So I felt I learned more from the students today than I taught them. This is partially due to the fact that I was subbing in a life skills class, so the goals for the students were very basic (such as responding via a recorded message board and reaching for the items they wanted). But I feel as if I came out of there knowing much more about students with disabilities.
Don't get me wrong, I have worked with students with disabilities in the past and nannied for some children with disabilities, but only one of those children was on the same level of extremity as these children. I learned about "talkers" today-a nifty tool that allows you to record phrases for nonverbal students to use to communicate. I learned a lot about how important it is to encourage students, even in the littlest things (such as eating lunch and wheeling oneself down the hallway without assistance) and how rewarding it is to see the smile of a student who doesn't speak, but is proud of herself for her accomplishments. I learned how some "regular education" students have a wonderful ability to show kindness and compassion to those less fortunate and the cruelty others display. It has been awhile since I was in high school, so I also rediscovered how strong cliques and social groups are to adolescents.
I love that each day I spend in the presence of children how I learn new things, how I am challenged to show patience even in difficult situations, how the teacher in me shines out, and how great my desire to help others learn becomes. How, even though I may be in charge, I am at the mercy of others, aides, students' moods, resources, helpful (hopefully) staff; and these all make me a better teacher and person.