Three years ago it’s likely I sat on a beach in the Bahamas, drinking rum and coke, night swimming, and sleeping in a bed that I never had to make. Today, I sat on a table in an elementary school with a room full of science fair projects, a fish that plays dead, and ten kids that fill my bucket (nod to SLP) every day.
I am a Special Education Teacher.
It’s madness… The most rewarding, challenging, upsidedown, never running on schedule, fall apart, laugh your ass off, never catch up, do it again the next day with a fresh smile, stumble through it, get it right, make it work, and the whole plan changes whether you like it or not, stressful fucking job you’ll ever love to do, even when it’s awful. Because it’s almost always awesome!
If You’re a Special Needs Parent,
I’m the person who loves your kid the most right after you (and maybe grandma). Some of you see me as a partner, some of you fight me about every step I take, and some of you really don’t communicate with me at all. It’s all cool. Well, the fighting me could stop, but I know that it won’t. It’s still cool. We’re too many personalities with too many high-stress lives interacting through the wild frontiers of public education. We’re physically tired, emotionally drained, and whether we want them to be or not, our conversations are always heavy.
Spot is My Best Friend.
Her story with special needs parenting unfolded as my journey into special needs teachering began. It was a kismet-ty kind of thing in a lot of ways.
The idea of
The Special Needs Fandom
she’s putting out there speaks to the way I feel about everybody I work with—teachers, service providers, parents, even the kids themselves. Actually, especially the kids themselves! Who isn’t a fan of those turkeys?! I’ve never been swept up by any sporting event to the level of fanaticism that I feel when I hear a kid say, “ah-haaaaaa!” after a long session of teaching a new concept. Like a bolt of electricity every time. I think that’s where my fandom for the other players in this game is found—in that shared experience of getting through to a kid.
Education and Parenting are Both Performing Arts
when you think about it, really. We are artists. Often unappreciated ones. We are all busting our asses for these kids with little to no recognition. That long, horrible week that a parent spent fighting the health care system to authorize tests that any moron knows the kid needs? That same week a SPED teacher was locked in a standoff with some asshole of a principal to get the most basic of resources that any moron also knows the kid needs. An SLP and a social worker were staring at caseloads of 50+ wondering if what they do with kids in their limited time even has any impact. It does, by the way. I’m willing to bet that we all drank little more than we should that week and maybe lost our emotional shit somewhere inappropriate.
I Hope We Remembered to be Fans of Each Other
because I know that we all found those electric moments with kids that week.
All of you out there that touch the lives of special needs kids—I see what you're doing! I love what you're doing! What you are doing is important! I am Your #1 Fan. — Ms. Eff
Image Credit: S.J. Freeze
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