The air in the principals office was stifling. We both knew why we were called there. All thee of us shifted nervously in our chairs. There had been talk of a change and as special education teachers we were always at the mercy of the numbers of children identified as having a learning disability. Last year, we were safe, we had 30 students. That was enough to keep two staff members. This year it was worrisome. We had students move over the summer, not many new students and even had students testing out of services (yeah!).
So, when we were called into the principals office in October, it wasn't really a surprise because our numbers were down to only 15 students. I knew there was another building in the district with 45 students and two teachers. I had heard rumors and so I had been thinking seriously about it. I had done some investigating. This other school was working towards an inclusion model, and I loved that philosophy for kids. I knew and liked many of the teachers that worked there. Don't get me wrong, I loved, loved the school I was at. I fought to get an interview there and it had been my home. I enjoyed the staff and the leadership there. But, my thinking was that I am close to retiring and the other teacher there was just beginning. I should volunteer, I told myself. I know I have seniority, but it would make more sense for me to move. This was my thinking before we were called into the principals office that breezy, cool day at the beginning of October.
"I'll do it," I said simply. "I'll move schools." Thus began my month of change. To try and express my feelings about it would be a list of contradictions. It's sad, invigorating frustrating, rewarding, confusing and enlightening all at the same time. One feeling that remains steady and without contradiction is the feeling of gratitude. I'm grateful for all the appreciation, support and patience that each school has shown me.