Recently I was made aware of a teacher in Mooresville, North Carolina who publicly shamed her special needs student. While the video went viral and multiple advocates weighed in on the video, I think that its important to bring up a very important REAL topic. Not ALL educators are created equal and NOT all educators are created to teach children with additional needs, however due to funding, budgets and LAWS made by individuals with little or no experience in this field (as parents, educators, or otherwise) our schools are changing. Most schools are only hiring those with dual certifications and in the end doing a disservice to themselves, their typical students and yes, to students who are disabled. This letter is to those who are willing to say "no, its not for me". We all have unique gifts, talents and skills and not everyone should work with kiddos like my own.
To The Teacher Willing to Know Your Limits,
Thank you. Yes, you, the one who got an education degree without a special needs endorsement. Thank you for realizing that you are not made to educate children like my own. Thank you for owning your own strengths, should they be math, science, social studies or even an enrichment topic but knowing that kids with special needs are not for you. As a mom of a disabled child, I honor, applaud and understand you. In fact, I thank you.
Let me tell you, in this day and age, you are brave. Truly brave. You have cut down on jobs for yourself. Perhaps others look at you in a light that isn't as favorable but to me, you are brave. Why? You realize that you cannot give my child what she needs and you own it. For you, I am grateful. I have seen teachers who are in positions of educating kids with special needs and its apparent when they don't want to be there. Its obvious to me as a parent and I am not in the classroom all the time so just think about the potential impact it could have on that child who is in fact disabled but still able to understand that you don't know how to manage their behaviors, work with their learning style or help them to succeed.
So many of us in life want to cover all our bases. We all want to people please and be who we are not. I have long been one of these people but as of late, its just not that important. I will be honest and tell you I never wanted to work with kids with special needs and somehow always found myself in their presence. Today, I know why and I do believe I have that knack but I wanted to deny it out of fear. If this is you, don't fear it, embrace it, heck even reach out to me but if its not you, continue to speak your truth.
Choosing to teach our children with extra needs is exhausting. Heck, teaching students is exhausting but when you throw in extra needs, limited mobility or speech and then the advocate mom that stands by their side, you are just asking for a load of work no 18 year old goes into school for, yet that is what Special Education Teachers and aides do each and every day.
As a parent of children with special needs, my expectation for a special needs child is so much more. I don't expect you to babysit. I don't expect you to just teach, I expect you to be my partner. I expect that you will work with me as we drive to give my child her greatest opportunity to succeed and its a lot. I know not all teachers can handle it nor should they be made to. I also promise all my daughters staff, I will give you all of me. Always. When I say "team", I am in!
So to you, the elementary education teacher, middle school teacher, high school teacher that isn't called to teach kids like mine, I want to thank you. Thank you for knowing your limitations before we all have a difficult time. Thank you for not letting a year go by when my child may have made strides with someone who wanted special education. I know my child may NOT be what you are looking for but I truly believe that there are other children that you will reach, empower and strengthen and your ability to share your own limitation is truly a representation of the character you hold.
As we embark on a new school year, I wish you well, I remind you to stay strong and I empower you to continue to know your limits...for education isn't the same for everyone nor is teaching.
A Mom Who Has One of Every Kind
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