Yes, I do refer to them as "my sweet boys" ... It makes them smile and sadly it might be the only positive verbal love they hear for the remainder of the day. Some of them do not have the loving and supportive home like I grew up in.
Some of them carry a lot of anxiety.
Some of them are afraid of other students.
Some of them need more positive reinforcement more often than others.
All of them need love.
I always seem to amaze myself when I come to this conclusion (you would think that after the first few times, I would catch on....nope, still amazes me) concerning myself and teaching.
I'm not like a lot of teachers. Somedays that's a good thing and somedays it's not. I'm fairly simple (though I can be terribly confusing) in how I view the world and the humans that live on it. I have come to the simple conclusion that all anybody really needs is someone to love them. Not just provide for them physically and/or emotionally....but to truly love them. To be amazed at the things they do week....to provide structure, consequences, and rewards consistently...to be patient with them when they mess up...to hang their artwork on the wall....even if its not the nicest!
Last year my partner teacher was frequently concerned about my attachment to my students. Some days he warned me that I would burn out very quickly or wouldn't be able to move on at the end of the year. I fought him on this because I kept telling him that the attachment and concern I had for my students kept me going and made me work harder to be a good teacher. He was partially right and I was mostly wrong....about one thing. I couldn't move on. I struggled through our move and the entire summer with letting go of my 5th graders. I wasn't planning on not being there this year when I sent them home for the summer. Even when I started the sub position at the autism academy, I still fought it. I didn't belong here. My kids were back there. What my partner teacher probably didn't realize was that he was preparing me more for my own classroom now than he was in dealing with my classroom then. I will always care for my students, but I understand the importance of having some detachment. K wouldn't survive if I couldn't detach myself from him. I am capable of teaching my six sweet 15 year old boys with autism because of the classroom management he taught me how to use consistently. And because for so many months he showed me how to balance caring for my students but not carrying their burdens. He taught me how to be strong for my kids when they needed me to be able to hold it together. Sure, some nights I bring school home...who doesn't? But most nights I can let my frustration at school.
Today I realized this again. We were in the middle of meltdown #2 of the day, and I was verbal to K and three adults were holding him. Once he started to calm, I had to count to 100...out loud...sheesh, it's a long way from 1 to 100 .... But in the middle of it, thinking back to the mean things K screamed at me in the middle of his anger, and the spit he spewed that was running down my neck, and the bruise that was certain to appear on my leg from him kicking, I realized that I found that balance. I can keep my voice calm for him because he needs me to be calm. I can keep my touch gentle because he needs to feel something kind. I don't take his mean comments personally because I know when he's finished being angry he'll say he's sorry. I can let go of the morning tantrum so that when the second one comes, I can be strong for him again.....now by the time the 4th one was over, I was out of patience.
I savor the moments when one of them smiles. Ja smiles when I call him my sweet boy. Je loves to have his hands tickled. To really enjoys helping me and is always offering to organize my messy table! Ty just wants one of us to listen to him....and let him make copies...he enjoys tasks and making copies is one of his favorites! M just wants individual attention. K loves cookies and playing tic-tax-toe....See, even when they throw fits; hit; spit; kick; say mean things; and flat out disobey me....I can still love them through it. Not by giving into them but by teaching them how to become better at using coping skills and making better choices.
I am thankful that God created me to be a teacher. He made me in such a way that I can love these sweet boys and take on their tantrums. He gave me a great partner teacher that I could lead from so that I would be ready for these boys at this time. I don't know how long they will be mine. I don't know how many tantrums I really have the strength to weather, but I know that God has been gracious and faithful in providing me with just the right amount of patience and love for each day. Very much like the manna, He gives me what I need for each day.
And through it all, start to finish, we all just need a little bit of love. See, love covers a multitude of things.
Tomorrow I have a day off. I plan on sleeping and enjoying a few hours with my beautiful sister. I am thankful for the supportive staff that was encouraging me to take the day to rest. They have been a big help in teaching me how to work with K. I am thankful that every morning we gather as a staff of people and pray for patience and strength. We pray for safety and health for our kids & staff and we pray that in their most horrid fits, we are able to remain calm and compassionate. Tomorrow I will rest and be ready to finish the week out with my sweet boys! Field trip on Friday...we're going bowling!!
Do you have any stories? I love stories!