As an urban school district, Reading has never been considered especially prestigious. Many individuals want to teach in any district besides Reading, however, those who have risen to the challenge of teaching in an inner-city setting are truly wonderful.
As a Special Education Floater Aide (that being a fancy way of saying substitute), I have the opportunity to work with many different members of the Special Education staff, and while I might be biased, reading has an absolutely amazing Special Education staff. More accurately, reading has an amazing staff in all education departments, in my position I just happen to work more closely with the Special Ed staff. So far this year I’ve had the pleasure of working with staff and students in Emotional Support, Life Skills, Autistic Support, and Physical Support, different teachers and aides in each specialized classroom. Working in different classrooms and in different buildings across the district has allowed me to meet and work with some very dedicated teachers and aides.
The teachers and aides really take the time to get to know their students; they have the unique ability of knowing if it’s going to be a good day or rough day just from their student’s demeanor the moment they exit the school bus. The teachers and aides know when a student just needs space to calm down before they start their school day, or whether they need just a little extra encouragement, they realize the power of a kind word or gesture. They greet the students at the bust every morning with a smile and tell the students how happy they are to see them. These teacher and aides love their jobs and their students, and it is obvious daily in their classrooms.
Teachers learn Spanish to better communicate with the English Language Learner students. Aides learn sign language to better communicate with deaf and Autistic students. Emotional Support teachers and aides know what escalates a student, but also what calms them. They know the best tone of voice to use when giving directions. Some of these dedicated individuals won’t take their own lunchtime unless they are made to do so. These staff members know when the students just need to take five minutes to go for a walk and calm down. Sure, sometimes it’s overwhelming, these positions are stressful and exhausting, but they are also very rewarding and it’s obvious the staff in these positions know the reward behind the hard work. I’m fortunate to work alongside these great people, and I hope they realize how important and appreciated they are.