It is so weird to walk into a school but this time I'm the grown up. I started tutoring, being a teachers aide and other stuff. I tried elementary school and I am not good with little kids. The first day of my job, I was working with kindergarteners. I didn't realize how much energy a whole group of little people can have. I tutored reading to 3rd graders on the same day. While watching the kindergarteners during lunch time a little girl liked me because we both wore the same shoes that day. And because I was a cool TA. She drew a picture and signed it "To Ms. Indu, the best Sub." How sweet!

When I am working in a high school, it is different. Often in high schools I am mistaken for a student. One day, I had a teacher stop me in the hallway and ask, "Why aren't you in class?" When I told her who I was, she laughed and said "Don't worry, later in your teaching career you'd look back at this and laugh." Another time, a teacher wondered what I was doing in the staff break room.

    * Interestingly, the students don't see me as one of them. They always ask me If I am a student teacher. A 15-year-old asks me how old I am in a conversation. I tell him I am almost 24. His response, "Wow, you don't look that old." Oh, thanks a lot!

    * What I like about this job is I get to work at different schools and programs. One day, I'll be doing high school Special Ed. and another day 7th grade ESL. And I can choose when to work. This week I have been working with Special Ed. kids and I really have to say it takes a special person to be a special education teacher. I mean you have to work with kids with all kinds of issues. You have to be emotionally strong.
    * Today, I worked in a high school special education class for kids with mild/moderate mental retardation and behavior problems. That teacher I worked under was amazing. I could really tell he cared for those kids. Some people mask a fake pity out of duty or because they feel they have to. But, people can see right through it. True compassion and love cannot be faked easily. Some may miss it at first but eventually when you realize all along how much someone cares about others, it does something to you. I was really inspired by this teacher by observing him and working under him.

Indu Shanmugam