This year has felt like a never-ending tsunami of paperwork, data collection, meetings, and feelings of being overwhelmed and frustrated. I often find myself getting stressed over getting IEPs completed and done to the very best of my ability, working on transition plans, creating innovative lesson plans, being proactive with my classroom management and addressing student behaviors, and then there is actually getting up and teaching; that I forget to stop and simply enjoy being in the profession that I will call home from here on.
I recently was able to take my class on a field trip to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Historical Site and the CNN studios in Atlanta. For some it was their first field trip, for some the first time in the city, and for others the first time to those locations. I was apprehensive with taking my students into crowded, fast moving places, however, I felt that I would never be able to see how much they have grown with their social skills until I put them in an environment to practice. I was ecstatic at how well behaved they were! They interacted with other guests, employees, actively read (with some assistance) some of the markers and asked questions. They helped each other with the math when ordering their lunches, and would even give their spare change to each other if someone were a few cents short. I am so very proud of their growth!
The following week, we were out of school for mid-winter break and I was able to attend the Georgia CEC conference where I presented a paper on disproportionality in emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) within Georgia. The conference was a great time to fellowship with other educators across the state, to swap stories, to network and learn the latest and greatest that the state has to offer. I really enjoyed being around CEC members of all stages in their career from college undergrads and early teachers to veteran teachers, professors, and state officials. The Executive Director of CEC also attended as our keynote speaker and was an inspiration for everyone, especially the students and new teachers.
Often as a new teacher, and as a veteran teacher I assume, we often forget to lift our heads from our desks, away from our computers and papers and simply enjoy being in the best field there is, special education. As we enter into testing season and for many, IEP season, I challenge you take two days a month to simply enjoy what you do. Take your students outside and do a lesson in the sun, plan a field trip and enjoy some bonding time with your students, visit CEC in Denver in April, or attend a local conference. Those two days will help you push through your paperwork, combat spring fever, and most of all put a smile on your face!