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I've been working now as a special education paraprofessional (para for short) for a full school year. I love my job. It's the best I've ever had and it works well for my schedule with my son and husband. If I need to leave, my teacher is very understanding. But. There's always a downside to what it's like to be in this type of profession.
I've been working with an individual, let's call him Mark, who can't read much and has a very hard time speaking clearly and getting people to understand what he's trying to say. What's even more frustrating is that he doesn't retain much either. For instance, he's a second grader and we've worked and worked and WORKED with the letter P and how it sounds and if we come upon for, say, his spelling test, nothing. It's like the sound has been completely erased from his memory. It's frustrating to say the least. Apologies if I reiterate how frustrating it is. But there's other words I'd like to use, but in a public forum, it would be frowned upon.
Now I've been mostly ranting but that's not all this job has to offer. Being a SPED para is actually very rewarding. It's also inspired me to go back to college and hopefully start a career. I'm not sure that special education is the route I'll take, but I think that maybe education will be in my future. Children can be so, so trying but then again they aren't breezing by either; there's just as much frustration for them as it is for us para educators.
With all the trouble and turmoil it seems that can be brought to the table with these kids, there is much to be excited about and rewarding. Watching their faces light up when they learn something new and master it; that has to be one of my favorite things to see. It really warms my heart. Or when a child tells you thank you for teaching them something new; or when they come to school and tell you how they incorporated it into their home life. With home life, sometimes that can be difficult and affect children heavily. In a previous profession, I worked with kids in foster care placement, but it was a facility where the kids lived and went to school. Working with who I work with now is easier in some ways and challenging in others. For me, these children are relying on you to teach them what teachers don't always have time to do.
Teachers can also be so incredibly frustrating as well. The regular room teachers don't always quite understand what we, as paras and special education teachers, have to do in order for our children to understand. Communication is truly key! Even if you have to cross lines and boundaries you aren't always comfortable with crossing, that's just what you have to do for these kids. I personally have no issue making a statement for my child to succeed in the area we are working on; I've made people (teachers especially) upset with how I go about things because I for one know exactly what my child needs and how far I can push him or her to get where they need to be.
Overall, I just want my kids I get to work with to understand that we don't want them to fail. I just hope that we can pave the way for these kids and get them to know and understand that we just want them to excel and succeed, even if we have to do it with gritted teeth.