From a Future Special Education Teacher: Stop Doubting Me

From a Future Special Education Teacher: Stop Doubting Me

My career choice and major are not your concern, so please stop trashing something you know nothing about.

At the end of my freshman year in high school I began to tell my family, friends, and anyone who would listen about my passion for Special Education, and my love for the special-needs community, and how I wanted to spend the rest of my life working with and for this community through majoring in special-education, in order to become a teacher. Immediately I was hit with "you don't realize just how difficult those kids are", "I don't think you realize just how much work that's going to be, it's a thankless job" and even "I think you are going to find yourself miserable working with people like that, they hit, they kick and bite, they tend to get very violent, and I think you're going to find that you'll walk in on day one and find yourself to be miserable". In all honesty hearing these comments hurt, not because I was crushed that they had ripped on my ability to work with these incredible individuals, but because never having experienced it themselves, those who were closest to me were willing to believe stigmas over hearing about my own personal experiences. People who have never interacted with an individual with special-needs were more willing to believe the lies the media and society had told them, rather than giving these kids, and ultimately myself, a chance to prove their thoughts wrong.

I continued the rest of my three years in high school refusing to give up on my dream of becoming an incredible teacher, and by June of the summer before my senior year, I had applied and been admitted to my dream school, one that had a fantastic special-education program, and encouraged me to go out and make the impact I so hoped to make. Yet, as I told some of these same family and friends this, they had very similar responses. Now it was "you're wasting your money on a degree that you are going to be miserable in the field of" and "You cannot possibly be serious, what exactly do you plan on doing with that degree?" that those who doubted and discouraged me felt the need to voice. Luckily, I'm a stubborn person, and I refuse to listen to the opinion of others until I have proved myself wrong or right, so off I went, determined as ever to be an incredible teacher who really makes an impact.

Now, just finishing my first semester as a special-education (for student's with cognitive impairments) major, I cannot imagine myself doing anything else, I proved to myself that this career is where I am meant to be. I feel at home in all of my education classes, and I am excited to learn about how to be the best teacher I can possibly be, and truly better the lives of my students. I work my absolute butt off, and pulled the highest GPA I have ever had, as I am passionate about what it is I am learning, and want to be able to deliver it to my future students. I cannot tell you that these people have stopped trying to discourage me thought, if anything it has gotten worse, especially since I have never backed down or allowed them to changed I believe in, myself, and my ability to be a fantastic special-educator that makes a huge impact on her students.

So to those who have worked so hard to convince me to go other routes, a doctor, a lawyer, or even a politician, please do not waste any more breath on this hopeless case. My mom used to say "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all", but to you I'll say "if you don't have anything positive to say about my career choice, keep your mouth shut", because I don' want to hear it. It is not your life, it is not your "mistake" (not that I can agree with that), and ultimately, it is not your money being spent. So, save your energy and bother someone else, since this girl is ready to better the lives of everyone in the special-needs community, by changing how the world and society sees them. Watch me succeed and applaud me, or sit on the bench silently, at this point in life, so many incredible people are encouraging me, that your opinion matters none.

And hey, my classroom would love volunteers when I get there, if you ever really want to see what a successful and fulfilling career looks like! My students I'm sure would sure love to steal your heart, as every student I have worked with has stolen mine. Stay or go, I don't mind, my heart is full by being surrounded by beautiful souls.

Cover Image Credit: Freeland Photography

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Finals Week As Told By Schmidt

Schmidt Happens

Finals week is finally upon us. The time every college student has dreaded all semester and there is no avoiding it. Let the stress, tears, and sleepless nights commence. Here's Finals Week as Told by Schmidt.

1. When you walk into the library and see that there are no more spots available because every freshman decided to start using the library now.

See Also: Finals Week As Told My Marshall Eriksen

2. You run into someone from your class and they ask you how prepared you are for the final.

3. Your first meltdown begins...

4. And then you get a call from your parents asking you why you've been so on edge lately

5. When you're three coffees deep at 2AM and believe everything will be okay even though you still haven't studied.

6. The day has arrived and it's time to take your first final so you give yourself a quick pep talk.

7. When you are the first one to finish the final early because you didn't study.

SEE ALSO: Finals Week As Told By Dwight Schrute

8. Trying to pack while studying.

9. And then you start wishing you didn't wait until the last minute to pack because now there is no way your stuff will fit into your car.

10. When you get your first grade back.

11. And you have to tell your parents how you did in the class.

12. When all of your roommates are done with their finals and you still have one left.

13. But then your time has finally come and you have finished your last final as well.

14. And you realize you have survived yet another hell week.

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The Truth About Academic Dishonesty

The person you're cheating isn't just yourself.

As finals week approaches, many of us are going to be tempted to make some bad academic decisions. Procrastination is a common example, but the one I would like to focus on is cheating.

We’ve all cheated on something. It’s a simple fact. The problem with college isn’t that you have to take a test or do homework, but that your teachers don’t seem to realize that you are also enrolled in four to five additional classes. And, somehow, the stars seem to align, and all your tests and assignments fall within days or even hours of one another.

The reality is that school asks a lot of students, and sometimes some people feel that it gets to be too much for them to do honestly. As a result, many students fall victim to the pressure and make poor academic decisions to get themselves out of a deep hole of work.

Regardless of how many of us have cheated, it’s something we should all learn from right now.

The common phrase is, “When you cheat, the only person you’re cheating is yourself." However, for a majority of students, the “consequences” of cheating seem to be higher grades and lower stress. While many universities, including my own, have very strict academic integrity policies that are recited to us hundreds of times during syllabus week, many students feel that the risk is worth the reward.

So, clearly, that deterrent isn’t working.

But there is another way to think about it, which is the way I think about it. The other common phrase is, “You wouldn’t want a doctor that cheated his way through medical school, would you?”, to which most of us would say, “Of course not."

That’s the way we should be framing the problem of cheating.

When you cheat, it isn’t you that you’re short-changing; it’s people you haven’t even met yet. Professionals such as doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, and engineers have hands-on jobs that require a large skill set and a vast amount of knowledge. The reality is that cutting corners on the academics of any of those professionals could be a matter of life or death, literally.

But the list doesn’t stop there. Individuals in finance, management, education, or even communication fields have an obligation to be well-versed in their specialty. Any of those individuals could say or do one wrong thing and have a profoundly negative impact on the life of an individual, a family, or a company.

Every career has its place in society, and the responsibilities of that career are centered around the assumption that you have earned the position you are in. This assumption is called into question when things like nepotism arise, which is a whole different problem by itself, and when you consider cheating.

If you cheat, especially if you do so consistently, you are not fulfilling the prerequisites for your position and, therefore, will not be able to fulfill your duties properly. The people that are affected by your inability to do your job should not have to suffer.

To put it frankly, either do the work or don’t pursue the career.

Because yes, college gets to be a lot at times. It’s very stressful and overwhelming and, oftentimes, teachers are unforgiving. But that’s life. It’s not meant to be easy, but rather reveal who you are when things get hard.

So be an honest person; if not for yourself, then for all the people whose lives you will impact in the future. Everything you do and learn now is shaping you into the professional you will be in the future, so don’t do yourself, or anyone else, any injustices.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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