Today, I should have been at that horrible 5th grade, but instead I was in special ed in Duanesburg. I suspect that Duanesburg is actually a better school than Guilderland or South Colonie, in spite of being very rural.
When I was in fourth grade, I had a terrific teacher. I liked to write stories and she was always very encouraging and had nothing but wonderful things to say about me. Years later, I found out that my dyslexic friend had the same teacher, and this "terrific teacher" told her that she'd never even graduate from high school. (This friend in question did in fact graduate from high school, and college.)
I was always a little worried that I would be one of those teachers who was better with the gifted kids than those who needed more help, but I've had a lot of chances to prove those worries wrong. I generally feel like I am the wrong personality type to be a teacher, but I also think my personality works really well with kids who are struggling. In teacher school, they always tell you to put yourself in the kids' shoes and imagine what it was like when things were hard for you in school. First of all, I don't really remember learning how to read. I know I taught myself how in pre-school, and that I was always one of the best readers in the class. Things were never hard for me in school, which is where part of my concerns about working with slow learners came into play. However, I am capable of being one of the most ridiculously patient people I know, which helps when you are working with dyslexic kids. In between classes, I was reading up on dyslexia, and what I read really made me think and wish I had taken more special ed courses in school.
I was reading research that said that dyslexia (which is a genetic condition) causes people to process language with the wrong part of their brains. (I use the word wrong, not different, because this way is clearly less effective.) People with dyslexia don't recognize sight words, which is something I really noticed today. They also have a tendency to fill in sentences with different words that would also make sense, which is something else I noticed. And dyslexic people don't have below average IQs...which is something I already knew, and noticed again today. I dictated a physics test to one group of kids, and I think that some of these 4th graders (who wrote like 1st graders) probably still got a hundred on the test.
For one class period, the regular special ed teacher was in the room working on paperwork but she had me do the lesson. After the lesson, the teacher told me I did a great job and that she would like to have me come in if she's ever out. Now...one of the things about being a sub is that you never get feedback from adults, positive or negative, and this complement was a nice contrast to the horrible days I had last week. It absolutely made my day. Also, for reasons that I went to earlier, it always comes as a bigger boost for me to know that I did a good job with kids who are not natural good learners.
Also, I was doing both push out and pull in for kindergarten. When I was pushing in (special ed teacher is in the room with the regular teacher), the Kindergarten teacher asked if any of the kids knew me, and one of the kids I had earlier in the day got a big grin on his face. He was so happy to see me. And another girl drew me a picture. :)
I guess I really needed a day when I felt happy to be teaching.