Ever since 8th grade, I have wanted to become a special education teacher. I can remember the moment I first stepped foot in a special education classroom. The student I worked with was blind and I was trying to help her identify the location of a sound by throwing a bean bag into a hula hoop by listening for the sound of a bell. I was so intrigued. I left with a sense of satisfaction and thrill.
As years passed, I went to college to pursue this field. Unfortunately…I realized it wasn’t all cheerful bells and whistles. The broad field of special education was not for me.
While completing some required hours in a special education classroom, I was introduced to someone who would guide me in the right direction. She was working with one of the students who had a visual impairment. She told me all about her job, how she traveled school to school working with students who were visually impaired. Instantly, I was sold.
I then pursued a Masters degree in teaching the blind and visually impaired at The University of Arizona. I am now in my 3rd year of teaching the blind.
This career, with its ups and downs (just like every job), can be rewarding, challenging, and can seriously test my patience. But my students – they’re rock stars. They’ve taught me that being different is special. I know my students have a difficult time with social skills and I challenge them to step out of their comfort zones everyday. But really, I think it’s the “typical” people that need to step out of their comfort zones and get to know someone who is “different”.
All my students have such a positive outlook on their lives, when everyone else seems to misunderstand them and look at them with pity. They have goals and dreams for their futures, when others think they’re going no where. I can understand why people think this way because my students are missing out on seeing this beautiful world. But, the world they see is just as beautiful to them.
So I encourage you, if you’ve never worked with someone who has special needs, go make it a goal of yours to do so. It can be something so little, like helping a lady who is blind at a grocery store or go big and volunteer at the Special Olympics.
Even Ricky Martin says, “Of all of my accomplishments, the things I’ve found most fulfilling have been the opportunities I’ve had to lend a hand to someone in need.” …Even above livin’ la vida loca and shakin’ his bon bon!!
I hope you come back here and share your thoughts and experiences!
To read more of the “What Life has Taught Me” Series – click here!