So I stayed up too late, a little bit too late!! My kiddos are not feeling so well. Coughing!! Runny Noses!! Vomiting!! Needless to say there won't be any school today.
I got to thinking about what things in my life got me to where I am. You know the Homeschooling Mother? I attended college and majored in Political Science, studied hard and I still love a good debate. After leaving college I looked for a job that was available in my interest. There weren't any paying jobs available, just seasonal during election times. I scoured the Internet and the newspaper and came across an ad in the newspaper looking for a Paraprofessional in a Special Education classroom paying a decent rate. I applied and received the job and worked with a very experienced, wise woman who while working alongside her made me what to work with children beyond the paycheck.
Most of the children in the Special Education classroom were there because of emotional reasons. 90% of the children could do the work their peers were doing in a regular ed classroom, but had emotional out burst that could tear up a classroom in less than a minute. It was my job to observe them for any signs that would indicate an emotional outburst. If I missed those signs, which happened often in the beginning then it became my job to remove them, and talk them through it until they calmed down so they could return to class. After a couple months of so I got good at catching the before and my talk game improved as well. What was happening was the kids caught on to the pattern. They have an outburst, I talk to them and they return to class. At the time there really wasn't a consequence for their actions because well to put it bluntly they were emotional scarred, and therefore put into a classroom of others who were" just like them"(not my words). The teacher was good and if I ever have an ounce of what she has I am blessed. Unfortunately just like some Special Education students get ousted and left out of certain types of activities, this teacher did too:(
I learned a lot of skills from her not only how to communicate to children at eye level, but also to talk to them like they are equal. Mrs. Teacher had mad skills that could teach a child who was considered "unteachable" due to a learning disability and have them counting money, reading and writing. I must confess I didn't clearly understand fractions until I was in her class. As time progressed my patience was getting shorter talking to the same kids over and over. Finally after creating a bond with these children I could give them the attention that they wanted and I told them that I really thought that they were capable of using their words better instead of throwing a chair across the room. I followed the " I message statement" that I learned from Mrs.Teacher. It goes something like this " I feel bad when you ________, because it me me feel like__________." It worked for about a month and then it went back to Monkey See, Monkey Do all over again. I was able to work with the school psychologist after awhile and then finally progress was being made. Knowing the history of a child you are working with is extremely Important. It is even more Important to be properly trained to work with children who are emotionally impaired. And this my friends is my first dislike with the public school system. I can go on and on about my life working in a Special Education classroom, but I better stop here!!
I didn't quit working at the school because now I was emotionally invested in the children you see, somebody had to watch how they are treating this Special Education program and I made it me. Actually what happened was they got tired of me bringing up issues, and the school psychologist and I were "talking" too much. Since I was a paraprofessional qualified to substitute teach that became my new gig. Here is when I found out I like to teach kids, in a major way. At first I was being bounced from classroom to classroom and then became the Building Substitute teacher. It is fun to go to a different class everyday, and then become familiar with all of the students in the school. But wait a minute, I was accidentally meeting siblings of students in the Special Education classroom and just by chance I was putting a puzzle together. I began to eat lunch with the students and it was so much fun! Unlike Mrs. Teacher in the Special Education classroom I was becoming accepted by the other teachers. Most of the teachers liked me, and appreciated that I was able to handle classroom management and follow the instructions that they had left for me to do. I then did a long term substitution for fourth grade and it was a blast, but I found out I take too much work home with me. Not school papers, I had the students check their own work:) I mean children's lives were coming home with me! I was stressed out about how much children had to deal with at school and what they were dealing with at home. Too much for me and just when I was going to walk away from this school to keep my sanity and mind my own business a position for a Reading Tutor became available. And this is when I felt like Teachers don't get enough respect!!
I applied and got the job!! What I saw that impressed me with the tutor job was working one on one with a child, having my own work space, independently working and then this working at a school thing shouldn't be so stressful. I was placed in a reading group with another awesome teacher and we eventually became really, really, good friends. All of the kids in the reading group were two levels below grade level. My tutor students were the bottom twenty in the Elementary Academy. I was trained and given the manual of how after ten weeks of one on one tutoring for twenty minutes the child should improve at least a half level before school ended. I learned a lot from this teacher's tolerance, understanding, and I began to share her love for teaching children how to read. After reading class my tutoring schedule began for the day. I had problems getting students to come to me because they felt picked on for having to come to me, I had teachers tell me that I had to come back for different reasons, I got every excuse in the book from teachers and administration on why these kids missed there tutoring session. For about a week I picked my nose while getting paid and no one was complaining about it but me and Mrs.Reading Teacher. Mrs. Reading Teacher and I came up with a plan and it worked. It was bribery!! It worked to get them there, to keep them coming it was my passion and pure fun that they looked forward to. By the way I must clarify something this school was a Public Charter School. Every now and then a lady came to observe the tutors to see if we were implementing the program correctly and then to grade us. LOL. I was the only tutor who was tutoring and everybody else who had this title was doing things like overseeing the lunchroom, or assisting a teacher with bulletin board displays. Take note this school would give you a title but if you didn't live up to it they are only going to let you pick your nose for so long. By the time the lady came to observe I was months into tutoring, and was given a warning. In my tutoring sessions we read, we played reading games, and we played whatever they wanted with the agreement that we must do reading for ten minutes. After a while I no longer had to pick up the kids from their classrooms they were coming to me! So exciting. O.K. so the lady was coming and I hadn't followed their training one bit so I had my students memorize the script to the lesson that they should be on and they did a great job in front of the observer! I know it is not ethical!! Here's the good part though, at the end of the quarter all of the kiddos were at their reading level. Just spending ten minutes with me reading and giving them positive attention. And this is where I fell deeply in love with working with children and a strong desire to get children to pick up a book.
Stay tuned for Part 2 when I accept a payout, Michelle is born and I start working at a preschool for the first time.