Your first day anywhere can be nerve racking. Adam shares with us his first day in a Special Education School and how he found the experience.
As a supply teacher we've all been there, that 7:30am phone call asking if we're available for work that day. Sometimes it's straight forward, a school or even a class you've done before, sometimes it's a bit more tricky, a key stage you've not taught before in an area you don't know, and sometimes it's done right daunting. I had one such experience several months ago when the school in question was a Special education school.
A wave of panic rushed over me, I'd never taught in a special school before and my only experience of working with children with Special needs was in mainstream classes where the child would usually have a 1:1 working them. I eventually pulled myself together and started the drive to the school. On the way in I had thoughts about everything I couldn't do, what kind of special needs would I be faced with? What would the learning environment be like? What age would I be teaching? Would the children be safe with me? Would I be safe with the children??
As I pulled up to the school I was greeted by the head who asked if I had experience with special needs children and quickly assured me that I 'would be fine' and there was 'nothing to worry about' but I was feeling anything but!
I was told I would be teaching key stage 1 (classes are split by key stages rather than year groups as the teaching can be better tailored to a wider range of abilities). As the children began to filter in, accompanied by their drivers and parents, I tried my best to hide my anxious thoughts and feelings, although I'm sure a few beads of sweat were noticeable.
The whole class arrived by around 9:30 (a total of 8). There were children with autism, global developmental delay, multiple sclerosis, down syndrome and a number of different behavioural problems. Contrary to my predications, as the day went on my stress levels went down. The children were inquisitive, expressive, friendly, kind, unique and passionate. There were times that left me wide mouthed and slightly shell shocked, mostly during dinner where the number of staff and noise level for around 40 children was other worldly.
As the day came to an end I said my goodbyes and thanked the TA's (who were invaluable!). I can honestly say it was one of the best experiences of my teaching career so far, so much so that I spent a half term working in that school and now go back quite regularly on supply there. I hope anyone reading this will to consider working at a special school and allow the kindness and passion of the children their to reignite their love of teaching.