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Wow. What a week.

As a special education teacher, I love the challenges that come with my job. I deal mainly with children who have behavior struggles. My resource room is their, and their regular education teacher’s, safe haven. However, that doesn’t mean it’s MY safe haven. I spend the majority of my days trying to stay twenty steps ahead of each of my kids, predicting behavior before it happens and curbing catastrophes.

Enter my newest student almost two weeks ago.

He is literally “hell on wheels”.

To be fully transparent, this student has had difficulties since kindergarten. He is now in third grade. Why it has taken this long to get him identified is an entire other post. Stay tuned.

This student is a pro at not only bully behavior, but also walking into a classroom and flipping over desks, chairs and anything else that causes complete turmoil to everyone present. He was continually verbally abusive to his teacher, who is a phenomenal educator.

After we were able to get all of his paperwork written up and actually placed him with an IEP and he began coming to my room, things seemed to worsen. After one absolutely atrocious day, I went home, smoked half a pack of cigarettes, drank a bottle of wine and stayed up until three in the morning trying to figure out what in the world I could do for this kid. It seemed that transitions were the culprit. I proposed that he stay with me all day. My principal had the same idea. So began the journey that I’ve been on for the past two weeks.

One of the biggest things I want my kids to have is complete, unconditional love. Some of them have great homes. Others not so much. I began to love on this kid as I’ve never loved on a student before. I provided a lenient structure. I gave him the opportunity to verbalize to me in any way he needed to, even if that included ‘bad’ words. I provided him with leadership roles. I talked to him like the street-smart kid he is. I created time for just the two of us. And none of this is in an inappropriate way, just a different relationship than I’ve had with a student before.

That began fourteen days ago. This past Wednesday he started actively engaging in all academic work I had for him. Yesterday he turned in his daily folder with COMPLETED homework. Things he hasn’t done in over two years. Today he sat in class for eighty percent of the day and was appropriate. Before he left my classroom this afternoon he looked at me and said, “I love you, Ms. Glass.”

I wanted to cry.

I am exhausted. My emotional and mental tanks are drained. But I will go to bed tonight completely fulfilled. Is he going to completely stop his behaviors? No. And I know that. Has progress been made? Absolutely. And that’s what I’m in this business for: progress, not perfection. I want my kids to know so much more than academics. I want them to be productive citizens. I want them to figure out how to self-regulate. I want them to learn how to communicate what they are feeling and what they are going through. I want them to be able to socialize appropriately. Everything else will come.


[bctt tweet=”The most prickly of kids are the ones who need it the most.” username=””]

We need to remember the power of love, especially for those kids who seem to be completely unlovable. The most prickly of kids are the ones who need it the most. Give it freely.

Paula has a Masters degree in education with an emphasis on child development and child behavior....

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