Tuesday, July 30, 2013

One Big Happy Family

familyWhen I first started my career as a special education teacher, the field was still new and in its infancy. It wasn’t widely accepted by many of those in the profession. As with all new things, there were skeptics and people opposed to trying something new. The first few years I felt like the outside looking in and not accepted by many. My classrooms were always the furthest away from the general population and for many years, I was in a portable in the back of the school. It was as if I was out of sight out of mind. But I didn’t mind because I was doing what I loved.

Now fast forward about 40 years and it is a whole different world.

Now special education is widely accepted. In fact, in my last school, it was sincerely welcomed. I had teachers who came to me for advice about working with students with disabilities in their classroom. Some wanted help with students that were just having difficulties even though they were not labeled as having a disability. With all the years of experience I had under my belt, I was able to give some suggestions that they could try and many times they were able to help the student become successful.

With RTI in schools now and many students getting special education services in inclusion classrooms, special education teachers are considered in much higher esteem than when I first started.

It warms my heart to see that now we are one big happy family. I was afraid that with all this No Child Left Behind and testing, that many would end up resenting students with disabilities. Instead, I think because there are so many in general education classes, that teachers throughout the school realize the disservice we are giving to our students. Instead of blaming the students, they are finding ways to support and help these students.

If you are a new teacher, I hope you are tolerant and open minded to other teachers who are not in your field of experience. I hope you learn to look at other’s strengths and see how they can enhance your own strengths. But don’t just be a taker. Offer your strengths but don’t be offended if they aren’t taken. It is enough that you put it out there. And don’t feel like that you don’t have any because you are a new teacher. I am learning so much from the young teachers in my graduate class!

If you are an experienced teacher, be willing to listen to new ideas. Find ways to adapt them to your class and possibly make your lessons better. Continue to accept teachers who may be teaching a different subject and value their worth. I thank all of the teachers I worked with at my last school who made me realize that I had a lot to offer and still learn. It was this group that made me realize we were one big happy family.

How do you see the other teachers in your school? Do you see them as a separate entity or are you one big happy family? Why? Do you think it should be this way? Why? Please share.

Image: 'Free Daddy and His Little Shadow Girls+at+The+Skate+Park+Creative+Commons'
Found on flickrcc.net

1 comment:

Sioux said...

We ARE one big family. Always happy? No, not quite. However, the unhappiness is (right now, for me) not due because of the special ed teachers in our building but because this is the third year in a row we have new special ed teachers to work with the students.

The administration overloads and abuses (workload-wise) and neglects the teachers (not responding to their emails), the teachers are forced to request a transfer, and the next year, along comes a new batch of resource teachers.

How about some consistency? I'd like to see the same people at the table for a few years in a row, instead of new faces every year.

Maybe THEN I could say we are one big happy family...