I love working with special needs students. In fact, I love it so much that I often recognize when a little more work might be needed on a topic/lesson and so I take it upon myself to go that extra mile. The consequence is that during the school year, I might just work an additional hour or two at night on my own time. Many teachers ask me for my opinion, and I am grateful. I feel appreciated and a part of the process. It is always nice to be included and be valued for my opinions.
I believe that instructional assistants should have a voice. After all, we are part of the team carrying out the IEP goals and consequently, have insight on student achievement and motivation. After eight years of being an aide, I finally learned that the most powerful gift that I can give my students is faith, words to express their feelings, and the opportunity to respect who they are even when they are at their worst. I believe what I am doing is empowering students with a sense of belonging and significance.
Please consider the instructional assistant an asset to the classroom and realize that we are just as invested in the student as the other members of the staff that touch their lives. I am in it for the kids!