katherine zagotsis
Highly Accomplished Teacher. AAC Communication Partner & Advocate. Mum of one. Accidental Leader. Reflectionist, Mentor and life-long learner.

Engaging Now! 7.4

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About 2 weeks ago from Katherine Zagotsis's Twitter via Twitter for Android

Demonstrating 4.5

Week 0: The Ottoman

January 25, 2020 | 0 COMMENTS

Last week, we were given a very generous amount of time to spend in our classrooms to get ready for the year. One of the things that I wanted to do was upholster the ottoman pictured above. This isn’t really about the before and after of that process-actually I didn’t even take a before photo (underneath it’s bright orange with a lot of that peeled back). There’s teachers on Pinterest and Instagram with those kind of posts-this isn’t one of them. What I actually want to focus on is the kinds of conversations I had.

In my setting, it’s not just me in the classroom. It’s an SSO, a 1:1 support SSO, my NIT teacher and likely, a placement student at various points throughout the year. On Wednesday, I sat down with each of my SSO’s and asked them the question “What do you need from me this year?” My intention was to establish that their own professional development was important to me and that I do not work from a top-down “teacher knows all” position. I also asked my pre-service teacher the same question. Their answers were varied and mostly reflected whether they had worked with me before or not. More importantly, it will help me throughout the year if I know where everyone is coming from. I think I managed to come across as being open as well, given that one of my SSO’s asked me “How do you run this?” and gestured with her hand around the classroom. I explained how I have high expectations, starting with encouraging the students to unpack their own bags (if able), the pedagogy I use and what I felt I could improve on. After that, all of us, as well as my NIT teacher sat down with the handover sheets, talking through initial concerns about our new students starting and taking notes:

NIT teacher: “He’s prone to seizures, but has medication at home, is he allowed Midaz if he has one at school?”

Me: “I’m not sure, I’ll go and see if he has a seizure care plan in his file.”

Me: “He doesn’t have one, but I’ll send this one home for his parents to fill out.”

SSO: “Do you think he’ll need 1:1 in the yard?”

Me: “I’m not sure, was thinking the same and have made a note of that.”

SSO: “If she has a Transfer and Positioning Care Plan, do we need to access any training?”

Me: “We didn’t last year, but she does have a great Physio who is willing to demonstrate safe lifts to staff.”

This continued for quite a while until someone asked “Do you need any more help with setting anything else up?” I explained about the ottoman and all four of the people I was speaking with got up immediately and went to the other room. Which genuinely surprised me-I was expecting help from one person. Two of my SSO’s flipped the ottoman upside down while I got the staple gun ready. I’m going to include the conversation we had, mostly because it made me laugh, but also because it made me see the beginnings of a strong and positive team environment:

SSO: “Katherine, is that a curtain-where did you get that from?”

Me: “My house. I hope it fits, I haven’t measured.”

SSO: “Have you upholstered something before?”

Me: “No. But it can’t be that hard. Has anybody else?”

NIT teacher: “I have. Kind of. Pull that fabric really tight and staple in the soft part.”

Me: “Ok. It’s not working that well.”

SSO: “I think you need to put your whole body into it!”

Me: “Ohh, think you might be right!”

SSO: “What are we going to do with these ends?”

NIT teacher: “Just fold them over. Like a present. That’s it.”

Staple gun kept getting jammed and missing

SSO: “Do you need a break?”

Me: “No, I’m okay.”

NIT teacher: “Give me the rest of those staples so they don’t end up somewhere we don’t want them.”

SSO: “You’ve run out of staples chicken. I’ll go and get some from next door.”

Me: “Thank you.”

SSO: “How are we going to do this other end? What did we do with the last one, I can’t remember.”

SSO: “Do you want me to cut these rings off?”

Me: “Yes please.”

NIT teacher: “Oh! You could use those for a posting activity for round things or for weaving or just for an interesting piece of fabric.”

Me: “Haha, you can have it if you like. So glad I didn’t throw this curtain out! So many uses.”

Me: “Thank you.”

Pre-Service Teacher: “You’re welcome-good bonding exercise.”

So while I haven’t spent long on aesthetics in the classroom, I feel like the conversations I had were really meaningful and are going to be a bigger contributing factor to the wellbeing of my classroom.

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