Teaching can be one of the most rewarding careers. The joy of seeing a struggling student finally understand the lesson and engage in class comes along with being a teacher. Along with the bursts of happiness in the career, patience and a willingness to learn with the students is important for a teacher to have. Mrs. Diana Vela Rivera, a new teacher in the special education department, intends on employing her patient heart and kind attitude in and out of her T-3 classroom.
After years of teaching special education, Mrs.Rivera is familiar with what it takes to work with students with special needs. She said, “People who are flexible, friendly, and willing to work together are great in this department.” Flexibility is important in this field because there is a sense of unpredictability in the classroom. According to an SJU article, “Modeling adaptability is important because children with special needs often need to learn how to adapt to their surroundings based on their disability. A teacher who demonstrates this effectively teaches the child how to do so in different situations.” Friendliness is another quality a teacher in special ed needs to have to build a relationship with students and to maintain a kind classroom environment. A willingness to work together with either other teachers or other students can build trust between the student and the teacher.
Mrs. Rivera did not start out to be a special education teacher, but did not start out systematically but on a whim or calling instead. After working as a property manager for three years, she knew she wanted to do something different and work with teenagers. Mrs. Rivera went to an all special education school to get out at 3 pm. She began working with an eleventh grade girl reading at a second grade level. Then, she knew she wanted to do something in this field. She said, “The more I worked with her and the more she made progress–that was the best feeling ever and one of the biggest reasons I [stated] I love this population. I want to try and help them out.”
Mrs. Rivera has her Masters Degree in education with emphasis in digital teaching and learning. In college, she worked in the post office, and while working in the post office, she would participate in the American Read Program, which enabled her to go to different schools and work with students to develop their skills in reading. Although at this point in her life, she did not know what she wanted to be; in retrospect, this helped Mrs.Rivera develop the cognitive skills to work well with students who have learning disabilities.
Working in the special needs taught Mrs. Rivera to take her time in judging people, and she is willing to learn about the students and their possiblily complicated backgrounds. She said, “With Individual Education Program (IEP) and all the paperwork I do, I am able to learn more about the student, and then I know where they are coming from.” Her job has taught her patience, which has grown exponentially.
The familial environment at Charter Oak, is different from her past school, which was much bigger than CO. She likes how close the community is. Mrs. Rivera said, “I love being here. I am loving getting to know all the teachers.” She intends to stay here for as long as she can. Mrs. Rivera said, “ I want this to be home so I can grow relationships with students, and I think it would be fun to be here when [my students] graduate.”
A difficult aspect of this job is the amount of paperwork that has to be filled out and filed. Mrs.Rivera is teaching a wide range of subjects, which can be stressful because of the many different lesson plans that have to be done. Also, staying on top of all the different IEPs and maintaining communication with parents can be difficult.
Mrs. Rivera has an active lifestyle. In her free time, she likes to play soccer and softball, crochet and hike. She also likes to socialize with her friends and family. Her two-and-half year old Weimaraner also keeps her busy.
The CO community is excited to have Mrs. Rivera as a staff member and is looking forward to watching her grow and prosper in her career.
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