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Readers Respond: What Would You Like Special Educators to Know?

Responses: 13


In a recent article, I outlined eight things that parents would like special educators to know. Now it's your turn. What would you like special-education teachers -- or any school personnel -- to understand about you, your child, and your family? Share your thoughts.

Good Intentions Don't Make an IEP

Sure, I know you want to make me happy, and it's nice to see that you hear what I'm saying, and that you can suggest things that I agree will help out my child. But when you prove over and over again that the school does not have the staff or the resources to provide these services, please quit suggesting it just to make me happy, and let's work on some realistic goals that will both work for my child, and the school has the ability to provide.
—Guest Sharon

You are affecting the lives of many!

You may or may not realize the extent of the effect you may have on not only my child, but also his entire "cheerleading team," or the people who care about him: his siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, family friends, etc. When you take extra time with my child, or praise his effort, or offer supportive advice, or simply make him feel "good," or "smart," or "capable," or "happy," the effect you have goes way beyond my child. Your kind words of encouragement today will be repeated and reported to me, and to everybody who loves my child. Your actions, your words, your time & energy will be appreciated by so many people, most of whom you've never even met. And, in our family, these folks are keeping you in their prayers, thanking God for blessing our child with you as his teacher, and asking God to bless you in your life. To sum it up, you affect way more than just my child. you really are having a lasting impact on the lives of many people. You will be remembered by many!
—Guest MJ

Thank You!!!!

To all the educators that have had an impact on my daughter's life so far....Thank You! She has always been fully included (with a 1:1) but gets individual services where needed. I have the greatest respect for all teachers...especially those who have been open-minded to having a child with down syndrome in their class. I truly believe in inclusion and I wish all of you could get all the support you need.
—Guest Marjorie

Teachers are on the front line

Parents fail to realize no one would become a special needs teacher unless they truly cared about these children. I believe special needs teachers are the most verbally abused professionals, other than prison guards! Parents need to know most teachers' hands are tied by their corporations policies or instructions. The teacher is the liason between the two parties and is abused by each side.

Leaving the profession

I am a special education teacher who was a single parent with a child who has special needs long before I went into this profession. I took the time to not only obtain a full credential but a M.A. in the field. Within the next year or two, I will be changing careers and going into behavior analysis. I need to be where the focus is with the family and the child rather than the district and the scores. I greatly appreciate those of you who have given the privlage of teaching your child. Often your child has taught me. Also, for those of you who struggled with the many challenges that you face, I thank you for trusting me with your most precious gift. For all of the others who left my students out of the field trips plans, asked me to lie at IEP meetings, talk about the students and parents like they were dirt and overall were more concerned about their own career then they were about students: your day will come.

I'm so thankful for you

I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to David's "staff" for the extra effort you have taken to accommodate his needs. It is wonderful how his IEP team communicates and works like a well oiled machine. Our family is so blessed to be in a small school district with a small student population and a staff that truly cares. A million thank yous just isn't enough.
—Guest 2x2funoops

Regular Education teachers

What Regular Education teachers want special needs parents to know: 1. don't alway assume that you have to be on the defensive. 2. we care about your child and usually devote more time to them than the rest of our reg. ed. children 3. managing a class with reg. and sp ed children is not easy--we have to meet the needs of everyone's child, not just the children with IEP's 4. your child is an asset to our classroom and the regular ed children. we know how important it is that they are included, for everyone's sake. 5. realize that the strategies that work at home in a one-on-one situation may not work in our classroom with 17 + other children. 6. most of us have worked with many special needs children, and although you are an expert on your child, we are not coming into the discussion blind. 7. we understand your child is the most important member of our classroom in your eyes. please understand how hard even small adjustments can be when managing a class full of children.
—Guest bbfife

Behavior is Communication

My kid might seem like he's BAD. But he's trying to tell you something about what's going on with him. We as parents are working to get you expert help in interpreting this communication (in the form of a behaviorist). Listen to what the experts tell you. Try to put your ego aside. Just because your punitive methods work with other kids, doesn't mean they'll work with this one (trust us, we know). Also, know that you may be arriving into a situation that has already deteriorated. We try to support those on the front lines and lobby for resources. But know that sometimes your boss, or your boss's boss is the one who is throwing you under the bus, not me. *I* know that the problem is the design of the program, the training of the staff, and the resources available, but they want to make it about you. I'm trying. PS: If you restrain my child repeatedly without implementing the behavior plan, I'm going to start being ok with you going under the bus. Just saying.
—Guest mamacate

And the reverse...

What special educators would like parents to know: 1. I am objective. As special educators, we understand that parents love their children and see them through the eyes of a parent, and that parenting comes with a myriad of emotions. Please remember, while you know your child better than anyone, it may be worth listing to what an objective third party observes. 2. Please whisper before you shout. We understand that you may have had bad experiences with special education, but please, don't come charging in with advocates and angry letters before you've made the simple step of calling us and simply asking for the changes you want. 3. I am a person, not an Entity. Yes, I know, sometimes we feel like The School. Please remember, we are people, and we feel the same stress and discomfort surrounding a disagreement as any person does. Try to approach disagreements with a teacher the way you approach them with a neighbor or friend, not with an anonymous corporation.

It is not personal

I do not ask for extra help (aside from general ed) for my special education child in order to insult you, in order to imply you are doing something wrong, or because I think you or your classroom is lacking in any way. I know my child needs individualized help and I am looking for the best solution for MY child. Please don't get angry when I suggest he needs individual help in the subjects that have been tough for him for years, or tell me that you have had "success with other ADHD children in the past" and think that you are "working for my son" or doing anything constructive.
—Guest amom

Be positive

No matter what my child is failing at, he is still my well loved child. Tell me positives about him even if it is he has a beautiful smile. Doing that will keep your attitude hopeful and positive too.
—Guest irene

Prizes are not the best motivators

Children feel successful when they are able to complete a task. As a result, they feel good about themselves and in effect it boosts their desire to learn. Extermal motivators such as prizes, i.e., toys, pencils, food treats, etc., placate rather than instill the value and sense of doing a job well done. The focus shifts to getting the prize.

I am still here.

In three months, when the interest in jotting down notes to keep me updated is gone, I am still here, counting on you to let me know how I can help you and my child. Even if you have everything under control, I would like to know that you remember my promise to be ready when you call.
—Guest sylrayj

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