Reflecting on Week Three of Student Teaching
This has been the week of self-doubt. Not in my chosen profession, but in myself. I'm too hard on myself, and I know that. I have to get over this "being human" thing. I want superpowers! Not in any area except being able to do my job as a teacher well and succeeding.
It wasn't all bad. Looking back I realize that I did make many connections and build relationships with the students in a deeper way this week. One student confided in me, but when I had to take what he said to his teacher of record, he felt betrayed. We worked through that, though. I was honest with him and explained that as a teacher, when students tell me certain things, I'm obligated to take those facts to the authorities. Amazingly he accepted it.
I also made connections with a student of autism and even had a breakthrough! He had an amazing rest-of-the-week after we made that breakthrough. That felt so good to me, and I tried to get him to recognize what that feeling of success felt like, too.
Another student of autism and I had fun exchanging puns and dry humor. And I was able to make a breakthrough with him by talking about, of all things, parasites. Love it. I love working with the autism students the best, I think. But then, when I turn around and work with the emotionally disabled kids I think I like working with them. Who am I kidding? I love working with students regardless of their diagnoses!
This week for social skills we played a Jenga game. I had questions on every Jenga piece for them to discuss. One of the students troubles me and I am still working on making a breakthrough with him. He is self-loathing and negative about everything. Breaks my heart. I try so hard to reach him, but he is hateful and pushes me away emotionally. Once in awhile, though, I see a glimmer of happiness in his eyes. It's fleeting, but as long as I see it once in awhile, I know there's hope. He needs someone to talk to so badly. I have questions for my supervising teacher about his need to be referred for counseling.
There are some things I'm perplexed about in this profession. One of them is that the Special Education teachers serve more as social workers than teachers. They are called upon all the time, and pulled out of their classrooms, to address behavior issues in general education classes. These are for students who have IEPs. This leaves their own students in their own classes with a paraprofessional. I don't like that the students, who need the consistency of a teacher's presence in a self-contained classroom, are always being abandoned. It's like they get punished, too, for the bad behavior of the other students.
That's where my self-doubt came in this week. I asked myself, "Do you really want to do this? It feels like all that special education teachers do is paperwork and social work. When do they really get to teach?"
I also felt that my cooking lesson this week could have gone better. But I was assured by my supervising teacher it actually went very well. My frustration stemmed from keeping everyone engaged. I finally was able to have every single student doing a job. We made muffins and smoothies. The results were delicious and the kids did a great job! I was very proud of them.
I'm also more tired than ever this week. I don't know if it's all finally catching up with me or not. But I can't seem to get enough rest. I can't seem to be able to feel rested. Even now as I type this, I can barely keep my eyes open. And at night, my legs and feet hurt me so badly that my restless leg symptoms set in.
I think Special Education teachers are the hardest working teachers in the schools. While other teachers clock out as soon as the kids load the buses, my supervising teacher and I work sometimes up to 11:00 PM on paperwork, project and lesson preparation and corresponding with parents. Not to mention shopping for supplies. I spent $75 just on supplies for two weeks of cooking lessons. And no, we don't get reimbursed.
I still love doing this, though. My enthusiasm is not hindered. But my body is shouting "slow it down, girl!" Thankfully this is Labor Day weekend! And while I have tons of homework, and edits to do for a book I've sold, at least I can curl up in the chair with my pets and stay off my feet for a bit.
Now, where'd I put those eyelid picks for propping open my eyes?