The sun is shining. The birds are singing. It’s a warm and wonderful day in Hamilton, Ontario … maybe one of the nicest ones that we’ve had this year. Despite the perfect weather, I was having a major problem this morning: I couldn’t seem to park in the lines. I could see the lines. I pulled in well, I backed up to straighten my car, and I pulled back in again, but I’m way too far over to the right. I’m almost hugging the line. And when I got out of the car, I realized that there was enough space between the front of my car and the sidewalk for me to almost have a little picnic. 🙂 The photograph below is after three correction attempts, and my eventual acknowledgement that my parking today might be “just good enough.”
While I always like a good parking anecdote, I share today’s story for another reason. My ability to park was really challenged this winter. With so much snow and ice, there were months when I couldn’t see the lines, and I had to persevere like never before. By the end of the winter, I truly thought that I might have met my parking goals, and possibly my “Parking IEP” could be reconsidered for next year.
Then today happens, and I’m reminded of something important for me and for my students: the end of the year sometimes exacerbates problems. I think back to my years of teaching students with autism. It was right around now that often behaviour would become more challenging. The weather’s improving. Students (and adults) are starting to think about the summertime. There are already discussions about next year. I know that many of my Grade 1’s are talking about Grade 2 … and while many of these discussions are with excitement, some are with trepidation. Change is scary. For some students, it can cause anxiety. For our neediest students, change is often the most challenging. And so, it’s at this time of the year that problems that weren’t existent for a while may become existent again. These are the students that right now, more than ever, need that calm tone, that routine structure, and that reminder that things really will be okay.
Now is this why I couldn’t park properly today? Maybe not. But as my thoughts were on the day ahead, and as I lacked the focus on pulling into the spot correctly, I struggled. Then each new attempt that brought less success had me struggle more. Eventually, I needed to walk away. Maybe we also need to give our students opportunities to walk away, take a break, and come back again with a clear mind and the desire to try again. Who knows? Maybe I’ll go out at lunch and try parking again, or maybe, I’ll just wait and make tomorrow’s parking better. How do we acknowledge when our students need these same “walk away” opportunities? How do we give these to them? How do we make the coming months calmer for those students that need this the most? I’d love to know what you do!