Another great day and experience in substitute-teaching!
Today I had the privilege of working with some wonderful young people who had some challenges – physical or developmental. I never really had much interest in working with special need students before, but I’m using my substitute experience to get a feel for working with a broad range of students. As a result, I’ve had the opportunity to work with these special learners a few times now and they surprise and inspire me in so many ways!
It dawned on me during my drive home that until fairly recently, society sidelined people who had disabilities or challenges. What a tragedy! As a species we’ll never be able to recognize or make amends for how many talented, gifted or true geniuses we shunted from the mainstream. The number of lives tragically wasted in this way boggles the imagination. There may be a few cases in which a person has conditions that truly prevent them from any degree of independent functioning, but I strongly believe that with patience, redirection and proper facilitation many more “challenged” individuals can learn and attain a reasonable degree of personal achievement and live fulfilling lives. I’m sure those are the barest of minimal requirements for anyone working with that special population.
The rewards, though, are sublime.
I love to see the “lights come on” whenever a student discovers a new connection. Working with learners of any age, ranging from “full-bird” colonels to infants, witnessing that response is magical for me. That “lights on” moment is even more profound when working with someone who, for whatever reason, has trouble making those connections.
My first interest in teaching was simply to teach English. The more I learn about young learners, though, the more I’m becoming interested in working with those identified with special needs. I finally scheduled my certification exam. After that I should be able to find a full time teaching job. Once that happens, I can consider my further educational goals and it is steadily becoming apparent that certification to work within the Special Education field may be a part of those goals.
I don’t know if I love teaching or learning more! Is there really a difference?