When I was offered my current job, I was given the choice of two positions. One was a permanent, mainly co-teaching position. The other one, the one they really wanted me to take, was the self-contained autism spectrum disorders teacher, a new position that was only guaranteed for two years because it was funded by economic stimulus dollars.
Being the crazy idealist that I am, I took the ASD teaching position because I truly felt (and continue to feel) that was what God wanted for me. Do I ever regret not taking the other position? Nope. Not even a little bit. I have had such a blast these past two school years, I wouldn’t trade it for the added security.
Also—not that I am even close to being the world’s best teacher—I think I am who my students needed. Our personalities just mesh. We like each other. Rarely a day goes by that I don’t have at least one episode of laugh-until-I-cry over something hilarious one of my students says, or an oh-my-gosh-they-are-SO-smart moment when I am just blown away by their deeply intelligent thoughts and questions. We’re just a match made in heaven.
But now there’s a chance we’ll have to break up. It makes me sad not just for myself, but for my students. I really do love these guys. Who’s going to take care of them next year if there’s no one in my position? Who will advocate for them to get what they need? Who will make sure their accommodations are being carried out and working for them in the general ed classrooms? Who will be their soft place to land when they need it, and who will push them out of the nest when that’s what they need? I want it to be me, darn it!
People ask me every day if I’ve heard whether I have a job next year. I’ve decided to stop worrying about it. Do I check the job listings in neighboring districts? Yes, and it makes me sad. I feel I am where I belong. I don’t want to start over somewhere else.
When I was offered this job, I considered the risks, prayed about it, and made the decision I knew I was supposed to make. If this is the end of my program, I will walk away knowing we had an amazing two-year run and that I was able to help my students meet success in many different ways.
I have to sum up my feelings with something I read the other day. I heard it in my Dave Ramsey class; the original author is Dean Alfange. It says (abridged):
It is my right to be uncommon if I can. I seek opportunity—not security. I want to take the calculated risk, to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. It is my heritage to . . . enjoy the benefit of my creations and to face the world boldly and say, “This I have done with my own hand. . . .”
I hope I have the opportunity to continue to dream and to build this awesome program for my students next year, and for many years to come.