Why do you actually teach kids like that?
A question I, unfortunately, hear on a rather regular basis. And sometimes I do wonder myself. The children I teach have a range of complex learning needs, and it is a massive range. The children have global developmental delay, chromosome disorders, autism, ADHD and EBD. It can feel an overwhelming challenge and some days I do find myself wondering what, and why, I have taught them.
I have worked at Special School for four years. I went full time this year. Every year is a vast learning curve. Nothing ever quite goes to plan no matter how much, or little, time you spend thinking about it. It only takes one child to have a meltdown, another to need toileting and another to just decide to do the opposite of anything you say and the day kind of goes awry! Its time like these that need a team of people that work well together, understand each others strengths and weaknesses and will just get on with the job. I am fortunate that, most of the time, we are good at doing this. Challenging behaviour places really stress on a team, more about that if I am chosen to do another blog! But suffice to say it was another steep learning curve we managed to conquer (so far!)
When a child completes a 5 minute task that at the start of the year would have meant a two hour breakdown that’s why I work with them.But to go back to the question why do I want to work with these children? Well because the rewards are far more than you can ever imagine. Yes I am not teaching in the way I was trained to teach, and that in itself takes some getting used to. One of my aims is to get the children on the path to reading and writing and we still have targets hanging over us but not like mainstream. You constantly have to think outside the box, finding multi-sensory ways to teach the concepts you want to. Everyday sort of has to be the same for routine purposes but then everyday is different. When a child completes a 5 minute task that at the start of the year would have meant a two hour breakdown that’s why I work with them. When a child signs a new word, or exchanges a new picture for something they want that’s why I work with these children. When a child no longer screams and begs his mum not to take him to school every day, that’s why I work with these kids. The list could go on but I assume you get my point!
Special education is just that, it can leave you feeling elated and deflated within seconds, it tries your patience but you learn to have a not quite endless amount. I teach the children I work with because I want to. I want to give them a chance to make progress with learning. Most importantly I work with the children because they inspire me every single day.