Not many people know what I do for work. People in the field of education kind of know but even then, only the people in education and that live in New York City really know what it is that I do. The people I’ve met in the last few years that have since started following me on social media think I work strictly in the world of fitness. A friend I’ve made in the last year was shocked to learn I had a masters degree and don’t teach spin all day everyday. Yes I teach a lot of those but I consider fitness to be my (full-time) side job. My official title is Behavioral Therapist or Special Education Itinerant Teacher, or as we like to call it; SEIT. “Oh so you’re a teacher?” Actually, no. Yes I work with children, yes I teach them things but I don’t have a classroom. I get assigned a child with developmental delays, the amount of hours depends on the severity of the delay and then I work with them either at their home or in their school. The average SEIT sees 2-3 kids and typically covers 20-25 hours a week. Being a SEIT often means traveling all over the city from child to child. In the winter it can be exhausting but the job is flexible, pays well and can be extremely fulfilling. I bounced around the city for many years. I’ve seen classrooms of all types and dealt with teachers of all styles. Sometimes a classroom is welcoming and sometimes it can feel very lonely. The best schools are the ones in which the teachers treat me like a part of the team. Unfortunately there are some teachers that have very little interest in who I am and only care that I focus on my student as if to remind me I am a guest in their classroom. I always start the year off telling the teacher of my student’s particular needs and ask if they feel comfortable with me interacting with other students or if I should keep to my kid. You’d be surprised by how many schools want the SEITs to keep to themselves and talk only to their own assigned student. Those are the schools I dread going to. When I was a classroom teacher before I finished my masters degree, we had SEITs in our classroom that we loved having! My co-teacher and I loved when they helped out with all the kids even though they didn’t have to. We liked chatting with them and learning about their lives outside of work. Some of the greatest friends I have now were SEITs I oncehad in my classroom.
In my first 4 years being a SEIT, I never felt welcomed the way I would like to think I did when I was a teacher. That was however, until I stepped into Third Street Music School Settlement.
In September of 2016, one of my little guys was to start at a new school. In the summer leading up to the school year, I went to meet the teachers, discuss my guys needs and get a feel for the setting. From the very first step into the building, I knew this school had a good vibe and that this would be one school I would enjoy coming to everyday. From the first second, the teacher treated me like an equal and welcomed me as a member of the community. As the year went on I got very comfortable, the staff even turned to me for my professional advice in regards to other students in the school that may also benefit from special education services. By October I had made myself at home and was working diligently to get two other children services with the hope that I could take on their hours which would mean more time for me in this school. By April 2017 I had taken on 23 hours all at Third Street, living the SEIT’s dream. The following year I managed to increase the student’s hours and take on one more student, also at Third Street, giving me the most amazing and sought after SEIT schedule in all of the tristate area. Most SEITs schlepp from one school to the next, and here I was working 31 hours, four students, one school. AMAZING!
There have been schools in my past that are so miserable the minutes feel like hours and the summer can’t come soon enough. But here on East 11th street (ironically Third Street is actually on 11th street) my work felt less like work and I was not an outsider coming in to someones else’s classroom, it was my classroom too and though my main focus was always on my child, every student felt like my own.
That’s the thing about Third Street Music School though, it’s like a family and the building becomes your home. Like any family, there are personality clashes and the occasional disagreement. In my two years here, I’ve been witness to arguments, issues created and resolved, and of course, like in every school, good old gossip. I’ve watched little toddlers in pampers become big kids ready for Kindergarten. I’ve gotten to know the teachers, learned about their lives outside of school and even helped celebrate big events like bridal showers and big job promotions. I’ve even dealt with some personal stuff and lost my emotional cool and when it happened I was hugged so tightly without question or reservation, just honest love and support. Like a true family.
The teachers at Third Street are all so incredibly different, each offering their own unique personality to their teaching approach but one thing they all have in common is their compassion for children and that energy shines.
Third Street is a community and it welcomes everyone.I’ve seen families pass by with teenage children to come give hugs to the teachers that once changed their diapers. I’ve seen grown adults bring their infants to the school to meet the people that were once their preschool teachers. That’s what Third Street does. It creates a home to which you can always come back to. It makes the itinerant teacher not want to be so itinerant. I’m so thankful for my time here and want all of the teachers and staff to know how much I appreciate them, both professionally and personally. I couldn’t think of a better place to wrap up my time as a SEIT in NYC. I feel sad to say goodbye but one of the many things I’ve learned from Third Street is that no matter how far I may go, no matter how much my life changes, I can always come back here and we are a family. We are all a family under one sky. *clap clap