One big reason for myself wanting to be a special educator is that I want to help children like my brother who have autism. I also want to help people who have Down’s syndrome and other disabilities as well since I was in middle school. Another reason for myself wanting to help children with disabilities is to better understand them, as well as myself.
Before I started college I worked as an aide at Arc of the Piedmont in Louisa. I was a volunteer who just made sure the clients who went there did as they were supposed to whether it be writing their name, doing math and english activities with flashcards, or watching the clients so they do not get into anything they were not supposed to. One client came to the Arc just so he could make friends and play Uno with him. Because he wanted a friend, I thought of him as a friend. Often I would mention him by name and talk about the things we do even though it violates confidentiality: Giving away personal information when you are not supposed to. But I did not want to think of him as a client, just as I did not want to think of my brother as a boy with autism to be understood, but as my brother. Because of the strong emotional attachments I would have with people, I ask myself, “Once I become a special educator, do I have it in me to be professional and think of my students as my students, rather than as my friends?” Because of how I saw one client as my friend and my brother as my brother, I can’t say that I would be the most professional choice to have as a teacher.
Of course, there were clients at the Arc that I did not build as much a relationship with as the one who came just to make friends and play Uno with. One client was always getting into stuff she was not supposed to so she really had to be watched. Another client did the same too when it came to paper: He liked taking pieces of paper and just tearing it up. Another did not say a whole lot: The most memorable word she said was “Cheeseburger” because that would be the one I would always catch her saying. Another client I could have conversations with especially when it came to crocheting but I’d ask her what she’s been doing and she would mostly say, “Nothing.” Another client had autism. Another client had Down’s syndrome. Another client I can remember taking my drink and drinking it when he was not supposed to I did not know what he had. I also remember a client who had cerebral palsy, and could not speak.
One thing I learned from that experience was that different people have different needs, and those people need the types of friends as well as teachers, aides, and volunteers that can accomodate those needs. My friend came to the Arc to make friends and find people to play Uno with. I happened to be the best choice for him to work with. As for my other clients, I can’t say I could build up the same type of relationship with them as I could with the one that wanted to make friends and play Uno.
When it comes to working in Special Education, know yourself first. Know your strengths and weaknesses, and know how you can use your talents, abilities, and strengths to help those in need. You also need to meet and understand your students as well. You need to know their interests, wants, needs as well as their disabilities(which you should not so much capitalize on) and what not to do with them. You also need to find ways to motivate your students to learn. For example, if a student likes dinosaurs, you can study dinosaurs with him and find ways of integrating the knowledge of dinosaurs so you could hopefully keep him(or even her) interested. Same as for if a student likes Barbie, Television, Music, or even Shakespeare. Definately know your students and what abilities as well as disabilities they have.
One thing I learned is that as much as we need teachers, it takes a certain type of person to be a teacher. As well as knowing your students, getting a good understanding of them, and helping them out, the teacher has to do such tasks as making lesson plans, finding activities to help spark and keep their interest, write IEPs(Which the teacher has to really think about and actually really get to know a student before doing so) as well as much other paperwork, and of course, the teacher much have the patience to put up with her students if they do something wrong or misbehave knowing they will not always get it the first time. Teachers also have to put up with parents as well and keep in mind that parents are not always going to agree with the teacher and her methods and style of teaching. So as much as possible, the teacher has to keep the parents of the children in mind as she teaches and tries to reach out to the children and must always find ways of dealing tactfully with them. Even so, there is not always going to be harmony between the teacher, the student, and the parent, because everyone is different and the teacher is not always going to please everyone and suit the wants, needs, and interests of all her students.
More than that, a teacher has to share the way that she teaches and learn different ways of teaching from her coworkers and has to really be in harmony and learn with her coworkers as well as with her students because chaos would happen if the teacher argued with a coworker such as an aide, other teacher, principal or other administrator, and so forth. If teachers can not find ways of living in harmony with, they can be let go(Also known as “getting fired”).
A teacher also has to be a role model, in and OUT of school. The reason for this is that they can get fired like if a teacher went out and got drunk with her(or his) students, or if a student had sex with a teacher then that would be violating professional student-teacher boundaries that all teachers as well as students have to obey. Teachers as well as their students have to follow different guidelines and rules such as not drink alcohol in class and don’t smoke on school property. Not following any rule has consequences, for student and teacher both.
Of course, not all teachers have to be female. Men can be teachers too if they are qualified for the job. The teaching job can be for any qualified person regardless of age, race, ethnicity, class, disability, religion, gender, or socioeconomic status.
Therefore, it is really important that harmony is maintained in the classroom for everyone: student, teacher, administrator, even parent, janitor, or anyone else with any association to a particular school. Definately know yourself before becoming a teacher. If you aren’t one to maintain harmony in a work or school setting, then teaching is not the path for you. If you generally are a harmonious person, I wish you well.