"I swear they are going to ask me what I ate for lunch last Tuesday"- this is one of many phrases I have uttered while completing teaching applications. But while these applications are a bit daunting, I keep reminding myself: This is the easy part.
When I first decided I was going to pursue special education, I already had a Virginia Teaching Licence (Pre-K through 6). I had already taken all of the necessary tests and completed my full semester of student teaching. I had also said out loud many of times, "I will never be a teacher!" It was hard! Really hard! Just ask my roommates in college, they can vouch I came home almost every Friday in tears. Teaching on any level is not a walk in the park. When I tell people I am pursuing special education I usually get a mix of different responses. It's to the point now I feel like I should add a disclaimer: "I am pursuing special education and YES I know it is going to be very challenging."
This mix of responses threw me off guard at first. Most of them positive. Especially from individuals who know me the best. But every now and then there is a comment that makes me want to cringe. Such as:
"I hope you like data and writing."
Response: Yes, actually I do.
"If you couldn't handle regular kids, what makes you think you could handle those kids."
Honest response: I prefer those kids.
"That county doesn't pay very well. Not for what you will be doing."
My best response to date: WAIT. WHAT? I thought teaching was about the money and the glamour?" I'm usually not quick enough for sarcasm but I've got a few zingers.
Yes, those are actual responses from real, live people. And talking to some of my classmates and professors, there have been worse.
I know what I am getting myself in to. I went through the majority of my life thinking I was going to be a Kindergarten teacher. Once I was fully licensed to become one, I decided that was one thing I would not do. I went in to that experience with Rose colored glasses. Life lesson: teaching kindergarten is not singing, dancing, and have a bunch of little friends that will automatically respect you. Four years of college and countless dollar amounts later- I wanted to be positive this time around. After volunteering with adults with disabilities, subbing in classrooms for individuals with special needs, and talking with others in the field, I know what I am meant to do.
Looking back, some of the faults I had in a general education setting are actually great qualities for a special education teacher. For example, "Too patient" (Yes- this was on one of my evaluations). I think that is a wonderful trait that is only going to help me in this field. That's just my opinion.
I also believe it is a "heart thing". This field is a calling. I feel like I have been led to working with this population and it's something that I cannot explain. I've started the summer semester this week and on our class forum some of my classmates have expressed the same feeling. It's good to know I am not alone.
I know this is going to be hard. I know this is going to challenge me physically, mentally, and emotionally. But when you feel that swell in your heart of happiness that you're doing the right thing, you should run towards that thing with all you have. No salary could ever replace that for me. Applications are the easy part. Teaching will be hard.
Suprisingly enough, it's not about the money and the glamour. Because nothing accessorizes a pair of J Crew pants like someone's lunch. And there is no better embellishment to my hair than a cherry from someone's fruit cup.
May sunbeams find you!