This has been my first year teaching in a public school (I taught preK in a private center before) and my first year teaching special education in a resource room. Most of the time, I felt like I had just as much to learn as my students. There's definitely a huge learning curve to being a new teacher.
All of my students have made academic progress and learning gains, but I would have to say that I feel like the most successful part of the year is watching one of my students with autism improve his social interactions with others.
This student is melt-your-heart sweet and adorable. Oh, I love him to death. He tries so hard every day and ALWAYS has the greatest attitude. At the beginning of the year, he would only speak to me inside my classroom. If I saw him in the hallway (even if we were both walking into my classroom), he wouldn't speak to me until we were both in the classroom. Just a few weeks ago, I was on the playground looking for another student when this student spotted me and yelled hello at me all on his own! OMgosh, I couldn't have been more thrilled.
But the biggest success was when he started really building friendships with some of other boys in my class. He has really taken a liking to one of my 3rd graders. The 2 of them always come into my classroom in the afternoon. My student with autism has started asking for his friend if he's not there yet. They've developed this game where they make scary faces at each other. I don't get it, but I don't care! They're connecting. Then they started telling each other knock-knock jokes. It's seriously the highlight of my day.
He also connected with another 2nd grader, because they both LOVE Star Wars. It's something that they can both talk about, and I love hearing them talk about how they're going to be Luke Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi. So to encourage this friendship, I made them this Star Wars board game:
I know the picture isn't fabulous, but you can't expect much from an Iphone picture. I wish I had videotaped the boys excitement with this game. They were super excited and didn't care one bit that they had to read words with the 'ar' sound to play the game. The only disappointment was that I apparently picked the wrong picture of Luke Skywalker to be on the playing piece (not seen in the picture). I MUST get that fixed over spring break!