Big Changes in a Small World

Wow, I really had to clear the dust off the blog this time. There’s been nary a word from me on WordPress, Twitter, or Google+ since early May. Many of you frequent readers/commenters are bloggers yourself, and I would like to apologize–I haven’t been stopping by your blogs these last few months either.

Here’s why:

There have been some big changes in my professional life since the closing of the 2011-12 school year. I no longer teach high school English. In early July, I accepted a position at a local intermediate school, and I now teach 5th and 6th grade special education. I loved English and would like to teach it again in the future, but I really wanted to see what else was out there in the education field. High school can be a very rewarding experience, but it’s such a very small piece of a student’s educational career. Most of the truly important work is done earlier in a child’s life. Numerous studies have indicated that by the 7th or 8th grade a child’s future is pretty well decided based upon their current level of academic achievement and performance. Wanting to be a bigger piece of the puzzle (and to satisfy my curiosity), I looked into positions from late elementary (4th/5th) to upper middle school age.

I found several openings, but for some reason this one, my current position, really resonated with me. A special education classroom composed of students with mild-moderate disabilities whose main struggles in school and the mainstream classroom are not related to academic performance but behavior. These are students that because of  ADHD, OCD, Asperger’s, etc. have been, in a sense, alienated. Their peers don’t understand them, their teachers are not trained to help them, and their parents just don’t know what else to do. I toured the school in late June, spoke with teachers in similar classrooms, and met with some possible students–I discovered that this was me. It fit. This was it. I immediately filled out all the required forms, shook all the necessary hands, and was hired to teach special education for the 2012-13 school year.

This is the third full week of school, and so far I am loving it. Every day is filled with smiles and laughter and many, many interesting stories. While it is a challenge, there’s something to be said for going to be exhausted each day, knowing that I, quite possibly, made a difference in a child’s life, a child that everyone had given up on.

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