I have always gravitated toward students who require a teacher who thinks outside of the box to reach their individual needs. I have a passion for students with disabilities and/or mental health needs. I had the privilege to work for a school who also offered a residential program for students with a range of disabilities. This school I will not name as ownership switched hands and it no longer provides the exceptional care it once did…which is one reason I decided I needed to move on…a decision that was heavy on my heart, but necessary for many reasons. I’m digressing though. The students were an incredibly difficult group as I had students in my room no other teachers wanted, and sadly teachers would speak up in meetings protesting the idea of having one of my students placed in their room. Yes, my students had some severe needs, but I needed to be the one who refused to give up on them! The one who wanted them!
I was the Special Education Teacher in a 6:1:3 classroom, which means 6 students, 1 teacher, and 3 teacher assistants. This sounds like a cake job right? Not in the least! Students ranged in ages 16-21 and often displayed behaviors such as biting, hitting, kicking, spitting, punching, playing with feces (well, any bodily fluid really), intentional vomitting (sometimes then to intentionally spit it on you), breaking anything they could get their hands on, taking their clothes off, and sometimes even running out of the school and darting through the neighborhood. We were required to perform physical interventions daily to keep students and staff safe. Yes, the neighbors and the police were not fans of our school, which again is sad if they were able to understand why some of these children acted in the ways they did. I love these students despite all the struggles and while I taught them they taught me. Some were abused in ways I could never imagine, some were born with disabilities that parents just did not understand, some came from amazing families, but due to their disability behave differently than we expect.
Teaching at that school built my character in ways I never imagined until reflecting back. I was determined to be the change, and I know I was. On my last day two students decided to give me their medals they won in the Special Olympics (pictured above)…they will never know the impact of that gesture, as I will never know the impact I made on them.
Currently I teach English to students with a variety of needs ages 16-21. Students include young parents, refugees, students with disabilities, students with mental health needs, and it is what I’m meant for. Thank God for Superpowers!
One of my favorite songs to add to the theme: “Superwoman” by Alicia Keys
post inspired by: Discover Challenge “Superpower”
Today’s post was written using my phone due to a computer issue, so please forgive any errors.