Friday, April 18, 2008

discernment, continued

Have I mentioned I have a new job? Until the end of the school year, I'm working as an aide in second grade, except when they need a substitute. The money for an aide is abysmal, but I do really enjoy being around the kids.

Last week, though, was my first week of two wherein I'm one-on-one with an (as yet undiagnosed) ADHD kid. He could give the Energizer Bunny a run for its money, but in terms of stubbornness and force of will, the kid's a piker compared to DS1 at that age.

In the course of the last week, I've managed to 1) get him to tie his own shoes 2) do all his morning work and 3) quit going to bathroom every single period. I tolerate a lot from him -- he pretty much has to move constantly -- but I don't allow him to disrespect me, and I do make him come back to wherever and try again if he runs in the halls. It all comes down to one thing: I mean what I say. That's the one thing he has to know and really believe about me -- so far, so good. We'll see how next week goes.

In the course of this past week I have received a lot of positive feedback from the rest of the staff. The teacher I'm working with has told me that I have a gift and that I should go into Special Ed instead of secondary. I feel very comfortable working with certain types of kids because I had my trial by fire with DS1, who nowadays is your typical brilliant 11-year-old.

I asked our Special Ed staff (I love them, they're fantastic) how they do it without having to go home and cry every day. It's one thing to work with bright kids with poor impulse control, the way I have been, it's another to work with kids that you know won't be able to progress at all. Even worse? The parents who either cannot or will not engage with their child and his abilities. It hurts to see parents who fundamentally misunderstand their own children, and with learning disabled kids, it's fairly common.

I told my mentor teacher I have no idea what I'm doing right now. I was struck today -- it's Friday, and I had to total my hours for the week -- by what a pittance I'm earning, but at the same time, I was so happy to go to work this morning. I subbed in DS2's first grade class and we had a great time, even though I missed my second graders a bit. I'm not doing this for the money, I'm doing it for the experience.

I'm doing good work. I tell the kids, and I've been telling my Religious Ed class all year, that to really feel good about yourself, you need to do good work. So I'm not surprised by how happy I'm feeling, but I feel a little bit like a freshman invited to the senior prom: I love being in second grade because that's where I am right now. If I were working in middle school, or high school, I'd probably feel the same way, right? Knowing me? Yes.

Maybe I'm wrong, I don't know. I need to vary my classroom experiences so I can gage what I can do long-term without burning out. Who knows where I'll end up. I just know I'll be in a school somewhere, hopefully earning a bit more than an aide's hourly wage.

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