When you close your classroom door and begin teaching, it's a very private, lonely thing. It's you up against 20-30 students, and your mission (if you choose to accept it) is to entertain and cajole and comfort and inspire as you teach.
If you're the only adult, it gets lonely in there. You yearn for a peer, so you can exchange knowing looks across the room. It's great to have a colleague to get some feedback from.
In my class, I am fortunate to have Mr. W. He spends most of his day in room 12 helping out one student, but in actuality, helps out all the kids in the class and helps me out immensely.
Working with students who are difficult to manage can be exasperating, yet I've never seen Mr. W lose his cool. He remains calm at all times. He has the utmost respect for the students, and it shows in his body language and tone and in his patience.
Some educators are reluctant to have other educators push into their classroom but I have always enjoyed it. It's fun to bounce ideas off each other. And it's great to have another grown up who "gets it." (For example, the other day we were brainstorming situations that frightened us, for story ideas. One student, when asked, "What scares you?" she said, "My dad's taser." Mr. W. and I each raised an eyebrow at each other, and the discussion continued.
Mr. W. is only a special education substitute. When the regular special ed assistant returns from her maternity leave (and she is phenomenal too; I tried to convince her to have her baby, and we could set up a little nursery in my room. For some reason, she didn't respond the way I would have liked...) we are hoping he can stay. There is certainly a need for both of them.
When he walks into the room, a bunch of kids always are clamoring for him to "Sit by me!" He has handled every situation that is thrown his way with grace and wisdom. Recently, he was able to speak to an angry family when he (unbeknownst to me) sang my praises and "got real" with the family. After meeting with him, their attitude had completely changed (for the better).
If you are a teacher, and would like a Mr. W. in your classroom, go to www.mr.w.com. Apparently, along with the 2nd job he has in the evening, he also has been in such demand with teachers, he has set up a lab in his basement and is cloning himself. Good luck! There are so many backorders, he cannot keep up with the shipping requests...