As you know, I work as an instructional paraprofessional (aide) at a wonderful elementary school with the most amazing staff......and it goes without saying, the most precious children! Up until the past couple of years, I spent a majority of my day working with At-Risk learners, especially readers. Being a voracious reader myself, it gave me great joy to be able to help children who struggled with the mechanics of reading finally be able to see reading as a pleasurable experience. That is not always the case with children for whom letter sounds, blending, and reading are difficult concepts to master. As a result of their learning difficulties, these children will often tell me how much they 'hate' books. When they do, my heart hurts so for them but it also motivates me to strive that much harder to find a way for them to master the concept of reading and to share my love of good books with them.
I share all that as a preface to what comes next......This year I am working primarily with Language Arts in 2nd grade through 6th grade. Some of the groups I work with are At Risk learners while others are not. It is pretty much a mixed bag of abilities which is fine by me! This week the 3rd grade group of students I work with have been learning all about persuasive paragraphs and today they began actually writing. As they worked on their topic sentences, one young boy wanted to share his with the class. The classroom teacher, being the encouraging person she is, allowed him to do so. I was blown away by what he felt so strongly about that he wanted other people to feel the same way. This small eight year old boy stood proudly before his classmates, his paper clutched in his hands and read loudly, " I believe books are the source of all knowledge."
Knowing how he and his twin brother have struggled, and indeed still do struggle, with learning since they began attending school, saying my heart was touched is an understatement. It is moments like that one which make the teaching profession so worthwhile. Sometimes when I've had to eat Vienna sausages and Saltines for dinner four nights in a row because my paycheck has had another chunk taken out of it by the powers that be, it is demoralizing to be in this profession. When I start feeling that way I pull out the memories of children who through the years have blessed me like Trent did today. That is when I know if I had to do it all over again....I would.