Friday, January 23, 2009

Shot to the heart

I really love my class, and although it’s only ending the second week, the students are already wiggling their way into my heart. They are each so special and offer so much to this world simply by being themselves. They each have their own personalities, and each day I spend with them, I learn about their interests, likes, and dislikes. They are so funny and remind me so much of my own kids, particularly the boys.

The kids come from varied home lives and I understand (or at least I think I do) how teachers get burnt out. All teachers have to accept and understand where their students are coming from, but it is imperative in the field of special education because the students require so much more support in order to be successful in school. To do that, we have to work directly with the parents. It’s hard, especially when the parents are struggling themselves. Some of these kids come from homes that are stressed beyond belief. There is one student in particular who has really been weighing heavy on my heart and mind. The student’s mom passed away last spring, and is now being raised by the child’s father. The father is unemployed and money is very tight to say the least. Home life is very stressful, being a single father, unemployed, and raising 2 children, one of whom has a significant disability. The child has autism and as a result, communication is limited. It is difficult to determine wants, needs, or desires because the child has difficulty expressing them. The result is a tantrum, which we had many today. But, in between the tantrums were many hugs and I will admit my eyes welled up with tears because the child cried out for “Mama” during 2 of the tantrums. It was so difficult to not let my emotions get the best of me, but my mentor teacher is great and she remained calm and firm and handled the situation with grace.

I am beginning instruction next week. I can’t believe I am being observed for my mid-term evaluation in a couple of weeks! I am very nervous. I am going to be teaching reading instruction through phonics. I learned an instructional strategy last semester and am now going to put it into practice. Reading instruction is my weakest area so I am nervous yet relieved at the chance to try it. I am not sure if I feel that way because of the amount of pressure that is put on teachers to teach students how to read, or if it is because I have had limited coursework, or perhaps a combination of the two. At any rate, it will be good for me to challenge myself. I feel like if I can successfully teach reading, then I can teach anything.