Friday, April 03, 2009

What I Do

Sometimes I feel like the negative aspects of this job are more apparent to people than the wonderful parts. I certainly understand that routine bumps and bruises (and large missing chunks from my scalp) are awful, especially when you consider the pay. However, I thought I'd give you a little bit of "a day in the life of" so everybody can see a fuller side.

In the morning, I arrive at the beautifully late time of 8:30, about 15 minutes before I have to be here and about 30 minutes before students arrive. I brew and consume my second cup of coffee, say hello to everyone, and gather my students edible reinforcers. Teachers go out and pick up there students straight off the bus, otherwise there's a large chance our students would just sort of sit there or try to run away.
We serve them breakfast, so I place paper towels out and ask them to sign for what they want. Bellies full, I run academic programs, with 3-5 minute breaks every 15-20 minutes or so (sweet, huh?) That describes a smooth morning. During an average morning (rarely smooth) I tickle, hug, trick, chase or use my "teacher voice" to get kids to eat quietly and clean up.

For about a month, I've been in charge of absolutely everything my student uses or learns. I gather and often make his materials by hand and set up his data collection sheets. We swap students throughout the day, but at the beginning and end of the day, he's mine. I calculate and graph his data, interpret it, and decide where his prompt level should be the next day. This can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours. It's a messy affair.

To properly keep my student's attention, I'm constantly "on". After about and hour, it's pretty tiring. I have a break around 11, but I'm rarely hungry so I go on the computer- which is usually occupied by the heroic slugs in the other room. They don't do much, but they're much needed muscle and have saved me from broken limbs or worse several times. They're necessary evils.

Lunch is....nightmarish and usually results in tears for at least one of my 6 kids. Without going into details that would make this day seem much worse than it actually feels to me, I serve and help students eat. I've drawn the line at actually FEEDING a dwarfish nine year old who is often treated like a baby. Sorry parents, Miss Caitlin doesn't play that Gerber game.

I plan and teach arts and crafts and group activities in the afternoon. By that time, I have at least 3 different bodily fluids on my jeans, have wiped a few bottoms, blocked hundreds of self-injurious behaviors, and been hit or kicked at least once or twice (this morning it was a half-hearted kick to my back- don't worry I'm fine and dandy.)

By the end of the day, I'm sweaty, smelly, and hungry, oh so very hungry. I snack on the kids' treats (bad, I know) and sanitize my hands about 20 times per day. By the time I put my student on the bus, I've been smacked, cried on, spit on, and have tickled, laughed with, sung with, restrained, or just plain held a student who needs me to be calm and in control no matter what he does.

I only work 6-7 hours in a day, but I've never felt more exhausted by the time I walk to my car.

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