Special Education

Why I Do My Final Progress Notes After the School Year is Over

As you read the title of this post I know you all are saying “Are you nuts?” But hear me out on this one.

I’M PLENTY BUSY…

There is plenty I get to before the school year is out. I pretty much always have my IEPs done by mid-May and I do any assessments that are needed to document progress. I make introductions to next years teachers when we know them and I meet kids I will be working with next year, which can be a very large undertaking. And I clear out the spaces, find missing items, return others borrowed items, throw away a ton of papers and mark everything that stays so the custodial staff can clean the spaces from top to bottom. This is a large chore if I am using several spaces. This year, that was the case.

But there is one IEP piece that I almost always complete the week or two after school is done. Those are my 4th quarter progress notes. We technically have two weeks after the quarter is done to get progress notes completed, so I take full advantage of this fact during the end of the year frenzy. While there are people who disagree with me and I COULD push it and finish, I don’t.

SAVOR IT

For me, those last weeks and final days are special and should be savored. Yes, we all have to do school work: culminating projects, final assessments and running records to document progress. Those things get done.  But my primary focus outside that is to reflect, celebrate, appreciate and say good-bye to everyone. I won’t ever have this time again with my team or this group of students. I want to be fully with them–not being distracted by paperwork.  This requires me to be right there in the mix with kids and staff. Not holed up with my computer.

TAKE TIME TO REFLECT WITH YOUR TEAM

Those of you that work in teams know that we can go through a lot together. Some teams don’t get along. But my team is particularly strong; they are my school family.  We trust each other to provide solid support to students and to each other. As I sit and think about going through a school year; the things we’ve seen, heard, done and not done, its kind of staggering. It can feel like peace, tranquility or flow or it can feel like a war zone, a circus, or the set of a soap opera. With the everchanging landscape, our first order of business is really to celebrate the fact that we made it to the finish line one more year. We’ve seen and done a lot in our tiny corner of the world, trying to change one life at a time.  We just sort of soak that all in. We think about what we’ve accomplished, what we didn’t get to and what we want to change for next year.

TAKE TIME TO REFLECT WITH STUDENTS

We’ve all been through a lot together too, sometimes more. Adults are better able to show self-control and manage their feelings than students. I end up with many behaviors on my caseload, so I get all the problems, all the angst, all the issues, all the drama. We go through all of it together and come to some good understandings. While I have no problem letting them go, we’ve gotten to know one another in a tight way and i want them to know that even though they are going to have different teachers, I am still going to be here to check in with when they need it.

We have other things to accomplish in terms of work, so we can’t spend all our time talking about where we’ve been or what’s to come. But cleaning lockers, and going through materials in the resource rooms are a way we can recollect what we’ve done, in addition to talking about how our flexible space worked and what suggestions they have for changes. And finally, I try to prepare them for next year. I introduce new staff, take them around to the spaces and answer any questions they have. Sometimes I meet with kids in summer to keep them going over the break and to help them transition to a new case manager.

It may come back to a time where I get all my progress notes done early. But I won’t let it interfere with me just being with my school family and school kids. Do you think I’m nuts? When do you get your progress notes done?

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