What a week! I’m so happy it’s Hump Day! This week has been a challenging one for me at work. Back in 2006, I was trying to decide my career path after graduating with my Bachelor of Arts degree in History. I tried a very brief job in insurance and decided it wasn’t for me. I was drawn to the teaching profession and specifically to the world of special education. I knew I wanted to be active (i.e. not sitting at a desk), have some degree of autonomy, and provide some type of service (you know, make the world a better place!). I completed my course work for my Master’s of Science in Education, Special Education in 2009, but I was hired provisionally in 2007 under a one-time license that the state of Virginia put into place to deal with special education teacher shortages. I’m happily fully certified to provide learning disability services in grades K-12.
With all that being said, sometimes I doubt my decision, my path. Oh.my.goodness. This week is one of those weeks. Although my “hours” are from 7:25-2:35 formally, I often find myself doing Internet searches for new ways of teaching this or that, having parent/teacher conferences or IEP meetings, discussing instruction/curriculum with other teachers, participating in training/inservices at the district and school level, or checking/grading/planning/just generally worrying about my students. Our dinner conversations at home frequently include me rehashing a particular skill that I’m struggling to teach or an issue that I’m worried about as it relates to my students. I’m no saint. I wouldn’t even say I’m the most patient person I know. In fact, I didn’t even think I liked kids until after I had started teaching. Whoops. Fortunately, I do like them. 🙂 I like teaching. Heck, I even like lesson planning. I’m not even too irritable about the paperwork.
Here’s an interesting job description for special education teachers that I found on this website:
Job Description for Special Education Teacher, Preschool, Kindergarten, or Elementary School
A person applying for a position as a special education teacher for preschool, kindergarten or elementary grades will be expected to go above and beyond the responsibilities of teachers who work with children who don’t have special needs or learning disabilities. Special education teachers work with children who can have any combination of emotional, physical or mental challenges that require a higher level of training than teachers who work with children who don’t have these struggles. Because of the challenges involved with teaching these students, a higher level of communication skills, compassion and patience is expected of both the teachers and the parents of special needs children. A special education teacher will be required to provide more individualized attention to students due to the variety of circumstances that are unique to each child in a special education classroom.
Working as a teacher with younger children who have special needs is an important responsibility. As with all children, the development of learning in the earlier stages of a child’s education will play a large role in shaping the child’s life as a teen and as an adult. Being able to assess the needs and create achievable and positive goals for each individual child requires a high degree of awareness and understanding. A special education teacher will have to adapt to situations quickly and defuse conflicts and trauma on a frequent basis. It’s also more than likely that sensitivity to emotions will be necessary for this job.
Sometimes, this job just wipes me out. Today is one of those days. I’m completely zapped of “get-up-and-go!” I hate it too. I hate feeling like I want to just be an amoeba. Truthfully, it’s beautiful here this afternoon, and I can’t drag my tail back out of the house to enjoy a few bits of time outside. If you know a teacher or even a special education teacher, be a little extra nice to them. I know every job has its challenges, but no one (except a heart doctor) deals with other people’s hearts. I am blessed to work with the hearts and souls of many people, their children, every single day. It can take every bit of what I learned in school and every bit of my heart/brain/feet and then ask for it again tomorrow. A kind word goes along way. Unfortunately, a yucky word does too.
Here’s a few funnies for a lighter note…
I don’t mean to seem ungrateful here. Just a some “food for thought!” If you’re a teacher, hang in there! Only about 9ish weeks to go until summer break/rejuvenation period! Spring break in a week and two days (but whose counting!??!?) for me!