In two recent blog posts, I quoted responses from a teacher who thinks inclusion is a joke and one who thinks parents blaming schools for problems is comical. Over the past week a more positive response came in from a teacher who is trying hard to work with kids and parents, and has a particular understanding of the challenges we face. Writes special educator:
"Many SpEd teachers have special needs kids that we go home to at the end of the day. Please understand, I want to stay in touch with parents but I have one 45 min planning period, meetings before school & I'm a single parent & go home to my 4 kids, 2 of whom have disabilities, as soon as I regain enough sanity to walk in the house and greet them the way a mom should. I am exhausted. Mentally. Physically. Emotionally. I treat my students the way I want my own kids to be treated & parents the way I want to be treated by my kids' teachers. Not all teachers should be SpEd teachers. I have known some very mean-spirited, fairly stupid teachers who surely shouldn't be in SpEd. Listen to your kids. Listen for messages from me that I, and other teachers who have no tenure, are trying to tell you. Please do not betray my confidence. I would lose my job for telling parents such simple things as 'You should find out about the law.' Without tenure, I am unable to truly be your child's advocate."
I'd certainly be happier to have a teacher like that than one who thinks of my child as a lump of coal. And absolutely, I do want teachers to tell me what's really going on, even if I'll be unhappy to hear it, even (especially) if they're not supposed to. I want them to trust me, and to believe I'll keep their confidence. But those confidences are kind of hot potatoes, aren't they? You can't just sit on them, because injustice is being done, but you can't advocate for change without revealing how you came to know that thing you could only know if a teacher told you. Yet if you don't take quick and decisive action, you go from being the poor parent who doesn't realize to the cold-hearted parent who knows and does nothing, and then we're back to being judged by this guy again. I've never quite figured out how work that particular puzzle, and it's another thing that makes me glad my son is out of public school and into community college as of today, where as I understand it, nobody will be talking to me at all.
Have you found a way to right wrongs without naming names? Share in the comments, and tell teachers what you'd like them to know on the Readers' Respond page. (And if you do need to find out about the law, my FAQ on school and special needs can get you started.)
Photo by Terri Mauro