A former student who is now working on a degree interviewed me as a class assignment. She needed to interview someone who had a caseload.

I don’t know how she typed up my responses, and she also had to make a presentation to the class about me. Apparently I was a big hit 🙂

I don’t think much about what I do, or how long I have been doing it. I just get stuff done. The student felt like she was burdening me by asking me all these questions. Truth is my total time responding was about 15-20 minutes

This is a copy and paste from the email.

How do you use motivation and confrontation to engage clients and promote change? Example?

Motivation and confrontation. Well most of the students have behaviors that make it difficult to be appropriate in a regular classroom setting, but they want to be more “normal” so I help them learn how to be more appropriate as a student. When they reach that level, or close in terms of their consistency, I look for a general education teacher that is willing to work with me and the student. Every so often the student doesn’t feel like going to the new class and just want to hang out in my room. I have a standard response:”You’ve worked very hard to earn this opportunity. It would be a shame to miss class; you always seem excited when you come back. I would be very disappointed if you choose not to go to class and I’m sure Mr. /Mrs. /Ms. would be equally or more disappointed if I told them you were here and you decided not to go to their class.” It always works; sometimes they sit there a few minutes, but always works. I ignore them after I give that little speech J

How do you maintain cultural sensitivity? Example?

Cultural sensitivity is easy. I get to know the students as people. Treat them with respect, talk to them like they have a brain, and tell them they are capable, no matter their background, of accomplishing whatever goals they set. The biggest issue I face in this regard is with parents. I deal with a lot of traditional Latin families where family comes first. My point to those parents that want to limit their students participation when it conflicts with family “obligations” is they, the parents, are not going to be there forever. Their student needs to be prepared to do things for them self.

What are some challenges with working with your clients?

I think the biggest challenge is coordinating with the other professionals also providing support to my students. Everyone has their own agenda, most of the time we are all on the same page. Sometimes we are not. Also the expectations we have for them may be slightly different, and that may be problematic when meeting with parents. I also like to have pre-meetings with the others that may be meeting with me and the parent(s) to make sure we are clear about what message we give to the parents/student. Extra meetings = extra time and who has that.

How do you build rapport with your clients and establish a positive relationship? Example?

Rapport building I talked about a little earlier. One thing I like to do at least a couple of times a month is field trips. Nothing elaborate, it might even be as simple as taking the public transportation and going to a farmer’s market, or everyone brings $5 and we go to a local park and bbq and throw a ball/Frisbee around, play on the swings. Maybe go see a movie another time. Get them out of the class in a more social setting and basically just hangout. Working on social skills is something they need because most people don’t want to hang out with the student with special needs.

What is the toughest case you have had and why?

Toughest case I had was having a girl with schizophrenia. She did not consistently take her meds nor did she consistently participate in therapy. She was very intelligent, as most schizophrenics are. She could be quite violent sometimes and I would have to restrain her. We’re trained how to do that so neither the student nor myself gets hurt. I must say, though, she was also one of the best students I have ever worked with. She was a constant challenge for me to as an educator to challenge her academically. I used a lot of my college textbooks with her.

How do you manage stress to prevent burn out?

How do I manage stress? Like most teachers I drink heavily 🙂 seriously, it’s all about keeping perspective. You do what you do; you do it the best you can, at the end of the day leave it at work, emotionally. There will be a tomorrow, you get another chance to do your best and try to make a difference. I never take setbacks with students are not personal attacks on my character or ability. They are going to happen. Don’t freak out. Keep perspective. Leave your ego out of everything as much as possible. And away from work, be away from work. Avoid talking about it much. Of course you’re going to think about it, but you don’t have to talk about it. It will be there tomorrow. And like anything focus and highlight the positive experiences you have, be thankful for successes and keep those in the front of your mind.

How do you maintain a positive well-being?

I think I answered the positive well being, but I could add that bring that idea to the students. All they can do is their best each day. Some days are better than others, we call that life. Don’t get down if you’re having a bad day, they will happen. Each day is another chance. Believe that things will get better if they are not going well. Know that things will go bad at some point again. Hopefully in between there’s a lot of good. It’s unreasonable to think things are going to go well all the time. But hope that they do, and be prepared when they don’t

Thank you for reading my share with a former student. I am a lot of things and I am not a lot of things. One of the things I am is consistent with a message about my view of the world and how to operate in it 😀

Share with your friends!


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