I would tell you all about my bad day and how a particular class period of students made me cry, but I choose not to remember the bad parts of teaching.  Only the good.  So let me tell you a good story.

I've never had any training with Special Education students.  Somehow, though, I'm really good at working with them.  My Grandfather has been a special education teacher for over 40 years.  I guess it's just in my blood.

So I have a class period with several special education students.  I love them so much.  They're such a challenge, but can also be so rewarding.

Let me tell you about *Eric (name changed of course)

*Eric is autistic.  He stays in trouble constantly for not doing work, or just generally misbehaving.  My first day meeting *Eric he tried to convince me he couldn't write.  I knew this wasn't the case, and so I pushed him.  I pushed him as hard as I push all my other students.  *Eric is smart, when he wants to be.  But I made a mistake with *Eric.  My first day working with him, I stood by him as he attempted to do his work, but as I stood by him he absolutely refused to do anything.  I remembered that sometimes Autistic children have random things that make them either angry, or non-responsive.  I had a hint that this might be *Eric's.  So I told him I was going to walk across the classroom, and when I returned I wanted him to have one question answered.  I walked across the classroom to check on other students, and sure enough when I returned he had answered the question.  This began mine and *Eric's game.  Each day I tell him what needs to be done when I return to his desk.  Each day he completes his work.

One day, I was doing demonstrations using little plastic cups.  I had given each table a set of cups to play with.  As I was collecting the cups I noticed a cup missing from *Eric's table.  I asked *Eric if he had seen the cup, but of course he was unresponsive to me.  So I told him if he knew where the cup was, would he please set it on my desk when I walked across the room.  I turned around, and sure enough *Eric jumped up and placed the cup on my desk.

Remembering that day still makes me smile.  As does remembering the look on my mentors face when he asked me why *Eric had jumped up to place a plastic cup on my desk.

*Eric is a challenge, and requires a large amount of time and attention, but I love watching him walk into my classroom everyday though knowing that I have the ability to reach him, and just maybe, make a difference in his life.

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