I guess it’s a reasonable question. I get asked it all the time. Why teach? Why special education? It is my job! I love my job!
Several years ago, one of my former elementary teachers asked why did I decide to work with students with severe disabilities. He said, “They do not make progress. It is babysitting.” No, I did not throat punch him. I may have wanted to but didn’t. I explained to him how progress was made. How kiddos with severe needs deserved the best instruction to help them meet their potential. We discussed this for several minutes. He still didn’t get it. That conversation was held while I was working on my Bachelors. I have spoke to him multiple times since then. I believe/hope he has since grown in his way of thinking.
For some reason, my career choice confuses people. I am not sure what is so difficult. It is an awesome job! How many people can change the world one person at a time? How many people get to observe a huge success such as a student finding consistent communication? Or, the smaller success like turning on the bathroom light independently. Why do I teach Special Education?
I have decided to put together my list of responses to the ‘Why teach?’ question.
1. My students understand me! One of my boys knows me well! This is my favorite candy. It was my gift from a student. As he entered my classroom, I heard him say “Where is my favorite teacher?” That statement is more than enough to explain why I teach. I teach for him.
2. This text was from a former student. She graduated several years ago. I really do not need to say anything else. The text says it all! I teach for her.
3. We make so much progress every day and have fun while doing it! We do so much more than academics and the standards. We learn new ways to interact. We work on social skills and even learn about technology. I teach for him!
4. “They treat us like kings and queens.” I have heard this statement many times from one of my Special Olympic ball players. Whenever he is talking about our basketball trips, that is his phrase he tells to all the new players. He has even told it to some of his other teachers. I teach for him.
5. I can tell them I love them and see their whole view point on the days activities change. Letting students know I love and appreciate them makes their day so brighter. They thrive on this type of attention. I teach for her.
6. Students and teachers showing an understanding and acceptance of those with disabilities, while trying to teach others. I teach for him. I teach for her. I teach for them. I teach for me!
Why teach? How could I not?!