Imagine a day when you spilled coffee on the front of your shirt, jammed the copy machine, lost internet access, made several mistakes at work, accidentally insultedd a variety of people, burnt dinner, and washed a red shirt with your white. Would you consider the day a disaster? Maybe even a failure? I would. Maybe, like me, head to bed confident that tomorrow would be better. But what if tomorrow wasn't better? Nor the next day...nor the next...or the next...
Would you keep trying? How long would it take before you gave up, or became so angry and frustrated that you no longer believed tomorrow would be better. I don't think I would even make it a full year.
Now, imagine struggling with everything from getting dressed to eating breakfast to telling someone you love them to reading a simple sentence in a favorite book. These are the struggles of the students with significant cognitive and physical disabilities. The students that I have the privileged of teaching.
My students arrive each morning with smiles, excitement, and anticipation of the instruction and opportunities for success. they struggle to read, write, communicate, make friends, count, add, and carry the cafeteria tray without spilling. They never stop trying. They could easily consider each day a series of failed attempts. They could easily quit trying. Their families and teachers would understand. Afterall, the have tried for years to do something that their peers could do after only a couple of tries. They could be angry and frustrated. We would sympathize. But they don't.
Sure, they get frustrated and stop trying for a short while. But they always come back to the task. They try again, believing, this could be it. This could be the time they succeed. Today could be the day they write their name by themselves, answer a question in class correctly, read a sentence, make a friend, or even walk all the way to class by themselves. They are the bravest people I have ever met or could hope to meet.