I have been on the substitute instructional aide (a.k.a. yard duty, classroom aide) list for our district for only a few weeks, but I've gotten a couple days of work in each week already so it's working out pretty well.
The only jobs that have been available have been in the special ed classrooms (there's a preschool and elementary level class) so that's where I've been helping out.
Many of the kids are pretty low-functioning (as they like to call it), meaning they don't verbalize much if at all, and they are mostly in their own little worlds and it's hard to draw them out. Such is the case with little Benji who has Down Syndrome.
I accompanied Benji to the bathroom yesterday and as he finished up and washed his hands we exited and the teacher asked if I had filled out the log for him (they keep track of each time he goes and such). Well I hadn't, so I walked back in the very large bathroom to the far end where the log was and began to write.
About this time Benji turns the lights out. I say, "Benji I need the lights on." and walk back to where he is at the door. He turns them back on. Cool. I go back to the log. The lights go out. Again I say, "Benji I need the lights on." but this time I hear a giggle. From Benji. I'm thrilled; he's playing a joke on me. Wow! So back I go again and he turns the lights on.
Well, we do this 4 or 5 times before I can get this darned log filled out, but the more he giggles the more I'm loving it. Finally he's actually interacting with me and I've never heard him laugh! I could seriously do this all day. It was so sweet and I was getting such a kick out of him. The teacher thought it was pretty cute too.
We also went to the school assembly and one of the boys was getting a Student of the Month award. It was so hard for him to wait. He's one who has a hard time controlling himself and also blurts words. The teacher told him to squeeze her hand if he felt he needed to talk (rather than blurting) and I saw he was giving her hand a workout the entire time. Finally his name was called and he walked up to get his award with the biggest smile on his face. I barely know this kid and I had tears in my eyes I was so proud of him.
These little guys have such a tough road, but they are such a pleasure to work with. They don't realize how they have touched my heart just in their daily accomplishments. The special ed kids are special indeed. (Can you tell I'm attached to them all already?)