December 19th, 2019

Lyrics: Ego

LJ Idol Week 9: The Glass Cliff

We, as special education teachers, are being set up to fail. We are caught in a world between bureaucratic expectations that are neither grounded in fact or verity, the harsh reality of the day-to-day needs of students, and lack of support, either from parents, colleagues, administration, or the district. The emphasis of this job has shifted from actually providing the service to checking the appropriate boxes on the paperwork--in multiple places--regardless of the time and resources available. We are put in impossible situations with insufficient materials and training to meet the increasingly overwhelming expectations; our mental health and our families suffer and we are clearly doing a disservice to these students we are charged with protecting. We are the fall guy when something, undoubtedly, falls apart.

We are a jack of all trades: we are experts in all academic subjects as well as pedagogy and behavior; we problem-solve like a Jedi master; we multi-task like our lives depend on it because that’s what it feels like. We do all this while literally teaching a classroom full of students that no one else wants to teach because they require too much attention or their academic deficits are too great or too varying using curriculum we have spent hours creating ourselves and materials we’ve purchased with our own money because we certainly weren’t provided these things.

With it being the end of the semester, my classroom was full of middle school students working on a variety of class assignments for a range of subject areas in the mad rush to complete enough work to pass their classes. They come because they know we care; they know we will set down our sandwiches, hold our pee, and put aside the pile of grading to answer their questions, listen to their stories, and encourage them one more time.

Meanwhile, next door, my colleague fights through the mountain of paperwork and political red tape to move a student to a more appropriate placement, but we are being told we have moved too many students recently, that it’s too soon to make another change, that we haven’t exhausted all of our efforts. But at what cost? Our time and weaning energy? The particular student's consistent failing grades and increasing deficits? The other students in the classroom?

At the end of the day, we swear like sailors and insist we cannot do this anymore, but we continue to show up the next day. We do it because we can’t not do it; if we don’t, who will?

Sydney - Surrounded by fire

For a few months now waking up while being surrounded by smoke has been an issue. However, the cause of the persistant smog is of the greatest concern.

At present, Sydney is under threat of being completely surrounded by fire, cutting off major roads and further choking the city with thick smoke. With estimates that there could be a combined fire front up between 400,000 and 500,000 hectares of burnt land. The equivalent of 1/4 of Brittan being on fire, in estimate. With the total area already lost to other fires being greater than some European countries.

The next week has been declared a state emergency, and the festive season is now overshadowed by the fires. Most people are resigned to the out of control nature of these events. Others simply stating that there can't be much left to burn. However, the situation from the fire-fighters perspective is to simply do their best.

Below: a prediction of the worst case scenario by a local newspaper.