Friday, October 8, 2010

You're Being Watched: A School Observation

Audrey attends a small, private school for autistic children, where parent observations are encouraged and not derided like when she was in public school.  Still, I'd been extremely remiss about scheduling one.  She's been at this school for a year and I'd never observed until just a couple of weeks ago.  I'd always rationalized that it would be a disaster...that she'd be too distracted by my presence for me to get a reasonable idea of how she typically behaved and that she'd pitch a fit when I left.  It could also be that I was just too lazy to schlep the 25 miles when I could be home trying to beat my high score on Farkle.

When I got there I was greeted by the ever-cheerful LuAnne, who immediately told me that she was a big fan of my blog.  Which immediately made her my new favorite person.  Hi LuAnne!  Next I ran into Audrey's BFF, Grace Anne, who informed me that she had drawn a picture of Audrey in her jungle book.  She was sporting her usual tank top and headband.  It was still early in the day, so the headband was on top of her head and not in the John McEnroe/Ralph Macchio position that her mom claims it slips to by the end of the day.  Sadly, it was a Cubs headband, so I snubbed her and moved on.

Once in the classroom, I was able to observe 3 "centers" -- reading, spelling, and a "what's wrong with the sentence" type of exercise that focused on punctuation and capital letters.  Audrey had her back to me...she snuck a few peeks at me, but stayed on task and was pretty great the whole time.  I was pleasantly surprised by her focus and participation.  Frankly, she was far more distracted by the girl sitting next to her who sounded like she was hacking up a lung or two.  At one point, Audrey helpfully suggested "She needs a tissue."

I wanted to take a few photos, and since the advent of the iPhone you can do so completely unobtrusively with no flash and the sound turned off.  But I had to take care because some of the children have a "no paparazzi" clause in their contract.   You know when you get those forms sent home asking if you give your permission for pictures or video to be taken of your child?  I always feel like if they have to ask that must mean that some parents object to it, so that must mean I'm a bad parent if I allow it.  But I do anyway.  As you can tell by this blog, I'm not shy about bandying about our names and personal 411.  Anything short of the exact GPS coordinates of Audrey's current location is fair game...and on a bad day I might even be sharing that.

Here is one of my sneaked photos:
Her neck is just too weak to bear the
weight of a 100-year curse.

So after this successful observation, I guess I have no excuse not to continue scheduling them with regularity.  Expect to see me sliding down the Farkle leader board.


  1. Hehe.. looks and sounds like a cool school. :)

  2. What's Farkle?

    What animal did Grace Ann draw Audrey as?

  3. It sounds like you've found a wonderful school for Audrey! It's nice that they don't frown on parents coming into the classroom. I used to teach second grade, and my students were always thrilled when their parents came to volunteer!

  4. I LOVE your style...we are going to be great friends.
    It's good to meet you.
    One spring chicken to the next ...

    So--tell me about Grace Ann's 100 year curse...I have a 9yo who thinks she's not human...maybe this is related somehow... lol

  5. I always sign the releases too.

    I wish Owen's school had observation days. Of course I could probably just sneak into his classroom, nobody would hear me coming....

  6. @TherExtras: Farkle is an online dice game. I've actually shaken the addiction with the help of a 12-step program.

    @Tabitha: I should have been clearer that Grace Anne is not actually suffering under a 100-year curse herself...just that of the baseball team that she supports who have not won a World Series in 100 years. I never tire of repeating that fact.

  7. I love that her school has observation days! I had an open-door policy in my classroom, but almost nobody took advantage of it. And it looked like Audrey was really well-behaved for your visit too - bonus! I'm also curious about this 100-year curse...

  8. nice pic. my son would be the one with his head down. I don't know why but he does that a lot at school when i observe

  9. I so envy you this private autism school. Our public school is very good, but Billy's still in pre-K. I'm worried about the transition to kindergarten, when he'll be expected to "regulate himself" more during the day.

    Whenever I visit his school, he decides to ride around on my back everywhere: to the bathroom, to centers, to the playground. I don't know why. He doesn't do this at home. I'm sure, though, the teachers all believe he does.

    But I have no excuse. His school is across the street.

  10. @Lynn: I knew you were observing that day and I did not put that cubs headband, that my husband bought, on her. I've now discovered that she keeps a secret stash of them at school or in her backpack. I don't really care about either one of your baseball teams. I'm from St. Louis, remember?! If I was gonna sit through 3 hours of watching men move extremely slowly, and occasionally see a ball fly through the air, I'd watch the Cards (or I'd watch my husband play fetch with the dog.)

    @TherExtras: I remember Grace Anne drew Audrey as herself in her jungle journal, but the version of Audrey who is constantly trying to avoid volcanic lava.

  11. Hello from your Spring Chicks Tribe! I love your humor...I don't really know "Farkle", but just the mere mention of it was making me laugh...looking forward to reading more!

  12. I can't believe you ratted out Grace Anne about her (formerly) secret stash of Cubs' headbands. In the photo, she's not sleeping or suffering from a 100-year curse. She's hanging her head in disappointment because you broke her heart by ratting her out and added salt to the wound by comparing her to an aging washed up teen actor and an aging washed up tennis player. All this even after she drew that picture of Audrey in her Jungle Book. I think Grace Anne probably would have preffered that you stayed home and Farkled today. :)

  13. Fellow Spring Chicken here. How risky of you to use a wonderful iPhone to take a picture, even with the "no paparazzi policy." That made me giggle.

  14. Sounds like a great shool, how cool to be able to observe. And you dress her in the cutest damn clothes - even from behind I can tell that green top is killer. in another life, I'm having a daughter. and getting advice on where to shop for her from you.

  15. I never sign the kids ALWAYS know when their picture is about to be they pose..and wind up looking like the before picture in a laxative ad..I have 50 gajillion school portraits to prove it..I want them to have good self esteem and those pictures would only blow it..

  16. I'm glad the school visit went well!

  17. I love having visitors in my classroom. Parents usually don't want to tho. But when they do, they're so surprised that it seems like regular school. Ha.
    Love the sweet photo.

  18. So now you can relax and enjoy YOUR time knowing Audrey is on task and behaving.

    Oh, you were doing that already?

    Carry on.....