I have 3 little children. My children are currently 2, 3 and 7 years of age. My younger two children are pretty independent but dependent in specific areas. My oldest 7 year old is quite independent but could be needy as any child is. They all have different personalities and characteristics that make them unique and who they are! Even though each of my children has their own needs and personalities, they all enjoy playing with each other. They all like music and dancing, playing games and have books read to them. They all like to cuddle, they all like praise and they like to record themselves and watch themselves on the videos of the phone or iPad. Each day as they grow, I observe their personalities grow, their smile and laugh, their tantrums and sad moments. I observe them playing independently and with each other. There are moments I am stressed, tired and overwhelmed but there are so much more moments where I just watch, soak it in and smile. As I smile, I think of how fast time flew as they grow up.
In the 13 years that I have been teaching students with severe special needs from the ages of 11-15 (down syndrome, cerebral palsy, developmental delay, etc.), I am fortunate to have been with a variety of students all of whom are unique individuals. Since the classrooms are formatted so that I have the students from the 6-8 grade, I have the students for 3 years. During these three years, I am able to see progress. Like my children, I shared moments with my students and observed anxiety, frustration and discomfort but I also shared moments of joy, pride, happiness and excitement. I witnessed some students identify colors and letters in the eighth grade but could not in the sixth, write their names in the 8th but could not in the 6th, ask for preference by pointing to pictures in the 8th but did not in the 6th. So much can happen in three years, whether the progress is slow or not, there is progress. There is a sense of accomplishment.
For my children and students, I have expectations. Whether the expectations are high or low, having expectations is important during the individual’s growth. I have respect for my children and students as they are each unique having their own unique needs. I am motivated by my children and students to be the best mother and teacher as I see each individual grow personally and physically. I have goals and hopes for my children and students… all different but nevertheless, I strive to see those goals accomplished. I am inspired and touched by my children and students as I witness moments of pride, happiness, growth, maturation, etc. I am determined to have them feel safe, secure and comfortable in the appropriate settings. Finally, I continue to be optimistic even when I am challenged in all aspects of life at home and in school. Being optimistic is so important as a role model and an authority figure. It creates a positive energy all around and it could be so contagious!