A Teacher, officially.
On the bright side I can really see myself shaping into a teacher and authority figure. The confrontation in the classroom really forged an authoritarian I didn’t think I was…and I’m glad I have that in me. I also feel like I’m building up my readiness, mentally standing on the balls of my feet and preparing to pounce on a perpetrator…er…student.
And the exceptionally good news is that I’ve been interviewed and offered a job at the field site I’ve currently been working at. After weeks of my dropping less-than-obvious hints about my desire to work in the school, and damn near begging the assistant principal to hire me I was finally scooped up. And I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that all the other fellows assigned to PS 371 Lillian l. Rashkis all called in “sick.”
It’s not a very cushy position, they warned me. (My initial reaction was to ask if there were any cushy jobs as far as special education students were concerned, but wisely kept my yap shut.) The school is the same, but it’s in a different location, and while it’s right next to the first school the building was converted from offices and the classrooms are very tiny, and there’s neither a gym nor a crisis room. (For those of you who don’t know what a crisis room is…it’s where you send violent, crazed students where they can’t harm anyone. Many crisis rooms are padded.) I’ll be teaching alternate assessment students ages 14 to 21 years old and I’ll be accompanying them on vocational training once or twice a week.
Now, when you’re talking about special education students there are two types: Standard assessment and alternate assessment. Standard assessment students are responsible for taking the same standardized tests that normal, general education kids have to take…they only are placed in 12 to 1 to 1 classes in order to give them the extra supervision and help they may need, whether they are learning disabled or emotionally disturbed. Standard students have the cognitive ability to be tested on that level, despite setbacks.
Alternate assessment students do not have any standardized testing. Instead they have to complete data-folios which they hand in for a special education diploma. This means the students do not have to follow a strict curriculum in the classroom, rather the teacher comes up with (On the fly, I guess) lesson plans on daily living skills and the general aspects of life the educator thinks students may need. The assistant principal who interviewed me gave the example that I won’t be teaching my class about the Bill of Rights or Constitution, more like I’ll be teaching them the fact that they have rights. Simplification, getting them ready for the vocational tract so they can at least get a job. Or, at least that’s the idea.
So, let’s recap: I have a job, but it’s in a claustrophobic classroom. I have a class, but I have no curriculum to guide my teaching. I’m going to keep a smile on my face, because I haven’t even seen the classroom yet, and there are rumors of a rec room in the basement…and I maybe if I’m lucky the previous teacher who is taking off with little warning will leave me some idea about what I’m supposed to be teaching.
But on the bright side...I'm not just a Teaching Fellow now! I'm a teacher! Officially! Hired and ready to put up some bulletin boards!