I have said so many negative things about my job as a high-school special educator that I feel like I am neglecting the positive things. (The former oustrips the latter but does not render it non-existent). So, for the past week, I have been debating on what positive things I can write about my job. At the top of the list: mock trial.
All teachers at my high school are required to "sponsor" at least one extra-curricular activity, and I was offered to be the co-coach of New Town's mock trial team. For those unfamiliar, mock trial is a competitive endeavor where two teams put on a 'court case.' At the beginning of the year, each team is handed a 'case book' with all the relevant information to the case, inclulding synopsis, affidavits, and case law. Teams may be called to 'put on' the part of the prosecution or defendants, and students play the part both of lawyers and witnesses.
At first, I wasn't quite excited about doing mock trial but now I am finding it to be one of the things that is getting me through this job. Being a special educator, I am often working with kids who are academically less-than-motivated. Mock trial sees me working with some of the best academic minds in the school. It gives me a chance to interact with thoughtful students and push them to think and analyze in a way that I might never be able to push some of the special education students. (This is not to say anything negative about the special education students, but simply to point out facts.)
Today, for instance, was quite rough. We have been administering the HSA standardized tests, and most of my special education kids are not taking the test seriously at all. (It is emotionally jarring to see kids not take seriously a test that could affect their ability to get a diploma.) By the time of mock trial practice, I was tired, hungry, and not in a very great mood.
One hour later, I have (at least a bit of) my invigoration back! We had a good "dry run" of the case (with me and the other coach playing the other team's parts). These kids are so enthusiastic, eager, and intelligent that they make a brilliant cap to a disasterous day.
I know I have a tendency to be very negative about my job, but there do exist good parts; as small as they might be, they sometimes help save me. Thank you, mock trial!