I am almost out of the hectic chaos that is annual review meetings, where you go over this year for your students and the plan for next year in the form of IEPs (Individualized Education Plans) -- roughly 13 page legal documents that spell out strengths, needs, modifications, accommodations, goals and for many of my students, plans for post-high school. They are intense. I actually felt lucky to have the days we had off for the giant snowstorm because it gave me time to work on them and get them finalized up, although I spent a fair amount of one day making parent calls to go over plans prior to my meetings. I was happy to have the parent calls I've had so far go well, to hear "yes, that sounds like my child" from parents -- I pride myself in really knowing my students and how to best support them yet push them, too.
This is, although in March, the culminating event of the year in special education. It signals a shift from this year to next year. I also sit in on the incoming 7th grade meetings for the program where I teach Reading and English.
These meetings have me feeling more than a little sad though.
I cannot BELIEVE that here we are, in March, talking about transitioning to next year and I AM STILL THERE. I am not on maternity leave. I do not have any exciting news to share.
When going into the 7th grade meetings, I had to decide -- do I tell parents about the adoption process now? If I was pregnant, it would be apparent that I might not be there next year. But I'm not, and in actuality I've been expecting for 19 months, but without any kind of notice and lately opportunities that are whiplash fast, so do I need to tell them now? I decided not to.
Because if I have to tell ONE MORE GROUP of parents that I may or may not be there the whole year, that I am in the adoption process, to receive CONGRATULATIONS that are well intended but then ward that off with, "well, it's been a while and the process is long and unpredictable, so there's no real baby yet...it's a fake baby right now" which just makes parents look at me like I'm insane...I will literally lose it. I have had to tell people in some shape or form for THREE SCHOOL YEARS that I might go out, but then the year goes by and time passes on (faster and faster I might add) and absolutely NOTHING changes. For me, at least.
I get new groups of students. I get new hopeful faces when my phone rings during class (and shared frustration when it's just an appointment reminder or worse, a telemarketer). I get new sets of parents who are either openly excited for me or worried for what that might mean for their child in terms of consistency, or a mix of both.
I get it. But at the same time, here I am, IN THE SAME PLACE, and nothing has changed. Not yet. So I don't really feel like telling another group "oh, I might be here next year or I might not." Why cause anxiety when so far, I tell them and things remain the same?
It is very hard to cycle through school year after school year and have very little progress on my end, and have to explain the process over and over and over...only to have it not actually matter in the end. There's still time for this school year...I am hopeful that something will pan out before June. Maybe. It's hard not to be a little jaded at the prospect of things working out. And at this point, I kind of hope for a summer placement (although I would take one RIGHT NOW if it was available) because then I can take the whole school year off and not have to have that conversation ripe with hypothetical instability. How luxurious it would be to just have an uninterrupted space of time where I can pretend I'm like anybody else who is expecting a baby, to have it neat and encapsulated.
Except my gestation is hypothetical, and recalcitrant, and unpredictable, and causes mass confusion.
And when the calendar goes to the next month, when the meetings are upon us, when there's nearly only one quarter left of the school year, it just reminds me of how quickly time goes by and how cruelly it leaves us in the dust, standing still and empty-handed, watching other babies get born and my friends' children grow up until it seems we are in some kind of awful time loop.
I still hope, though. Time can't stand still forever. Something will change at some point. I have to believe that or else lose my sanity.