Paraprofessional, teacher’s assistant, individual aide, classroom aide: These are some the titles of individuals who work in a special education classroom. Being a special education aide can be an extremely rewarding, but also challenging, experience. Every day, we walk into work unsure how the day will go.
Each day, so many questions fill our minds:
I wonder how gym class goes.
Will this student have a meltdown today?
How much time will I spend in BIR?
Were they given dinner last night?
Did that student get a hug goodbye this morning?
Some of these questions are answered the moment the student walks into the building, but some will always remain unanswered.We pray for amazing days that run smoothly, all according to plan, but that doesn’t always happen. Hours may be spent assisting with bathroom needs, classwork, math, and reading lessons. There are sometimes the unexpected meltdowns where we may be yelled or cursed at, kicked, spit on, bitten, or scratched.
But we still manage to do it all with a smile.
Days can be filled with tears or laughter (and of course sometimes tears from laughter.) Unexpected dance parties, sing-a-longs, and silliness occur throughout the day as well. There are celebrations of holidays, birthdays, and getting perfect scores on spelling tests.
But, sometimes, we celebrate the unexpected as well, such as:hearing a student say your name for the very first time, or that student who struggled to read finally recite their first complete sentence.
We make so many impacts on these students lives.
Sometimes, we don’t even realize how much we matter.. Well, at least until:
The “I missed you! ” we hear after being absent the day before.
The smiles that can be seen on the student’s face as we walk throughout the hallways and work in the classrooms.
The handmade portraits that are given to us throughout the year.
The tight hugs that we receive at the end of each day.
And we realize that we may be labeled as a “paraprofessional” or “aide,” but there is so much more than that to our profession. We are teachers, role models, cheerleaders, life-changers, and friends. Is this job so hard some days that we want to give up and never return? Yes, but, each morning we wake up, drive to work, take a deep breath, and walk back into that school building. Why? Because we know that, no matter what kind of day it is, whether there are scratches, bites, or tears, we are making a difference in a student’s life. And that? That is truly the only thing that truly matters.
Featured image by Alexandr Podvalny from Unsplash.