Every parent wants only the best for their child. As a parent of a child with special needs, I follow a lot of boards on Facebook and other social media regarding advocacy for inclusion and appropriate supports within the school system. I am also a special education teacher.
Wearing both hats definitely puts a fresh perspective on things. Have there been times that I have been really frustrated and upset by things that have happened at school? Absolutely! However, last night I was in the process of falling asleep and was doing a mental checklist of all the things I had asked my students to accomplish before this morning and wondering if they had completed them since no one had emailed, texted, or Face Timed me for help in the evening. There was a track meet yesterday that some students were both excited and worried about and I was thinking about how they ran, wondering how excited they would be when they told me how they did this morning.
In no way am I the only teacher who thinks about each of their students as they drift off to sleep. Blog readers often read about how the teachers of students in poverty think about how their students. This is very true. However, it’s not the only situation that keeps us up at night. Socioeconomic status is just one concern we have. In addition to thinking about if students have had enough to eat, teachers think about whether or not their students took their studying suggestions, if they have healthy and appropriate friendships, and a myriad of other child and adolescent related issues. The list is truly endless.
There are always a few bad eggs, just like any other profession.
Most teachers choose the teaching profession just because they love kids. They love the look in a kids’ eyes when a concept “clicks.” They want to see happy and successful students in their room.
Why doesn’t this always happen? Sometimes there aren’t enough resources in the classroom. Sometimes there are so many paperwork and testing requirements placed upon the teacher they are overwhelmed. Sometimes those requirements are tied to their teacher evaluations and they don’t know or understand what this is going to look like with your child.
Sometimes the only thing the teacher needs is a little emotional and moral support coupled with some education about your child.
The teacher is there primarily because they want to see children experience success. However, we are human and we are not all fully trained in absolutely every potential issue that could arise in our careers. It’s the responsibility of the team, (parent team or IEP team) to work together to ensure that your child’s needs are met.
It’s hard to swallow sometime when you are working with a professional who isn’t experienced in your child’s needs because you have been with your child literally every step of the way, with each of their challenges and successes. No one knows your child better than you do. The general education teacher knows the curriculum and district and state expectations. The special education has a toolbox of ideas to help your child learn that curriculum in a manner appropriate for him/ her. The school psychologist understands your child’s cognitive profile. The administrators on your team understand the laws and there are some creative ways they can help your child be included in all sorts of school activities, so it’s important to be a team player.
The important piece of this is that each team member has a skill set that is integral to your child’s success. Yes, there are some teachers who are in this profession for the wrong reasons. However, the vast majority of teachers are in this profession because they mean well and they care. We are all human and sometimes there are things that we, as humans, don’t understand. That’s why there is an IEP TEAM. Together, we achieve more. Give the school team the benefit of the doubt until they absolutely prove you wrong, because playing well as a part of a team is always your best line of defense when advocating for your child.
If you are interested in some additional materials that may help support your child’s education, please check out the following link.