Now that I am entering the last year of my graduate program, I have found myself reflecting on how much I have changed over the past couple of years. I have always had the desire to help others, however, now I actually feel like I have the tools to help others effectively. The classes I have taken thus far have caused me to work on many of my own issues and I know that I have become a better person for it. I feel much more well-rounded and patient than I was before I started the program. Instead of getting frustrated with the actions of others, I find myself trying to understand the motivations behind their actions. Because I have a better understanding of others; I am better able to learn from others.
This is my first year at The Community School and in this short period of time, I have learned so much! I realized very early into this experience that I had to let go of the way I had previously been taught to work with kids. I was a Special Education teacher for four years in public schools. I enjoyed the experience of working with the kids, but I often found myself feeling more like a social worker than a teacher. We were constantly bogged down with paperwork and meetings and it took away from my ability to make real progress with the students. There was a greater emphasis on classroom management than figuring out the needs of each particular student.
When I arrived at The Community School, it seemed like the ideal situation for a teacher. The emphasis here is on making a connection with the students and using that connection to make progress towards reaching that particular student’s goals. There is very little paperwork here which allows the teacher to be free to spend their time coming up with new ideas for the classroom. I have also learned a great deal about Autism Spectrum Disorders. I had the opportunity to work with children identified as having Autism in the past, but I was never really able to have very many opportunities to work with them one-on-one. Now that I have that opportunity, many of the behaviors and issues that came up with my students in the past, is starting to make more sense to me now.
I am now able to see why the traditional public school setting was a problem for many of the students I had in the past. I find myself thinking that so many of the students I worked with before would have benefitted so much from a program like The Community School. I am glad to be here and I have learned so much about different techniques I could use to work with young people and adults. I look forward to learning more about how to become a better counselor for young people everywhere.