Saturday, February 19, 2011

Learning from experiences

What a week it was! At the beginning of the week, I was feeling very low about my job. I had taken Thursday and Friday off from the week before to take a break from all the drama in our room and the other special ed room next door. I hoped a 4-day break would provide enough cooling down time for everyone.

But I wasn't even aware of all the gossip and attempts to pull me down that had been going on for weeks until the Wednesday before I took my days off. I was clueless, as usual--the last, literally, to know what was going on. I think part of it was because I don't read body language very well, and part because I don't expect professional people to behave this way. I think everyone thinks the same way I do. Wrong!

A lot of the resentment came because I use sign language and go to classes all day with my student, who everyone admits is a wonderful kid. The others have to push wheelchairs, do heavy lifting, feed students, and change diapers most of the day. However, I spent $3000 of my own money, and spent a great part of my summer studying, and then attended a 2 week intensive 'boot camp' ASL course. I don't gloat, but I have earned myself a 'cushier' position. I also have seniority on everyone in both rooms.

I came back Monday all braced up to treat everyone kindly, even if they didn't treat me that way. I am an Orthodox Christian, and I believe we should treat others the way we would want to be treated, even if they don't reciprocate. The co-worker in my room only had one thing to say to me all day, and that was to interrupt my break to inform me that my student's DVD seemed to have 'frozen', and walked away. I found out later she and the other aides resented that I took my breaks, among other things. She avoided eye contact more than I ever do. She wouldn't even look in my direction. I felt like a pariah.

Then, I happened to overhear the teacher I work for telling an aide from another room that someone had come to him and complained that she had seen me sitting at my desk last Tuesday at 2:45, 'doing nothing.' I had been taking my last 15 minute break. The teacher wouldn't divulge the name, but did say he told her to bug off, and that I deserved my breaks.

After that, I really began to feel picked on. My brain went the same route and tapped into the same feelings that I felt back on the play ground when a girl would say, "I want to play with you, and you and you and NOT you (which was me). I wondered, who would dislike me so much that she felt she had to go and tattle on me. She didn't act professional and bother to ask me what I was doing. No, she assumed the worst.

Laying awake that night, I figured out who it was...the speech therapist who keeps trying to insert herself into our classroom and tell everyone what to do. So, I didn't feel so bad. She hasn't liked me since I blew up at her for messing in something I was trying to accomplish with students. I also decided to treat the other aide in my room with all the courtesy and respect I wanted out of her.

By mid-Tuesday, my spirits started lifting. The other aide couldn't help but respond, and maybe she realized all the conclusions about me from the gossiping she did with the aides from the room next door were wrong. I don't know.

I kept doing my job with my students to the best of my ability, avoided the gossip and drama, and tried to keep a positive attitude. By the end of the week, the teacher I work for informed me that the speech therapist is not allowed in our room anymore (and not just because of me) and that everyone has been told to leave me alone and quit complaining. He said I was the best aide in the school, and that I do my job well, and I won't have any more interference. He and the vice-principal won't listen to any more griping.

I'm wiser, now, about people. I had regarded the aide in my room as a friend. I think that made me feel betrayed by what she had done. Now I regard her merely as a co-worker. And that's how it was all along. We never had contact outside of work hours. It was my mistake.

As an Aspie, I naturally avoided the gossip and drama, and kept focused on my work (except for great anxiety that robbed me of my sleep). That won me the respect of the teacher and vice-principal. I can continue to do my job with my deaf student and not be forced to spend time changing diapers and feeding students in the severe/profound room.

All is well.

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