Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Special Education

For the past 7 weeks I have been working as a special education teacher's aid. I have been in 3 different classrooms; high school, 5-7, and early childhood. I have learned a couple things about myself. First, if I ever thought I was patient before, I was wrong. This profession requires an immense, almost saintly level of patience. But we are charged with being 'patient with all.' And patience as a virtue needs to be exercised. Lately it feels like my patience has been running a marathon every day.

On my first day in the high school, the teacher, Theresa said to the class, "Today we will have a new teacher, Mr. Andy..."
To which a student in the class interrupted, "AND HE'S A DORK!"
There were a few seconds of awkward silence .... "Ok, then," Theresa said.

The biggest challenge for me has been trying to teach the kids how to read, write, do math, etc. without being able to have a conversation with them. None of the kids in early childhood are able to have a conversation with us, which makes the education process frustrating. Some of our kids are Autistic, and at times can lash out for no particular reason. For example, one of the girls in the class got her shoe string caught around a chair. When I knelt down to try and free her, she yelled and grabbed my beard and pulled with vigor. "Nooooo!" I cried, "I'm trying to free you!"

The best part of my job is the small victories that come by from time to time. For example, I taught a student to write her name two days ago. And, I helped another learn to subtract. Thus I have passed on my knowledge in mathematics, in its entirety, to the next generation. But, most of my day is not exciting. Most of my day is spent keeping the kids away from the fire alarms and on task for the most part.

After my days at school I wait around for Amanda to get off work. I spend my days walking around the small towns and in the fields. Most people give me the strangest looks, probably because I look like a wandering homeless man ... which really isn't that far off. Yesterday, I came across a construction crew working on replacing a pipe under the road. I stopped by and commented to a worker, "Whatchall doin, replacin a pipe?! Well, see ya." and I kept walking. I soon hope to be upgraded to "that crazy homeless guy who walks everywhere." Full speed ahead!


And when I'm tired and weary
And a long, long way from home
I just reach for mother Mary
And I shall not walk alone


dies irae said...

"I spend my days walking around the small towns and in the fields."

You miss Kentucky don't you...

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be wonderful if someone, who had a good understading of how it was in the real world to be Autistic and how that really affected not only the person, but their family, and made for trying times on a person's patience, if that someone, who was gifted in many ways himself or herself by God with a great intellect, yet with a great compassion for people, if that someone would be able to pursue higher education in that very field and through his or her work in the field bring methods and treatments forth and into practice based on their study of the situation, that would make life better for many?

Maybe we can find someone like this out walking in the fields and in the small towns?

Erin said...

That is too funny!!! I can definitely picture you walking around the town with your full beard, making new friends everywhere you go, including the construction crew :)

Doyle Rules said...

"Hey look, there's a lephrachaun! In that field! And now in that small town! Cool! ... I didn't realize leprachauns were so Indie, though."

Anonymous said...

My mom teaches 4th & 5th grade special ed classes. I've been going in to help them a couple days a week. Gave me a whole new level of respect for my mom. You're doing great things.