Teachers are People Too
Shocking, right? Listen to any special ed parent and they will have some IEP horror stories. It’s what propagates the us vs. them tension and makes it so terrifying to enter the system. The biggest gift I was given when Aidan first started school was not the advocacy class that got me pumped up to take on the system, though that was helpful. My biggest gift was my best friend. We met in our college days and she grew up to be a special educator and I grew up to be a special education parent. She gave me the gift of perspective. She let me know when my frustrations were valid and how to effectively address the issues. Not that my IEP team knew it, but she was a gift to them as well. She let me know when something was simply not realistic. I could hear things from her that I couldn’t hear from the team because of our relationship.
This Christmas I yet again spent time with my sister-in-law who is also a special educator. She adores Aidan, because, well, he’s adorable. Sometimes we talk shop and she’s already on board to help me with Aidan’s transition plan when he gets old enough. What really got me this year were the stories she told around the dinner table. She was simply sharing her life, her work, her joy, completely unrelated to Aidan. It all sounded so familiar. There was a ton of humor in her stories, partially because she’s funny, but mostly because she lives in the “if you don’t laugh you’ll cry” world. She was so excited to share about her students’ accomplishments, knowing they’d been hard won. She acknowledges the hardships and understands that sometimes the best a parent can do is not quite ideal for making a great learning experience, but gosh, it’s the best a parent can do. She griped about parents because we’re sometimes a pain in the butt, and let’s face it, we gripe about teachers. The thing is, taking out the specifics of her students, it could have been me telling her stories….humor, struggle, victory, pride.
So why again do teachers and parents have such difficulty working as a team? Is it the money, bureaucracy, power struggle? At the end of the day, I believe that we’re all in it to help our children.