After two months of working as a novice teacher, I noticed that something changed in the way I work. I can easily say I handle the routine, I know what to teach and how and I know how to handle my class. Let’s call it as the basic level of teaching. Mastering the basic level you will easily survive as a substitute teacher. But surviving is not mastering. To reach the next level, you will get to the topic that all the exam books in teacher training are about – differentiation. According to my qualification certificate, I master differentiation on paper. And yet, I find myself spending hours on thinking how to support my students’ learning better. How to apply differentiation and intensified support in practice? And is it something I should think about on weekends?
As a novice teacher who hasn’t specialized in special needs education, I was feeling quite lost with different learning difficulties and behavioral disorders. In the beginning, it just felt too much to take everything into consideration. Therefore, I tried to focus on the general support and surveyed the students’ needs. At that point, it was enough. But as the school year is ending soon and the plans for the next semester need to be done, I suddenly found myself in the middle of the Swedish red-tape jungle. This led me to the classic question: Why weren’t we taught anything about this administrative side of a teacher’s job? How to read a diagnose and how to use that knowledge in teaching? At least in my opinion, it would have been a rather useful course to do before graduating,
The fact is, however, that you cannot close your eyes and pretend that disabilities or misbehavior do not exist. They will still be there when at some point you finally have to open your eyes. Furthermore, they won’t disappear if you don’t react to them somehow. So, did my homework and thought what else I could do to support my students. Not only to help them to learn better but to feel better, too. Perhaps this is the deeper level that makes the difference between the position of a permanent teacher and a supply teacher. You take the long-term responsibility for your students. And maybe even a little bit too much of it. Some might even call this as the occupational disease of a teacher.
Sure, as the classroom teacher it’s mainly my business how the students are doing. Also, my wellbeing at work depends on that. But no, it isn’t worth to worry about the bonus level alone at home on weekend. At least that is not how it should go. What I have learned now is that I cannot leave myself alone with problems that should be solved with multi-professional cooperation. The greatest respect for all special education teachers!