A big part of being a special education teacher is being
able to go with the flow and be flexible with whatever comes your way. You can
start a lesson thinking it will go one way and quickly find that your plans
need to change mid-lesson. You can go into school in the morning thinking your
day will follow a certain schedule and suddenly end up doing something
completely different. Or, in my case this fall, you can start the school year
thinking you know your teaching assignment and after a few weeks find yourself
teaching something comple
Last June, as I finished my first year teaching in an intellectual disabilities program at a brand new school, I was excited for September because I could not wait to feel like I knew what I was doing. I was looking forward to being able to repeat lessons, manage behaviors confidentially, and work with now familiar team members. The steep learning curve is behind me, I naively thought, and now I can put what I learned that first year into practice.
Ha! That’s what I get for making assumptions in June about the next school year!
The learning curve is back.
So far I love it. If I’m honest with myself, I love learning new aspects of the teaching profession, particularly when it comes to special education. In my new position I have a lot to learn, and I’m filling a notebook page a day with questions. I am learning about using guided reading in the upper grades (they know how to read already! What do I do next?), how to prepare for state testing, how behavior management works with older, more verbal children, how to teach math beyond basic addition… the list goes on and on.
I miss my old class and the nature of my students with intellectual disabilities. I miss their smiles and their small, daily triumphs. So far though, I have enjoyed every day in my new position. I can already tell that by the end of this school year I will be a stronger educator, as long as I continue to embrace the flexibility that comes with being a special educator.