Teaching and Changing Livesd

By Anonymous | Published on October 15, 2020 | 5 Minute Read

I was talking to a tree yesterday. It sat in the garden of our school, green and lush and bushy. I was laying on the ground, on my stomach, in the sun, talking to it. Or so it seemed to any passerby. The truth, in fact, was that hiding behind this very lush tree was a small boy feeling frightened and anxious and overwhelmed. He had (just moments before) rapidly exited a cricket game and made a little cosy corner for himself in there. It was a place he could hide and be safe and calm down where he didn’t have to be confronted by anyone or anything. I just lay there beside him, chatting and reassuring him and it wasn’t too long before he came out and seemed ok.

This is not uncommon in the school that I teach in. I work in a school for students who have been diagnosed with autism. This is my 15th year teaching but my first in a school such as this. And like all teaching roles before me, this is THE BEST, THE MOST REWARDING but in addition, this one has the title for THE MOST CHALLENGING.

It could be that I am working full time for the first time since becoming a mother. It could be that I feel as though I am juggling a million balls in the air at school, I drive home in silence and then place my mama hat on and carry on with juggling more balls. It could be that each individual students’ needs in our classroom are exactly that INDIVIDUAL and NEEDS. On any given day we could have a student calming down inside the garden, another one not being able to start any work due to anxiety, another one laying on the floor outside the classroom refusing to do anything and another only wanting to use green textbooks to do all his school work. We have had meltdowns involving scissors and tables being flipped and days where we are growled and hissed at because we asked someone to put their hat on.

"And like all teaching roles before me, this is THE BEST, and THE MOST REWARDING but in addition, this one has the title for


And each day is different. And many times, the events of the day come without warning.

And I love it.

I love that the students who entered our classroom at the beginning of this year are so different to the ones we teach now. I love that we have been able to slowly (very slowly) challenge their thinking and make a dramatic change to their responses and their behavior. I love that we were told “these students won’t do PE” and since then they have played a game or cricket as a team and were jumping into the long jump pit yesterday.

For any special needs educators reading this, the biggest lesson I have learnt this year is this: the uniqueness and challenges of a disability should be communicated openly and honestly as acknowledgement and recognition of gifts and limitations is the first step to moving forward. We have spoken so openly and honestly with our students about autism, about what it is and what it looks like for each of them individually. In our classroom, Autism is the reason but never, ever the excuse.

Yes, talking to trees might be part of my day to day life BUT supporting these young people to become all that they were created to be is the BEST part of my every day.

About the Author

Teaching and Changing Lives

I am a teacher with 15 years experience as a classroom teacher, behaviour management teacher and is now working with students who have been diagnosed with autism. I have always wanted to be a teacher and I pinch myself that I get paid to live my dream every day. It is my sweet spot and I am constantly grateful.