Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Going back to school and school in general

   Today I thought I would do a post on bullying only unfortunately it's a post I take very seriously and need more time to write and today it seems is not that day. I have been laying about and resting as I have a bit of cold coming on and I have been on a binge of non-gluten related products that doesn't seem to agree with me(being the only one in the house eating gluten free sometimes it isn't easy).

First off let me discuss school in general.
Yes I attended a normal public school and was in a normal public school classroom. I was not in a special education classroom.

 In Canada specifically the province I live in the process of inclusion and the elimination of special needs classrooms and separation of child with disabilities is a common goal. 

When I first started school in around 1994ish this was the over all concept disabled children were in the same classroom as everybody else.  Mostly because the majority of children were not to be diagnosed in till they were 8 years old. Missing those critical early years. Early intervention was not a priority  and as much as inclusion was now the norm the attitudes and education had not yet been provided. So there were many, many pitfalls to the system at the time.

I can remember teachers being maybe one of my biggest bullies and tormentors. Essentially only because they lacked the training to deal and teach a child with different needs. They had never been expected to before because students had been separated in the past and success for disabled children at that time period was not an expected outcome.
It was rough needless to say and a constant fight.

I also did not have a IEP except for one year.

A IEP is a independent education program. It is different and tailored to fit the needs of the child. So if I had a grade 2 reading level I would complete work at the appropriate level and also if I had behavioral issues it would be addressed how they would be dealt with. It meant I did not complete the same math work as everyone else though I would like to get a hold of that IEP now and see it (Though I am 21 now so not sure how it could be helpful now).

This was also the worst year of school for me. This teacher I swear never read my file and treated me in a way that made me feel so stupid even to this day. YOU do not forget stuff like that. By the time I was in grade 3 I was reading above grade level and struggled only with grammatical structure in writing and math. This teacher refused to allow me to read above a level of books you would give a kid in grade 1. I HATED IT. She also kept me in a lunch and would yell at me. At the time I did NOT understand that I hadn't done anything wrong and that I should have said something to an adult. But like any kid I did not know I hadn't done anything wrong she was an adult so what she had to say had to be true.

This is just a small snippet to try and give everyone insight on what going through the school system was like BACK when I went through it.
Grades 4 through 5 went well.
Then came junior high.
All supports disappeared.

This seems like a good time to explain what supports I had during elementary so from grade primary(kindergarten)-to grade 5.

I had what is called resource support from about the end of grade 1ish to 5th grade. Resource support meant I was removed from the classroom for a certain amount of time a week to help me stay on par with my peers and work on any needed skills I needed working on. I loved my resource teacher! I had her all the way up in till grade 5 when things took a turn for the worse.

She was not my resource teacher instead a previous teacher I had in grade 1 that I had hated, because she had isolated me from  my peers because I did not complete work in a group setting, and just over all didn't have a great attitude. This was actually the beginning of string of a loss of any support.

On top of resource support I required accommodations I could complete the work of my peers sometimes things just needed to be different to do so, quiet testing areas, work extensions, visual layouts etc.

Most of these weren't big deals. but the majority of teachers put up such a stink about it.

Anyway on to junior high. I received no services from about grades 6-8 it was hell. The majority of my accommodations ignored I did the worst I ever did yet some how passed. This was also the worst time fighting for accommodations teachers were still at the point where they were not educated on working with disabled students. In fact I'm not even sure what the heck was going on with that school?

Not the point.

What I really want to talk about is high school grades 9-12.
These were the best years of my school life. These years were filled with people and teachers who were AMAZING in shaping me and allowing me to develop my own skill sets.

I never had a teacher fight my accommodations ever. I thrived. I owe so much to that resource team for being so patient with me and ALLOWING me to become independent and find what works for me. I actually spent a lot of time down there. they were a family and I could pretty much come and go as I pleased.

I was actually the first in our school to be allowed to use a laptop in classes. My parents bought it for me in about grade 11 and it became a gateway into the world of technology.
I was also one of the first people in the province to type my provincial exam. Technology made expressing my life easier.

I graduated in 2009 with my peers, with a high school certificate equivalent and the same as them. With 4 year honors. A $8000 scholarship. and I was on top of the world. It felt like a big "Look what I did all you people who made my life miserable and treated me like I couldn't succeed". I was thrilled. I had the MOST perfect prom dress. the most perfect graduation. I still am proud of that accomplishment. Why shouldn't I be.
I feel as though I have not conveyed intensely enough what a fight it was to get to that point.

I did do two years of university.
Unfortunately due to several factors I did not succeed/thrive as I should have. Mostly based on a student help center that was supposed to be one of the best in Canada. Their attitude. Was not to ask me what I needed and what worked for me bu to tell me how it was going to be. I stopped going.  I also did not do well with dorm life.
I won't go into much detail because even though that experience cost me a good chunk of cash I did learn a lot of things. Mostly what I did not want to be.

So in 2011 I entered community college and took a teachers assistant course.
This experience wasn't exactly fun either but it wasn't so horrific as to never want to talk about it again. Years of distrust formed by teachers and a crappy experience at my last post secondary made me braced for more "You know nothing attitude".

The program was a year long and if it weren't for the friends I made in the course I think I would have quit. I LOVE being a teachers assistant I THRIVE off of working with children and I am at ease. The course bored me though as the text book work and I probably didn't put in as much effort as I could have I know this. The supports were okay... I passed end of story. They didn't really have a resource center where I could go and hang out and work. Which made for a very hard year.

And then I swore I was done. I graduated in 2012. I WAS D-O-N-E. Well that is what I said but I knew I wasn't.
My passion is leading me back to school hopefully in September.
This time I will be living at home while going back which means I imagine my mother and I will clash as I remind her I am 21 and she needs to remember this.

But while most girls hit up pinterest to look at cute outfits. I'm trying to figure out where in rural-middle-of-nowhere am I going to find a psychiatrist, specialists, and anything else I need to get sorted for September.

I'm tracking down assessments I'm mourning the fact that a pair of cute new shoes isn't at the top of my back to school list. I'm trying to hide the fear I won't be picked on because I am disabled, I AM worried they won't see my passion. I'm worried I'll be faced with shoddy student resource options again.

Going back to school isn't so simple for me.

BUT this is what I want the world to understand.

I can do anything you can do. I just need to take a different path and it may take me longer. I may not look as good and smart on paper, but I AM smart and I am able. Don't treat me otherwise. Do not discount my experiences because they are important and provide insight. Treat me like a person.

So as I sit here going through my resume and preparing it, trying to write a letter about "why" I think could succeed at this I'm trying to imagine I am that girl who has no other worries then cute back to school outfits and making new friends while remembering I have value and that I am strong enough to do this. I think I forget that way to much.

Jess the brave

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