Spreading the Word

Special Olympics, Ending the R-word, Getting Involved

Teacher for a Day

on March 26, 2013

As a journalism minor I have to take a Feature Writing class and one of my assignments is to write a self-involvement article  about something I have always wanted to do. As I sat in class trying to think of something that I have never done and could write an article on – the usual “bucket list” ideas came to mind: skydiving, competing in a triathlon, going on a safari. But they I thought, “What could I do that I know I will enjoy and be able to help someone else?” The answer was a no-brainer. I decided to be a special education teacher for a day.

I got in touch with one of the teachers at my high school and spent the day in the post-secondary special education class. The students in this class were between the ages of 17 and 22 and getting ready to leave school to go onto work programs. I learned that most of the students were not born with their disabilities and that many of them are living with traumatic brain injuries.

The teacher said she uses a method called “decontamination through humor” if anyone ever gets upset or a topic gets to heavy to handle – they make a joke and lighten the mood.

The classroom is like a therapy session, the teacher told me. “What is said in here stays in here.”

During a speech session, we talked about the way we are treated and how it makes us feel when people push us away or ignore us. One of the students became overwhelmed with past experiences so immediately, one of the teachers played LMFAO’s “I’m Sexy and I Know It.” Everyone jumped up out of their seats and started showing off their dance moves. It was just the kind of break we needed so everyone had a chance to unwind from such a heavy topic.

The class curriculum focuses mostly on life skill development, listening skills, how to follow directions, how to communicate with others and how to treat each other.

One of the lessons that day was, treat everyone with respect. It was a conversation that everyone today should have heard. We talked about how to act towards someone you may not particularly like – you have to be nice and respectful anyway.

I never thought that I would learn so much in one day. It was one of the most rewarding days of my life. All of the students were wonderful – they were sweet, funny and had such uplifting personalities. My day in that classroom has made me re-think my future. I even contemplated changing my major and career path but I have decided to get even more involved in Special Olympics instead – maybe as a coach.

There are so many stories that I could tell but I just don’t have the space to do so. But what I can say is, spending the day with these 15 students made me look at life in a whole new light. They have changed me for the better.

Lloyd, Danny, KorinaAyoub, Dennis



2 responses to “Teacher for a Day

  1. mobrienweiss says:

    Love the inclusion of the photos. Good work.

  2. […] The PACE Program does a lot to help their students build the right motor and life skills to succeed after graduation. One of my previous blogs talks about my experience teaching in a PACE classroom and some of the life skills that they practice. You can find that blog post here. […]

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