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Posts Tagged ‘#educationalassistants’

A profound sense of sadness filled me as the conference ended.

Conferences are the Zoom meetings of my workday. Averaging almost an hour each, I sit and assist students through their schoolwork, their frustrations with technology (can I get an amen?!), hear about their future plans, their younger siblings, their lives.

Conferences have become the conduit of education in this season of Covid 19.

But this conference … this one was different.

Just a week ago I had been frustrated with online learning, the conferences, the hours beyond the timesheet and feeling the struggle of trying to assist students without the advantage of body and facial language to enlighten me where their words were not. I was just so done with it.

But as that week wore on, my attitude of frustration and negativity did too.

At the end of the week, wanting to update to my supervisor about the successes of a couple of students, I kept going. I listed each student and was able to put to words their strengths … either academic, personality or character. As I finished the email, I realized how truly blessed I am to be privileged to walk through this season of high school, of online schooling with them.

I get to be their peace in the pandemic storm, their sounding board, their cheerleader, advocate, prod and even their academic support (that’s what I actually get paid to do 😉 ). This position is a privilege and I had (for a moment) forgotten that fact.

Then, yesterday happened …

A student (who I have worked alongside of for three years) requested a conference to discuss his research paper. I had been assisting him with it since online schooling began in early April (weeks before it was assigned, as he was determined to do well on it) … almost daily. He wanted to share his final mark, what the teacher said. Then we discussed his future plans, teachers who had impacted him and I was able to encourage him that he would do just great, not just in school, but in relationships … for he does not allow his weaknesses and struggles to define him.

Eventually our conference ended … and the profound sadness fell on me …

for there will be no academic need of another conference, his biggest academic mountain has been climbed, he reached the summit and in a few weeks he will graduate … he no longer needs my (our) help … my job is done.

Once again, worked myself out of a job.

I am sad that our season has come to an end, but so proud of who he has become and how well he will do in his future.

And this is our job, as an educational assistant, to help them through their schooling struggles so that they can move on in independence and under their own strength.

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When I was about fourteen I got my first prescription glasses.

They didn’t work.

Actually, they did work, but my eyesight deficiencies were so slight that my need of the lenses was not great enough to experience the inconvenience of wearing them.

Over the years I tried contacts, different frames, and lenses increasing in strength. It wasn’t until about two or three years ago that, when my prescription was increased, I wore my glasses more often than not. As a matter of fact I refuse to drive without them now. I need them to watch a movie or play at the theatre, and I certainly need them to see what is written on the board of a classroom.

They are still uncomfortable, annoying at times and frustrating to wear if I am sweating, but their usefulness outweighs the frustrations that come with them.

To try to do much of life without wearing my glasses would be fruitless. They allow me to do and to be my best. Though I am a very competent driver, believe me, without my glasses, no one would want me to be on the roads.

I have had the privilege of working with students who also need assistance in performing to the best of their abilities, to do and to be their best. Often these students are viewed or believed to be stupid or lazy.

Some need what was taught in class to be re-explained, some need technology to assist their written output, others need more time to do an assignment, still others need less options on multiple choice or a word bank for fill-in-the-blanks, and then there are those who simply need to do their work out loud, allowing their ears to actually hear what they are thinking.

One of the greatest examples I have ever known of the assistance that educational assistants can give is of one young man who struggles with written output. For a math test, he was allowed someone to scribe for him, writing onto the paper only what he told them to write. Now, for me, to have someone else scribe a math test would drive me to distraction, but this young man thrived, achieving a test mark well above his average. He knew how to do the work, he simply struggled to get the knowledge in his brain onto the paper.

They are not stupid or lazy, they are simply impaired in an area, as I am in my vision. So, in my job as an educational assistant, I get to be their glasses. It would be irresponsible for them to not receive such help, and it would be negligent to not offer and allow such assistance to those who need it to do and to be their best.

 

 

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