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Career Story: Special Education Assistant In An Elementary School

Special Education Assistant In An Elementary School

Job Title: Teacher's Aide

Type of Company: I work for a school district in suburban Boston.

Education: BS, English, Northeastern University

Previous Experience: I started as a secretary at a large insurance company then moved to a large hospital. I stayed home with my children for many years before becoming an aide.

Job Tasks: I work with one particular child who has developmental disabilities and learning issues as well as ADHD. This child needs constant redirection to get his work done because he's easily distracted by other classroom activities. He sometimes needs to take a break from the classroom and I take him for a walk down the hall or for a motor break to allow him to let off some steam. I must re-explain all the directions the classroom teacher presents to the class as he often cannot understand whole class instruction; either he is too distracted or it was presented too quickly for him to understand. I have to direct his behavior as well, since he tends to get too "hands-on" for other students. His social skills are improving, however. He repeated a year in school and is more than a year older than many of the other children. This is a perfect position for me as I have a lot of patience and can get down to this child's level to try to get him to understand academics and social skills. I work 30 hours a week with this boy and have developed a rapport with him so that I "know" what makes him tick.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of this job is watching a child "get" a lesson which he has struggled with previously. His whole face lights up. It makes me think of several ways to get something done trying to get him to understand.

The worst part of the job is that it can be frustrating sometimes when he is too distracted and unfocused.

Job Tips: Get your teaching degree and learn as much as you can about children with disabilities of all kinds. Don't expect miracles. Kids can only do what they are capable of doing. Sometimes, no matter how much you try, they simply cannot comprehend what it is you want to convey.

Additional Thoughts: I am surprised at how attached I get to this child and how protective I am of him. I wish I had taken some special education classes because I would know of different ways to approach the learning.

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