Thursday, November 09, 2006

My life As A Teacher

For those who don't know I am a teacher, well a Special Education Teacher to be exact. This is my 15th year of teaching now, and well let’s just say I am half way to retirement.

So this has been an interesting year so far, considering the nightmare year I had last year this year seems a breeze. Usually when I tell people what I do for a living they usually respond in one of two ways: Wow that's really commendable of you, or Wow I feel really sorry for you.

Its funny how often I will have my Gen Ed colleagues walk past my room shaking their head because they hear me repeat the same directions 5 times in a row, only to later stop me in the hall and say "How can you stand it?"

Well I don't look at it that way, I love my job most days, and the only complaints that I really have don't involve the actual art of teaching these kids but rather dealing with all the paperwork and academic bureaucracy that goes along with it, but that is another post in of itself.

So why do I like my job?? Well there are many reasons, first I love to teach, secondly I love the challenge. Sure anyone can stand in front of a class and teach a lesson in Language Arts, but can they individualize that instruction to cover all the learning styles that I have in my class?, covering the auditory, tactile, visual and nonverbal learners? Of course not, that is why we are called "Special Educators". It takes something special to do this job, or at least to be a little touched in the head.

So I tend to not be the typical stiff necked rigid teacher, what can I say I like to have fun, crack jokes, use sarcasm every chance I get and well laugh at myself also.
So although I like to keep things light, I am still a tough teacher to please, and expect a hell of a lot out of my students. I expect them to acknowledge their disabilities but never let them define them. I guess having a teacher that is a bit like them in many ways (ADD Poster child) helps in that area.

So I have an interesting bunch of kids this year and I have to honestly say that I have had more entertaining events happen than I have in a long time. They are a mixture of cognitively impaired (borderline mentally retarded), learning disabled, socially retarded, speech impaired, otherwise health impaired (that’s a nice way of saying CRAZY) and oh the frosting on the cake, one bi-polar student. Yes I am surrounded by bi-polar madness 24/7 between my brother and this student. Let's just say it makes for an interesting school day.

So as I was saying life is always interesting in my room. It is amazing what you observe these kids doing when they "think" you are not listening or watching them. Last month we had oh let's see 8 or so days of state standardized testing, and well my kids don't do too well on them because they are written at grade level, which they are not working at. So they try to do their best and well fill the rest of the test session time with odd little actions, this is a list of just a few of the things I observed them doing while they should have been concentrating on their test:

70"s Boy tapping out the tune "Smoke on the Water" with his pencil on his desk, ya got to love a 13 year old who knows who Deep Purple is! Followed by his obsessive habit of rubbing his nipples when he becomes frustrated, what? At least it isn't something else!

Various antics by another student whom I fondly refer to as Creepy Boy. Why do I call him that? Because I have an uncontrollable obsession to shower off the creepy feeling he gives me daily. Anyway he took his pen and hooked the cap on his lower lip so that he could shove one end of it up his nose by moving his lower lip, another favorite of his, spraying his spit on the student seated in front of him, or taking his cd that the test was recorded on and spinning it like a top on the end of his pencil.

Then there are all my other students who are constantly asking me to explain the answers to them, ummm it's a test I can't help you ---helloooo.

The gum that comes out of the mouth and is stretched two feet in front of their face and somehow ends up all over their answer document, humm think that one might just get tossed because it gets stuck in the scantron.

The student who removed the batteries from their cd player and was putting the end on their tongue to see if they could get a shock, hummm do I tell them that, that trick only works on 9-volt batteries or do I let them go through life not knowing that nugget of information? hummmm decisions, decisions.

The students who think it's cool to play connect the dots with their answer documents in an attempt to recreate the image of the Eiffel Tower. And of course the student whom I have to proctor each answer for because they broke their hand one day into this testing session from hell.

But the winner of the gold star for this years most memorable "Special Ed" moment during standardized testing goes to 70"s Boy who somehow managed to flip himself out of his chair and land flat on his back during the middle of one testing session. Ok the sight of him laying on the floor with his legs straight up in the air was priceless, I am chuckling even now as I write this, but the kicker was his explanation of how he managed to accomplish such a feat---I was trying to swat a fly, damn must have been one big fly.

See told ya life is never boring in my classroom.