian's stutter didn't go away, he was using the strategies he learned and was dismissed from speech services. Ian's Social Studies teacher told me Ian was one of the best readers in his class and in my class Ian was focused and encouraging to his classmates. In regular 7th grade reading classes they were all reading The Outsiders. Ian found this out and asked me if he could do the audiobook in our class. I thought it was a great idea and he went to work on it. When the other 7th graders in class saw Ian reading, The Outsiders, they wanted to read it too. Because of Ian's ambition and leadership, all of my 7th graders completed the audiobook and passed the Reading Counts! quizzes for it.
Based on Ian's progress, attitude, and perseverance I nominated him for the 180 Awards in the Secondary System 44 category. HE WON!!! Not only did he win the 180 Award, but on his end of year Reading Inventory, Ian scored a 711 Lexile. Ian is one of those students that lifts me up. There are of course days when a lesson didn't go great or the students are acting like it's the third full moon of the month, but when I get to work with students like Ian and so many others, they inspire me to both keep my chin up and believing in and supporting these amazing students It is a privilege to teach them every day. Now, off to renew during the summer.