Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Why I Love My Job (And How I Know I'm Doing the Right Thing)

It was springtime in 2010 when I made the decision to pursue a career in Special Education.  Little did I know how much my life would change in the course of two years.  Believe it or not, lots of people tried to discourage me from pursuing this vocation.  I heard numerous times that Special Education is "too hard", "it takes a special person to do that kind of work", "it's too much paperwork", you name it.  I was surprised by how many times I was told me how bad it would be, even though the persons telling me this had not worked in Special Education.  For myself, I knew that God had called me to work with children.  More to the point, God had called me to work with children with special needs.  I took a break from my profession to be a stay-at-home mom, but not from my calling. 

Has it been easy?  No, of course not.  It's been tough.  Some days are harder than others.  But every day, I love my job.  Every single day.  Even when I'm challenged by it. Even when I'm unsure where I'll be next year--whether or not I'll be a lead teacher with my own classroom.  Days like today make me glad that I stepped out in faith and took chances.  I'm glad I didn't let the discouragement of others deter me.

Today, remarkable things happened at school.  Little things.  Special things.  I mentor a little girl who is lacking in confidence.  She was so shy when I first met her, but I bought a journal and some glitter pens and I write to her a few times a week.  I leave the journal on her desk when she arrives at school, and she writes back to me.  I saw her after school as she was preparing to leave with friends.  Her friend's arm is in a cast, and my young mentee saw that it was beginning to rain.  She quickly took off her own jacket to cover her friend's cast so it wouldn't get wet.  What a sweet child!  I wrote to her today that I think she is very kind, and that I'm happy to know her.  It is the little things that a person does that say a lot about their character.  My young friend has a sweet spirit.  She saw a friend's need and sought to help.  I hope to build her up so that she can have confidence in the years ahead.  Life can be tough, and we all need encouragement.  Maybe she'll remember the teacher who told her that she is special because she is a kind person.  I like that I get to be her mentor.  I like that this is something that I get to do--not because I have to as part of my job--but because my taking this job puts me in an environment where I get to help children who need my help.

Sometimes, amidst the challenges of working with children with profound disabilities, I ask the Lord for some encouragement that what I am teaching my students is effective.  Just a small sign that my efforts are not in vain, or that I'm on the right track.  Today, I got that small glimpse.  I can't share details, but suffice it to say that it was one of those small things that revealed that one of our students was fully present and participating in class.  If you work with children with autism, or know someone with autism, then you know what I'm talking about.  Oftentimes, the "scripting" from tv shows and movies, the self-stimulatory behaviors--the quirks that make these kids seem far away--can make it seem like learning is not taking place. Trying to educate a child who may not appear to be benefitting can seem like an exercise in frustration.  I know it's not, but we all have our moments when we just need to know that we are making a difference.  Today, it happened.  And so today, my spirit soared.

I shared this moment with my principal, and she grinned and told me, "Jennifer, hold out for a Special Ed. job.  You're meant to do this."  I just smiled and told her, "Thank you."  I don't know what tomorrow holds.  I do know that right now, in this moment--tired though I may be!--I am happy and satisfied that I am doing the right thing.  God holds the future, and He will continue to guide my path.

Thank You, Lord.

Many blessings,


1 comment:

  1. i am so happy for you. there is not greater place to be that where God can best use you to serve those He loves.
    love you.
    martha :)