Guest Author - Vicki McCarthy
Children in general seem to have an innate sense of knowing which people genuinely care about them and those who just see them as another student to be taught. This is no different for children with special needs. In fact itís been my experience that these children are even more acutely aware of the people who take the time to truly connect with them. A childís journey through the special education system can be a rocky road and is very much dependent on the staff teaching them. A great teacher can achieve greatness. However the opposite is true and very often when a teacher does not understand the child, many difficulties can arise from that.
Certainly from my own experiences, I can honestly say that without exception, every teacher and practitioner who took the time to get to know my daughter and her little ways and develop a meaningful relationship with her, were the ones who saw her thrive within the educational environment both socially and academically. Her self-esteem soared and their confidence grew as they saw her develop, knowing that they had made such a positive difference to her life.
Not all of them were special education teachers or had any specific training in special education. (And thatís not to say that it shouldnít be a requirement Ė it absolutely should). But what they did have was a desire to make a difference to a childís life, who has many challenges, a desire to form a meaningful connection with another human being and a desire to help a child reach her unique and full potential regardless of any limits that were placed on her.
Very often the emphasis in todayís society is placed on academics and the importance of achieving great academic results even for children who are within the special education system. However a good teacher will see beyond that and seek to bring out the best in each and every child within their care, helping them become a well-rounded individual.
They will teach children tolerance, compassion, understanding, determination, build self-esteem and they will look beyond a label and see a human being who has much to offer the world. Thatís usually the teacher who has a great attitude, a passion for their work and who are highly motivated to help reach these special children.
Teaching a child with special needs canít always be easy, (just as being a parent isnít always easy). But when you are leaving your child with a teacher that you know has your childís best interests at heart, you leave them with a sense of relief and peace knowing that they are genuinely cared for.
When a teacher or practitioner goes that little bit further in order to understand a child with special needs - then anything is possible!