Each month VOCEL’s team members gather for a monthly Togetherness Meeting which opens with a different team member sharing a reflection. This month, Cooperating Teacher, Kinya Willaby, shared her thoughts.
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From Ms. Kinya, January 5, 2016:
I was prepared to reflect on some professional resolutions that would assist me in being a more effective educator and a better team member overall. While important, I realized last night, I was moved to reflect on Wesley* instead. (Wesley’s last day at VOCEL was Jan. 4 as his family relocated outside the state.)
Yesterday was his last day at VOCEL, and it was a vast contrast from his first day here. I can vividly remember him throwing classroom furniture, being verbally and physically aggressive to children and staff alike, and bolting down the hallway running away from teachers. I recall getting in my car feeling defeated and saying out loud: ‘I don’t know how to do this job.’
As Wesley’s challenging behavior persisted, so did our team’s commitment to persist: we researched, trouble-shooted and derived solutions and resources. We learned how to understand Wesley’s behavior, communicated effectively with his family, developed signals for teacher’s to tap in/out, discovered and anticipated the triggers for his anger and frustration, helped him identify and communicate his emotions, and ultimately, we learned his love language.
It was not just one of the aforementioned ideas, strategies or resources that helped Wesley develop into the loving, charming, classroom-rule-following kid that departed yesterday. It was the collective efforts, commitment, experiences and knowledge of the entire VOCEL team that contributed to Wesley’s overall growth and success. The shared trials and victories over this one child’s successes helped us bond as a team, by recognizing each other’s strengths and trusting each other to problem solve together.
It certainly armed us with the tools to effectively combat present day challenges that occur in the classroom. It also helped validate my purpose and decision to educate kids during the critical early years. Whatever my daily challenge is at VOCEL, I no longer have the sentiment I did on that first day. I take comfort and pride in knowing that I can, in fact, do this job because I never have to do it alone.
*Name changed to protect the identity of our VOCEL child.