Throughout my high school career I had the honor of working in a SPED class, room 124. This room was by far my favorite place to be in school because it was full of my favorite people. When you walked past that door you walked into a new world full of friendship, love, excitement, and compassion. It was usually a small class of no more than 10 or so, but what it lacked in numbers it made up for in personality. Those students taught me more about love and life than I could ever hope to learn on my own. They changed my life in so many positive ways and touched my heart everyday. I'd love to share with you the many lessons I learned from room 124.
A lot of people think of love in a romantic light, and that it can be so hard to find and blah blah blah. But really, love is all around. And I saw it everywhere I looked in room 124. Students, teachers, or students: helping a student other with class work, helping each other complete a puzzle, sharing a snack with one another, making a classmate laugh when they were upset, and giving out hugs when someone was happy, sad, or excited. All of those are simple acts of love, but they make big impacts. The students and teachers in room 124 were always showing love for one another and it was very contagious. Everyday, I left that room feeling important, accepted, and well...loved, and it made me want to share the feeling with others too. Everyone wants to feel loved, and even the small things can show others you love and care about them.
In my years of working with these students, I found that everyday was a new adventure, and a new chance to spread happiness and positivity. Many of the students were very joyful. The second anyone walked through the door they were immediately bombarded with "hello, what's your name?" "How are you?" and lots of smiles and curiosity. It was always refreshing to see how happy and excited they were when greeting a new person with the same enthusiasm they would greet a friend. They always saw the potential for good in others even when the person couldn't see it in themselves, and they never hesitated to encourage someone when they were down, or to make others laugh and smile. I never walked out of that room without a smile on my face (except of course on the last day when I was sad to say goodbye). Much like their love, their joy was contagious too. WhenI left them to go to my next class I would always find myself smiling at everyone in the hallways and just felt genuinely happy throughout the day.
It's no secret that everyone has their own unique capabilities and talents, but sometimes it can be hard to accept a person when they seem so different from us. Acceptance was never and issue in room 124! Those students knew that some peers were good at math, or science, and some were good and reading or english, and that some people were quiet and reserved, or some were loud and outgoing. They didn't care about their differences from one another, they only cared about being friends and working as a team to get things done.They learned to get a long and to highlight other's differences as not bad things, but as that person's unique strengths. Nothing makes me angrier than with someone decides to make fun of the special needs community. Yes, everyone is different in many ways and everyone has their own strengths, but at the end of the we are all the same in the sense that we want to be treated with the compassion and respect we deserve.
Even though the students generally respected and worked well with one another there are always set backs. Everyone makes mistakes and even big mistakes, and when that happened in room 124 forgiveness was always the end result. Of course, when a student messed up they were encouraged to evaluate their actions and apologize. Sometimes it can be hard to forgive others, but we always tried to remind our students how they would want to be treated had they been the ones to mess up. Usually in a matter of 10 minutes the students at conflict would forgive and forget and be back to laughing in no time. They didn't tend to hold grudges and I always admired that. I think when we're trying to forgive someone it's important to think about all the bad things others have forgiven for you and consider why you should do the same for another. The person at fault is genuinely sorry (or even if they aren't) what's the point in holding a grudge? Whatever happened, happened and you can't go back and erase it. The only thing you can do is just let go and move on, and if you're holding a grudge it can be hard to move on.
Though I absolutely loved and adored every student I got to work with, there were days where they seemed to work my last nerve. On days like those I always looked up to the wonderful teachers of room 124. They always were patient and kind with students even when they were getting asked the same question for the 10th time. I learned how to take a step back and try to have a better understanding of those around me. I know none of the students were purposely trying to get on your nerves, and if they were repeatedly asking a question they probably forgot the answer or I didn't explain it good enough the first time. Their repeated questions or what ever behavior that was wearing on my patiences was always innocently done and I did my best to remember that on difficult days. I try to apply patiences to events outside the classroom too, it's not always easy but if you try to put yourself in that other persons shoes I think it helps a lot.
Room 124 will forever be my favorite place to be. The memories I made there are ones I'll never forget. The friends I made there are a family I will have for life. But most importantly, the lessons I've learned there will stay with me forever. Everyday, I try to share love, joy, acceptance, forgiveness, and patience with others and always remember who taught me those lessons best.