Working with kids is what I do, and if you haven’t read my previous post ‘Dear Shitty Parents‘ – please head on over and read it…like it, comment on it!

Recognizing that young people are like plants is part one of my job.  Each child comes in a different shape and size, with different abilities and preferences. Their Microsystems or ‘Soil‘ is their family, peers, school, church and access to the health system.  Extended family, mass media, local politics and policies, social services and parents’ job are the Exosystem or the “weather and animals” that effect the plant.  There are two other systems and I won’t bore you to death with the Socioecological System of Resiliency.  (Whoa, I’m putting my diploma to good use here!!)

Anyway, back to the young people are like plants and soil topic.

Working in the education system, I see a lot of kids who have been planted in ‘good soil’ and also in ‘bad soil’.  8 times out of 10, it’s the child who comes from the bad soil that I am paired with.  Their parents aren’t able to care for them, may be substance abusers and physically abuse, sexually abuse or neglect their child.  Sometimes, it’s all of those.  That’s where people in my profession come in.

To me, educational assistants, are fertilizer.  So what does that mean?  Well many of the students we work with are unable to advocate for themselves, so we go to bat for them.  We request training, meetings and specialized equipment to ensure student success…in short, we take that crappy soil, and try to turn it into something that can allow that child to grow, branch out and flower.

SIDE NOTE: Before I start to get pissy comments saying ‘My kid has an EA and comes from a good home!’  Yes, I know, there are children who require an EA because of developmental difficulties.  However, more and more frequently, EA’s are being paired with the child who is referred to as ‘behavioural’….which is a nice way of saying “They kick the shit out of teachers, administrators and other students and are otherwise undiagnosed.”  Meaning, yes, I understand that a child with a diagnosis may have some behavioral difficulties -but the key word there is DIAGNOSED. 

Honing in on a child’s resiliency is an uphill battle a lot of the time – especially when it comes to the children with a poor home life.  That soil this child is coming from makes my job difficult, but every once in a while, you see that even the most fragile of plants can grow from the worst conditions. And that my friend, makes my job all the worth the effort.

If you want to hear from a person outside the profession, check out Gary Direnfeld.

“The EA is the system the educational system has put in place to enable the challenged students’ participation in education, to facilitate learning, to in turn facilitate later autonomy, independence and social functioning.” Gary Direnfeld