Special Ed

I’ve been teaching for the past 10 years or so, and I’ve worked with all kinds/ages of kids & adults. Sometimes I think, OK, maybe that’s enough of that, nothing surprises/challenges/phases me anymore. This session, though, I had a class of special education kids who totally inspired me & reminded me of why I love teaching (and how it has nothing to do with me, really). First of all, I’m not one for labels, and “special ed” comes with a connotation I’m not really comfortable with. It’s drama class. We’re doing silly, manic things. We should all be considered special ed. I actually said, “We’ll have the aliens move the spaceship offstage” today to my co-teacher with a straight face. There’s nothing normal about it.

There’s one student in particular who has totally brightened my days ever since he introduced himself (always overly loud & always first and last name). The only special need I could detect was that he could NOT control his laughter. Anyone laughing or me doing anything slightly odd (aka, everything I do) would send him into fits of crazy loud and infectious laughter. He’s got an amazing teacher & and a great classroom aid, so luckily they didn’t try to stifle him too much. But I found it funny we had to teach him how NOT to laugh. What kind of special need is this? Today was our last day together, and we did an adventure that involved a version of the Three Little Pigs. He was in the second group of pigs, and when I asked them to pantomime building the house with sticks–this kid, amidst everyone else hammering sticks into a house–just dances around the stick house like he’s at a club, laughing. It cracked me up. I found myself thinking as we gathered in our warm up circle, “be glad you’re where you’re at.” Teaching is one of the few things I’ve found where I really feel in the moment how lucky I am.

I came home today spent from the day of teaching & trying to manage the rest of my life. I’m not one that usually feels “stressed,” but lately I’ve just felt steps behind where I want to be…constantly. There’s always a phone call I HAVE to make, a workout I missed, a meeting to go to, traffic to drive through, errands to run, sleep lost. It’s everyone’s story, I guess. Life is pretty sweet at the moment: my business is taking off so quickly that I can’t handle the business, some great students at work, a guy I’m dating who I actually like (who makes me laugh!), triathlon season beginning, the friend/family support that’s a constant, good health, solid job, etc. But sweet doesn’t always mean easy, so I’m sucking it up for the moment–giving up my weekends/social life/training time for a bigger dream in the new business (that will hopefully pay off).

Right at this moment when I’m supposed to be finalizing a clue sheet & making a call to a client, I am so glad I landed on this site to reflect on what was awesome about my day. I am so glad I didn’t make myself workout and instead enjoyed an afternoon snack of ice cream and wine. When everything seems to be speeding up around me, I hope I’ll carry the memory of that “special ed” student in my head– the uncontrollable laughter, the dancing, the loud voice, the way he said “ACTION!” with a huge grin on his face every time he walked into drama class. I’m sure he faces crazy struggles in the years to come as he makes his way through the school system and into the adult world. He probably won’t know the awesome impact he has on everyone around him with the pure shot of joy he brings into the room. I’m going to miss seeing his face, that’s for sure.