Captain Jean-Luc Picard: [seeing Riker indulging in a variety of Klingon dishes] I'm familiar with the practice of a feast before a transfer; I've done it dozens of times. However, I made more palatable choices.
—Star Trek: The Next Generation, "A Matter of Honor" (2/4/89)
Late last week, the Lead ITAs (most of them, anyway) were pulled from our regular schools to assist at a high school that needed several meetings done quickly.
Something like this wouldn't ordinarily be a big deal; we're only too happy to help. But this year we have much bigger caseloads than we used to, and we haven't spent a ton of time in our schools, so I for one was a little nervous about going to the high school when I'm not even sure that I've got it all together at the schools that I'm SUPPOSED to be in.
Add to that the fact that, during the upcoming four-day week, I'm expected to spend three of them in court, and you've got one stressed-out person in me, plus a couple of principals who are also probably a little nervous as well. The court stuff is work-related as well, so nobody's going to complain about that one. Not out loud, anyway.
But here's where my anxiety, I think, truly lies:
When you're assigned to a school, you become a part of that school's culture. You get to know the teachers, the students, the way the principal operates. A lot of little pieces come together for you, and you can fall into a kind of comfort zone as you start to follow people's lives and understand why this parent needs an afternoon meeting; why that student is so frequently late to school; who tends to abuse the photocopier, and so forth. And as you get into this groove, you're able to make better decisions for the students whom you serve.
If you work in more than one school (as many IEP Team Associates do), it's a little more difficult but it can be done. But I've found that there's a tendency to lean toward one school as the "home" school and the other school is just that: the "other" school where you have to go and you're not quite so comfortable and you don't feel you have as good a handle on everything that's going on. And when you get transferred frequently, as I do for numerous reasons, and you have to start the process over yet again, you start to lose your willingness to connect with a school because, well, what the hell. We're just so much cattle anyway and I'm just going to get yoinked out of this building and stuck into another one so what's the fricken point of building relationships with an IEP Team and the teachers and the kids and the principal? Honest to god, why even bother?
And it doesn't help that, on the days that you're visiting another school and helping out there, you've popped in on a tightly-knit little community that just needs an extra set of eyes, or some expertise that they may not have (or, in fact, do but they don't realize it), and you're still the outsider in a way. And now, without some sort of "home base" to operate from, it's a very detached, free-floating sensation. I'm not grounded.
The school where I assisted this past week is really big on the "community" aspect of things. It's a Transformational School, which is ultimately going to be a Middle/High school, although all it has right now is a sixth grade and a ninth grade. But you can see that they are indeed building a community there, and one of the key components of that community is that nobody is excluded. In fact, this is why we were there: to re-write the IEPs to ensure that the students affected weren't removed from the community for any more time than was absolutely necessary.
We've had nine work days so far this school year. I've been in my assigned schools for fewer than five of those days. By the end of this week, by the end of the thirteenth work day, I'll be up to six.