special education

March 10, 2011 at 4:53 pm (teaching)

So I’m just over half way through my 16 week student teaching experience. I had an amazing placement for my first eight weeks, with a teacher who was the perfect combination of supportive when I needed it and hands off when I needed to do it myself. I had 13 wonderful students and 4 amazing aides, and I miss that class SO MUCH!

My latest placement (I’m finishing up my second week there) hasn’t been as wonderful. The students are fine, I’m starting to form a rapport with a few of them, but most of my issues stem from having a fundamentally different educational philosophy than the administration. I firmly believe that teachers have niches: a great teacher can teach any class halfway decently, but everyone has a particular population they will really shine in, especially in special education. This new school is not my niche, and I’ve been a little (maybe a lot) melancholy about it.

But today, my old class was having a little party before they go off track, and I was invited to come back for the last part of the school day. I walked up to the door and knocked, and one of the girls was standing right by the window. She started jumping up and down, shouting “Miss Stacey, you came back!! You came back!!” I laughed, and told her if she was so excited to see me, why wasn’t she opening the door for me?! Another girl came up and tapped me on the leg at the end of the day, as we were all getting ready to leave, and asked me if I’d be coming back tomorrow. I explained that no, she was going off track, and I had to be working at my other school, but maybe I’d come back in May when I wasn’t student teaching anymore. She listened to my ridiculously long answer, and when I was done she nodded her head and said, “Ok. You come back tomorrow.” 🙂 Gotta love her – she knows what she wants and she’s sure it’s going to happen that way!

I’d been feeling a little discouraged the last two weeks. When I don’t click with a class, I start doubting my abilities as a teacher. I’d been doing a lot of doubting lately, and I needed today’s visit to reaffirm how much I want to teach, and how ready I am to take on the challenge of my own class. I’m ready to tackle the next six weeks now, thanks to a bunch of students who will never know the impact they’ve had on me.

And a little video to start off the weekend (Thursday night is close enough to the weekend, right??). This is PS22, a public school from New York. They sang at the Oscars, and their teacher is one of my inspirations. Talk about making a difference!


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