I Spoke Too Soon

The second day of school, I was working with The Man, helping him finish an interior painting project because I have not much else going on right now.  Mid-morning, I got a phone call from The Boy’s school.

It was The Boy’s special ed teacher, calling because he was refusing to do his work… a student interest inventory in math.   I told her he had done one for homework, and logically, may not want to do the same thing all over again.  After we hung up, I felt a ball of oh-no-did-she-really-just-call-me-about-something-she-should-totally-be-able-to-handle form in my stomach.  I felt like I may have been really wrong to feel relived last week.

She called later that evening sounding a bit panicked, listing her concerns:

  • There was an unplanned fire “drill” on the first day (something was smoking in the kitchen), and his teachers were concerned about his safety during the drill, because he was pacing.
  • He left the classroom at one point during the day, without permission.
  • His social studies teacher thinks it isn’t beneficial for him to be in her class because he is not doing the work, and should go to the resource room for that class.
  • He draws all the time and is not following instructions.

These were my thoughts that coalesced that evening at the conclusion of the phone call…

  • There was an unplanned fire drill and he didn’t freak out, have a meltdown, or run for the hills.  He paced.  That’s clearly a win.
  • He left the classroom without permission only onceAnother win.
  • He isn’t doing the work in social studies on the second day of schoolAnd?…  He didn’t have ESY this year, this is par for the course! 
  • He draws all the time in class, and isn’t following instructions…  Welcome to my world.

I know not all kids with autism are alike, but I would expect experienced educators to have a bit more of an understanding of the common obstacles to learning for students with autism.  I did provide multiple copies of his IEP/Testing packet that includes a rather extensive narrative from his previous teacher about how to get him to participate and do work.  The autism specialist, his special ed teacher and I did meet last week, when I talked at length about these things.

You have to have some competency, and if you don’t, you have to use the resources available to you, before you call me in the middle of class asking what you should do.

I didn’t make any friends when I emailed all and sundry in the special ed department and administration stating that he needs an aide, and only has one in one of his general ed classes.  Because of that email, though, the county autism specialist spent a day with The Boy and his special ed teacher, and gave her plenty of strategies to use.  Since then, I’ve been trying to smooth things over, but this is not going to be easy.  And they are going to get quite used to my face, voice, and the “ping!” of my emails…

Teacher Appreciation

If you weren’t aware, this week is teacher appreciation week.  And I have a few things to say about teachers – a few blog posts-worth.  I’ll start with this…

My HomeworkTeachers work hard.  I know because I am one.  I also know because I watch others do it, and because I know my own son.  I remember my friends as students from my own time in school, and I have been immersed in the culture of education for the past 33 years.  I have also come to realize that teaching is one of the most difficult gigs out there.  I have only recently learned this from speaking to colleagues who have worked in other sectors before teaching (and some after teaching, as well).  And I can tell you that it has only gotten harder as the years have gone by.

Teachers, lately, have started verbalizing how difficult the job is, primarily because the demands have increased while the rewards have decreased.  And there has been considerable backlash.  No one goes into teaching because they get summers off (because we don’t, really) and will make loads of money, but neither should teachers qualify for public assistance, yet they do.  Neither should they have their names printed in the local paper, labeled “ineffective” based on their students’ test scores, yet they do.  Teachers are sometimes expected to produce miracles, and when they don’t they are vilified.

I consider myself a good teacher, and I don’t think it’s conceited to say so.  One knows when one is good at one’s job.  Notice I didn’t say “great”.  But over my career, I have been called a racist, a “favoritist”, I have had countless parents berate me over the phone, swear at me, and question me on why I didn’t let her daughter fill out her birthday invitations in class, or why I was upset that their son threw pencils at my office door.

Those aren’t typical days, but increasingly I am incredulous at  the things we deal with, from all sides.  It’s a really hard job.  And parents who really know their children usually get it.  It’s too bad so many don’t have a clue who their own children are (“My son doesn’t lie!”).

So take a moment this week, and think about the people who have taught you, and the people who are teaching the children of today.  Send them good thoughts and/or prayers that they will continue to have the strength to do the job they do, because that’s what they really need, so much more than the trinkets from the dollar store, and the cookies.  They need your support in the classroom, in the community, and at the polls.  They sacrifice so much and work so hard for our kids, and will never be appreciated enough for doing so.

Teacher Appreciation

If you weren’t aware, this week is teacher appreciation week.  And I have a few things to say about teachers – a few blog posts-worth.  I’ll start with this…

My HomeworkTeachers work hard.  I know because I am one.  I also know because I watch others do it, and because I know my own son.  I remember my friends as students from my own time in school, and I have been immersed in the culture of education for the past 33 years.  I have also come to realize that teaching is one of the most difficult gigs out there.  I have only recently learned this from speaking to colleagues who have worked in other sectors before teaching (and some after teaching, as well).  And I can tell you that it has only gotten harder as the years have gone by.

Teachers, lately, have started verbalizing how difficult the job is, primarily because the demands have increased while the rewards have decreased.  And there has been considerable backlash.  No one goes into teaching because they get summers off (because we don’t, really) and will make loads of money, but neither should teachers qualify for public assistance, yet they do.  Neither should they have their names printed in the local paper, labeled “ineffective” based on their students’ test scores, yet they do.  Teachers are sometimes expected to produce miracles, and when they don’t they are vilified.

I consider myself a good teacher, and I don’t think it’s conceited to say so.  One knows when one is good at one’s job.  Notice I didn’t say “great”.  But over my career, I have been called a racist, a “favoritist”, I have had countless parents berate me over the phone, swear at me, and question me on why I didn’t let her daughter fill out her birthday invitations in class, or why I was upset that their son threw pencils at my office door.

Those aren’t typical days, but increasingly I am incredulous at  the things we deal with, from all sides.  It’s a really hard job.  And parents who really know their children usually get it.  It’s too bad so many don’t have a clue who their own children are (“My son doesn’t lie!”).

So take a moment this week, and think about the people who have taught you, and the people who are teaching the children of today.  Send them good thoughts and/or prayers that they will continue to have the strength to do the job they do, because that’s what they really need, so much more than the trinkets from the dollar store, and the cookies.  They need your support in the classroom, in the community, and at the polls.  They sacrifice so much and work so hard for our kids, and will never be appreciated enough for doing so.