Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Of 'blank faces' and 'talking to wall': Why be a Special Needs Teacher?

This post is sparked off by a comment to a friend that I do envy teachers who work with mainstream children, now that I work in a childcare setting whereby chattering are non-stop the moment I step into the centre. It's a joy to see children responding to every word and action you do/ say.

However, this is usually not the case when working with children/ individuals with special needs, but what exactly keeps us going? I am sure many will be curious.

Why, then do you continue to be a Special Needs Teacher? 

For the few hours you teach a day, many times...

- You get blank faces staring back at you -
So, you work hard at every new lesson you are going to deliver to make sure that you get to the ground with the children and with every success you achieve, you actually see the sparkles on the eyes of these children

- You exclaim to yourself and your teaching partner, amidst lessons, "I feel like I am talking to the wall!" -
So, you work hard at animating yourself aka being a clown, because seeing a smile on their face would mean that you have broken the ice and they will look forward to the next lesson with you

- You yearn much for a volunteer during the learning activities, but you usually get none -
So, you learn through these experiences the importance of 'child-centered teaching' rather than 'teacher-centered teaching'. You learn to humble yourself in front of these children who are teaching you new lessons every now and then

- You see their enthusiasm in fun activities but they end up getting upset with themselves in their inability to do the tasks without help -
So, you keep yourself up-to-date of the best and fun activities that these children can engage in, such that no matter how many times they fail, they will be vying to be the next to go again, until they have proven to you that they are your worthy students

- You know that there are much that these children want to say, but many are not able to express themselves well -
So, you master the art of second guessing every action, word, expression and whatever that is being observed in them. There comes the time whereby one look from them, you would know what they were trying to express, and that would bring comfort to them where the world is seemingly not understanding them

Your heart aches, at every failed attempt to be the best teacher in their hearts, but you know that you will continue to give your best to them...

When they jump for joy upon seeing you back after your long absence from work
When they work hard at every chance to show that they are all deserving best student of the class
When they know that you probably have had a hard day and behave themselves without you telling them
And when you see them shedding that passiveness to one full of zest and confidence

Only when you are part of this growing process with these children, will you realize how much life lessons you have picked up from them, that make every effort worthwhile.

And yes, that's "something even the most well paid job cannot give you".

Are you loving what you are doing? I am!

Be proud of what you do. Now, watch these videos to feel inspired.

"Miracle Worker" by Taylor Mali (Live version) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSDPhhfEY5A

"Miracle Worker"
 by Taylor Mali (Poem version) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o53i0kL6-Jw

"What Teacher Make" by Taylor Mali - 

"I thank God for my handicaps, for, through them, I have found myself, my work, and my God." ~ Helen Keller

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