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08 July 2008

A peek into my mind

Again, sorry for the randomness of this post, but life is really too crazy for me to write anything more than dis-jointed statements about life right now.  But you get the jist of it.  DISCLAIMER: A lot of what I have to say specifically has to deal with children on the autistic spectrum and might not be applicable to all populations of students.

  • I've now been student teaching for 3 days and have learned more in those 3 days than I have in the 3 weeks I've had of masters classes so far.
  • I'm in a classroom of 7 children with autism (6 of whom are non-verbal, ages 9-11) and 2 paras****... I'm so pleased with my situation that it scares me.  Like should things really be this great???  I've heard horror stories about paras, but the ones in my classroom are like angels on Earth who truly care about the students and their success.
  • In the past three days I've witnessed a child having "an accident" (i.e. going #2 in his pants), another one tried to kiss me and thinks he is my boyfriend, another who is as fast as a lightening bolt and tried to run out of the class, a visit by CPS and serious problems at home, a parent who couldn't be more involved with her child's education, and another who has the most beautiful eyes and just stares at me for long periods of time.  Like gets up about 2 inches from my face and just stares and smiles.  You always hear of a lot of children with autism having issues with looking people in the eye, but you can never assume anything with kids about what they can or can't do.
  • Along with that, you can't assume what these children's home lives are like, what their intelligence level is, what they comprehend, etc.  The only safe assumption (in my opinion) is that even though a child may be non-verbal, they can still HEAR you and understand what you're saying.  A teacher should never talk about a student negatively or condescendingly in front of them.  You would never do it if they were verbal, so don't do it if they aren't.
  • I've also seen a lot of things that I'd do differently in the classroom, but have also gotten many good ideas about what works and things regarding classroom management of kids with special needs.
  • I've learned that I LOVE working with kids with autism... they're SO incredibly intelligent and so different.  Each one has different triggers, both positive and negative.  One of my students cannot speak and has some behavior management issues, but you get him on the computer and he will google anything and everything about Star Wars/Star Trek and knows how to find images, toys, information, etc.  It's amazing!!  He just knows how to do it without any instruction.  These kids have deep interests and obvious learning styles, the key is to tap into that and expand it.
  • "Autistic children" is not PC... it's "children with autism" or also commonly referred to as "children on the autistic spectrum".  It's a mouthful, but you'd never describe a person with cancer as a "cancerous person".  There are cancerous cells and masses, just as there are autistic behaviors or tendencies.  But people themselves are not cancerous or autistic. 
  • I feel so lucky to have found something that feels like more than just a JOB, but it's something that I actually don't mind getting up at 6am for.  Imagine that.  I'm already in love with these students after only 3 days, I can't imagine how I'll feel with my own class of students.
  • SCHOOL IS HARD.  Ugh... this week especially.  Every day I leave the house at 7 am, get home at 7 pm.  Then every day I have a paper to write.  And then other things to do.  And on Saturday I have to take two make-or-break tests and pass them both.  I'm not too too nervous about it, but still, just one more thing.
  • New York is an amazing city and I feel so blessed to be able to live here and experience different people, areas, and situations everyday.  The possibilities really are endless.
  • Happy happy birthday to my amazing Mom, I don't know what I'd do without you and you give me so much support and love, I can't even imagine going through all of this without having you as my soundboard!  
That's all I can think of for now... it's 11:20 and I still have another 2-3 page paper to write for tomorrow.  Oh life.

****Para = teacher's aid, paraprofessional, paraeducator, however you wish to call it.  There are 1:1 paras for students requiring more intense supervision and may need help toileting/feeding, behavioral paras, academic paras (for students with learning disabilities), and just general paras.  There have been many issues raised about the dedication and commitment of some paras, but I think that those few bad apples give a horrible reputation for all paras, who are on the whole committed to the students and are great people and coworkers.


Anonymous said...

You have no idea how happy it just made me reading your blog! :) I am so glad that things are going great!!!! I am jealous of your happiness in your position...haha :) I miss you girl


Mom said...

Darling, your kids are so very fortunate to have you. Your compassion & your ability to teach, love, & care are such rare traits - I am so happy you are living your life doing what you need and want to do. It may not be what you choose to do forever, but is EXACTLY where you should be right now.

And thank you for your b-day wishes! You and your sis mean the world to me. I feel so blessed to have such amazingly caring, intelligent & adventerous daughters. You have supported me every bit as much as I have supported you and it means the world to me angel!