Tuesday, March 7, 2017

What a Day

You know when you have one of those days that just can't end fast enough?

The other day I subbed in a Special Ed class. These were low functioning students.

I have so much respect for the teachers and Instructional Assistants who work with these same kids day after day after day. After a couple hours I was mentally fried, and I had several hours left of my day.

In the course of one day I saw:

-One student who has down syndrome and can barely communicate (used a bit of sign language), spent at least a half an hour piling raisins into a water cup, eventually dumping the whole cup into a sink, clogging it. She also started her period and had to communicate that to the male IA.

-A set of twins who mostly yelled and roared at people. Literally. They hit themselves and took long naps on the bean bag chairs. One loved to run to the freezer, open it, and pick at the freeze-dried ice. They couldn't speak but seemed to understand and respond to instructions.

-There was a boy who couldn't be trusted to not run off so an IA had to be constantly positioned behind him in a chair. Several times he got away and more than one IA was needed to physically block him and "guide" him back to his chair.

-There was the boy who everyone seemed a little relieved to be absent, and then he showed up. He spent a chunk of time on his Ipad. Then he had tantrums that were so intense I was afraid for my safety a couple times. He pulled a drawer out of a cupboard and tried to throw it across the room. He had a pair of headphones and swung the cord around several times, nearly hitting several people. He cussed and yelled and tore up papers. He almost pushed over a table, but an IA was one step ahead of him. This kid had to be physically blocked a few times too. He also escaped out the door once. During Reading class he had a tantrum because the topic was whales. And he hates whales because they hit him in the head. This kid could communicate verbally, but he threw incredible fits.

-Then there was the kid who came back from lunch not liking the options, and went on a rampage. He pulled over a large bookshelf. He tore open cupboards above a stove, looking for food. He found a bag of marshmallows, ripped them open, and started chowing on them. The IAs just stood there, watching him, giving him space. They usually set a timer for 5 minutes while these tantrums happen, to give him time to cool down. I guess we were close to a "Room Clear," which I assumed meant he reaches a level no longer safe for the room. They didn't quite explain it, but we skirted around it after he found the marshmallows.

Did I mention there were like 5 adults for 10-15 kids, and it never felt like enough adults? When almost every kid needed such direct one on one attention, the few kids who didn't need that were basically on their own.

I have never looked at the clock so many times in a day as a substitute. I kept watching these staff in awe. Their patience and positive attitudes were impressive.

Towards the end of the day, one student refused to put his math book away, and the IAs wouldn't let him leave until he did it. (This reminded me of dealing with my own toddler in so many ways, but this kid was bigger and much, much stronger than me). At one point, three IAs were blocking the door as he tried to push his way out the door. He grabbed my arm to pull me towards him, and locked onto my sweater. It took 2 other IAs and several minutes to get this kid to let go of my sweater. It was intense.

Needless to say, I was relieved when the day was finally over. The IAs told me this was a tame day for them. Oh my word. I have no idea how they do it. One IA told me she goes home and just tries not to think about work the rest of the day. No kidding. These people do not get paid enough.

After work I headed to see our new townhouse in person, and to meet with the inspector. (We loved the townhouse, by the way! Our realtor did great checking it out for us.)

It had been a rough, tiring day.

The inspection went well, and my girls were with me as we were leaving. I piled the three into the van, backed out of the driveway, and bumped into my realtor with my van!

Not only was I tired, but now I was crying and embarrassed. Luckily, she was more than gracious and I don't think I did any actual damage to her vehicle.


As a side note, I don't know what's going to happen with education, but I know this week a bill was introduced by three Republicans which would, in effect, drastically reduce funding for students just like these ones. It's reprehensible.

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