A Day to Remember
By Amanda Wasem
Working with children that are mentally and physically challenged has been one of the most demanding and rewarding experiences of my life. I earned my degree from Miami University in Early Childhood Education. I felt well equipped to teach children ages 3 to 8. I wanted to stay sharp in my field and gain some valuable work experience so becoming a substitute teacher seemed to be the most logical next step.
Since I have been a substitute I have taught all grades, kindergarten through 12th grade, each grade has it??™s own set of obstacles but working specifically with children with special needs brings the same difficulties as the others with many different kinds of challenges as well.
November 28, 2006 is a day that will forever hold a place in my heart. I received a call form a local Elementary School. They were in need of a substitute teacher for their special education classroom. Unaware of what I was in for I accepted with no questions asked. With about ten min to spare before leaving the house, it hit me the fear and then guilt for having the fear. I knew very little about teaching handicapped children, the one class I had in college was all I had to go on. After calming myself down and gathering my wits I grabbed my laptop and began cramming as much information on the subject as one could in the short amount of time.
The walk down the hallway to this classroom was one of uncertainty and insecurity. But the moment of truth had arrived and I was standing in front of a door that opened my eyes to a world I had never known. After prepping myself on the lesson plans that had been left I also read a note left by the teacher explaining each child in her class and their areas of difficulty. I would be teaching a classroom filled with 3 children that had autism, a child with a physical challenge, and 2 students that had severe learning disabilities.
The bell rang and in walked happy, smiling students. As the children began their daily routines, it didn??™t take long before I felt at ease. I quickly realized that I had nothing to fear, for these were students and children just like any other class I had taught before. The difference was in their need for my time, patience and understanding which I had no problem providing. Through trial and error and remembering to be flexible we helped each other understand the tasks at hand. That Tuesday was a day in which I feel I learned a much larger lesson than any Math or Science book could have provided. It was a group of 6 students that helped me in a way they will never quite realize, for they taught me the importance of acceptance. I now have the confidence and desire to tackle any challenge that comes my way.
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