On becoming a REAL teacher

In December I completed the required student teaching hours for the Post-Baccalaureate degree in Special Education (severe disabilities and autism) that I’m nearly done with now. The plan was to go back to working as a skills trainer until this summer when I’d have my certification and could apply for teaching positions. In a very surprising turn of events my supervisor for the skills training position recommended me for a teaching position at a middle school that had just become open and the school urgently needed to fill it.

So here I am, a newly hired teacher! Having just completed the first week back, I feel great. There is more than a lot of work to do, but because I’ve never done any of this before it feels so exciting to be planning lessons and grading assignments.

The position is for eighth grade Special Education. It is a resource position, which means my students spend part of their day in my class for certain subjects, depending on their limitations, and part of the day in the general education setting. So I’m currently in the process of coming up with the curriculum for an English class, a math class, and a reading class.

This setting is very different than what I’m used to as the kids I’ve worked with in the past have had severe disabilities and these eighth graders have mild to moderate disabilities. One student in particular suffers from such obvious shame over being in Special Ed, however his skills are the lowest in my class. How can I best help this kid that doesn’t want anyone to know, even his teachers, just how little he understands?

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4 thoughts on “On becoming a REAL teacher

  1. The best place to start is by showing that you believe in him! It’s amazing a kid’s capabilities knowing ‘someone’ believes in him.Good luck, Gwen . . . you’ll do an awesome job.

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  2. I hate that we still have this stigma about special ed; sigh. I teach early childhood education and it’s always amazing to me when I have students who are just completely ignorant of what children with special needs are capable of and that they first and foremost, are children! They just have an additional challenge (or several!) that other kids don’t. Ugh. Anyway, for your little friend, I’d talk with him. Explain that you think he’s smart and capable and wonderful–focus on whatever he’s good at. Then explain that sometimes everyone is put in a situation where they aren’t happy or comfortable–it’s just a part of life. And he can make the decision to do his best and eventually he’ll find a better place–but that the more he hides and fibs about what he needs or understands, the longer it will take. Mostly I bet he’ll just need time to trust you and understand that you don’t think he’s “dumb” or whatever horrible term he’s had thrown at him before. 😦

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