Saturday 3 December 2011

Special Education Matters (SEM)

I could go on for hours and hours about why I want to work in Special Education.... Instead I thought I would provide a copy my of university application supporting statement.

What has motivated me enough to apply for this foundation degree? What has inspired me to reach further and achieve more? The answer to both those questions is simple, a ten year old child. A child with whom I have been working closely with, 1:1 in fact, for the last year. A child who has challenged me, annoyed me, threatened me and thanked me. A child who has made me realise that I am good at what I do, I enjoy what I do and more importantly, I am proud of what we, together, have achieved this year.

Years ago I decided I wanted to work with children, become a teacher perhaps I thought, working with the little ones in Reception and Key Stage 1. Their so innocent aren't they? So fun to be around. But circumstances being what they were at the time, this goal was not achievable. I could however gain some experience and make certain this was the route I wanted to take in the mean time. So I set about securing myself a place volunteering at one of my local schools, in a year 2 class. I relished the opportunity and enjoyed helping out on my days off, every week. I was soon moved up to a year 5 class who were crying out for help. Here I met a young boy with Aspergers syndrome struggling to make his way through school life. One day, he was sat at his desk, staring blankly out the window, not listening to the teacher and flapping his pencil case in his face. Without thinking I walked over, removed his pencil case from his grip and sat down next to him. He looked at me and smiled, then looked at his class teacher and listened to the lesson being explained. There I stayed, for the next five months, until he moved up to year 6 in September. The improvements in this child's work were dramatic. Via a little encouragement he had been able to achieve at a much higher level then he was previously and the satisfaction for myself was immense!

A few weeks after that first encounter I started looking for courses available to me which would help me secure paid employment in this sector. I found the NVQ level 2 in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools and completed this whilst volunteering. Nearing completion of the NVQ I set about hunting for jobs and applied for a position at a nearby infant and junior school. The position was for a 1:1 teaching assistant to work with year 5 child with severe behavioural difficulties. Ten minutes after my interview, as I was walking through my front door, my phone rang. I had been successful.

I started my new job two days later and introduced myself to a stroppy child, with a face like thunder and an attitude to match. I spent hours observing this boy, working out why he behaved the way he did and how to help him. There were times at the beginning when I thought I had taken on to much. How could I help him? Who was I to tell him how he should control his anger? But then we would have a day where he would choose to work with me, pass me a pen, ask me to play a game, and I would see a side to him that was hidden away from view. We worked together to iron out the creases and develop the skills he needed to achieve his targets and socialise with peers. This young man now no longer requires the constant supervision that that same boy needed back when he started at the school. He has a strong group of friends and is looking forward to starting senior school in September, with his newly developed social skills and academic achievements, I’m sure he will enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed working with him.  

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