True Confessions of a Special Education Teacher
Each morning, parents wake, dress and ready their children for the school day. They send sleepy children off to the teachers and staff of schools all over the world. At the end of the day, some students leap off of the bus eager to share anecdotes about their day with their waiting mommy or daddy. But, what if your baby wasn’t able to share their day with you? So, for those of you wondering, here is what it is like to be the “Sped-ucator”.
Shhhhhh! I’m not a teacher!
Nope! I’m not a teacher. I am a teacher-nurse-therapist-booboo fixer-finder of missing things-waitress-mom-playmate-friend. That’s right, we do it all. From teaching social skills by modeling conversations and giving one-on-one feedback to medical procedures, very little escapes the special education teacher. So, when we are not monitoring blood sugar, serving special gluten and lactose free meals, or consoling a child who is having a melt down over a missing sock, we do our utmost to educate your child in the academic things of school.
2. The 3 R’s. Reading, wRiting, and Real-life.
Sure, special education teachers (well, all teachers) know the importance of math, reading, writing, science, and the other key subjects. But, so much of what I do is building people. I do my best with the academic subjects, all the while interjecting mini life-lessons on empathy, life skills, and thinking for oneself. So, if you walk in and we are all on our hands and knees looking at a bug that is crawling along the floor, do not panic! We may be talking about it’s habitat (science), how far it crawled in the last ten minutes (math), words to describe its hard outer shell (English), how to get rid of it and its family (exterminations are needed in real life!), or whether or not it is edible (to eat or not to eat - another life skill!).
3. I do not treat all of the children the same.
If I did treat all of my students the same, that would not be fair. Children all are so unique and varied in their personalities, behaviors, and learning styles. What works like a charm for one student, does not work at all for another. Giving tough love to one kid is great, but the next needs a more maternal touch. Then there is always the kid who just needs to be given the facts, no fuss no muss. This goes for behavior strategies, academics, social skills, and self-esteem. People with children call this good parenting. People in special education call this differentiation.
4. Most importantly, I don’t have 2 children.
I have twelve. I gave birth to two and have adopted ten more into my heart. All of the things, both glorious and gross, could not happen without love. So, when I get teary eyed because your baby just said my name for the first time (after two years of being his teacher) or am extremely disappointed in that questionable choice your daughter just made, it comes from love. I think about your babies at night in my quiet time. I worry about them during illness. I feel their struggles when learning a new skill. I cheer their effort and successes. Simply put, I love them. Thank you for giving me the honor of sharing your children with me.