Monday, January 24, 2011

Don't Judge a Book by its Cover...

After a week (really more like 2 days...) at my newest placement, I have already learned SO much. It amazes me how many aspects of Special Education there are. In my last placement, most of my students were MID (Mild Intellectual Disability) or MOID (Moderate Intellectual Disability)..and honestly didnt have a clue as to what was going on in the "real world." Their favorite tv shows (remember these are highschoolers...) were Dora the Explorer, all the shows on the Disney channel, and they loved Buzz Lightyear, Tinkerbell, etc. Then again, who doesnt love Buzz & Tink? Invalid point I suppose...

I digress. My new placement is the complete. opposite. (extra period for emphasis) And I cant lie...after my first day, I called my mom wanting to cry because I was so terrified and upset because I knew I would have to suck it up and be at placement every Tuesday and Thursday for the next 6 weeks. Somehow I held back the water works. Now, I dont know if it was that the kids were just having a "bad day" or if it was their way of testing me by way of extreme intimidation (at least, it was intimidation in my 'suburban, manicured lawn, clean house, a few nice things here and there' way of viewing life) but I was skraight..oh, sorry, STRAIGHT, petrified after my first day.

After I walked into the classroom, set my pink travel coffee mug, purse, and "teacher bag" down, I began to hear a very high pitched beeping noise every few seconds that sounded like it was coming from the hallway. I brushed it off and walked around the room looking at the kids work on the walls, trying to talk to my host teacher (not much of a talker), and eventually peered out into the hallway just to check it out, as it continued to beep constantly. Um. It was a metal detector. Also known as a "Wand". That the principal was using on the kids. Growing up I had always heard about some schools on the South side of my county that had to have mesh or clear backpacks and metal detectors at the doors. I guess I neeeeeever imagined myself actually being in one of these schools as a student, much less a TEACHER. Culture shock numero uno.

After getting past the difficulty I have understanding most of the kids, it became pretty obvious that the teachers pick their battles, and that dropping the "F bomb" and every other cuss word in the English spoken language is not one of those battles. Ummm. In high school, my classmates and I were lucky if a teacher looked past "hell" being said. Among the cussing were stories of "quitting smoking" (pretty sure they werent talking about cigarettes as one student, a 13 year old, has a possession of marry-j-wanna under their belt.) Another thing I noticed was a student drawing gang-related words and symbols. Sweet.

Another side note, these kids are known to get so emotionally frustrated, that they will bolt out of the building. This occurred on my first day, but luckily not with one of my students. We saw the little girl's head bob past the window of our classroom as she ran one way, then saw it again when she ran back - later, on the walkie talkie, (main method of communication throughout the school for safety purposes, I believe) I heard "we have lost sight of her." Ooookay then. I later learned that the student had made it to a liquor store before the faculty could catch up with her, which requires crossing a VERY busy street and running a pretty far distance.

After alllllllllllll of this happening on the first day, I left after my second day there absolutely LOVING these kids and this placement. I think the fact that I learned to kind of ignore some of their...tendencies, just as the host teachers do, and accept that said tendencies are part of their lives, whether they OR myself like it or not, helped me to just have fun and enjoy the new experience. Hence the old adage and title "dont judge a book by its cover." Not to mention one of the boys told me he liked me, that I was "skraight & cool", and that I'd better hope they dont get attached to me. I'll take it.


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