For Exceptional Parents, Teaching the Teacher Is Not so Far Fetched
Your student has been in school now for almost three months. By now, teachers should have a pretty good idea how to teach your special child; and they do. Still, it is an ongoing learning process and parents of exceptional children might find plenty of opportunities to work with the teacher for the optimum learning experience.
So much to do
I have often witnessed many parents becoming increasingly frustrated around this time of year. Some assume that by now, the teacher should know everything there is to know about their particular student. We often forget the teacher is also in the learning stage and many educators have a very large student caseload. These teachers try to understand each child’s learning style and idiosyncrasies, but can get so bogged down in paperwork and meetings — and are still expected to teach! This is the life of a special education teacher: teach, paperwork, meetings, conferences, teach, and so on and so forth. It is a vicious circle. If it sounds like I am making excuses for these teachers, I’m not. But as someone who has had the opportunity to work in a special education department and raise a special education child at the same time, it is important for parents to understand the administrative challenges.
So little time
Ironically, this is one of the best times to become an ally to your child’s teacher. While the teacher may feel overworked, he or she might welcome any positive feedback. The teacher will most likely be focused on the entire class and will ultimately be planning for future lessons. They will be extremely busy. Parents can use this time to their advantage because teachers will need any and all help they can get. I am a firm believer that teachers want to do a good job with their students, but sometimes need a little bit of help. Let’s face it, we all need assistance in any type of job we do. Teachers are no different.
No time to waste
Parents can assist the teacher by being available and making sure the student has all the needed supplies to do the work. Communication is such a necessary function in this department. Help the teacher to understand your child’s moods, behaviors and challenges. Parents might take that for granted but teachers may not be able to hone in on certain moods right away. Use email to your advantage and check with the teacher at least weekly to see how your child is doing and answer any questions. You are your child’s best advocate.
This is not a time for power struggles and “he said, she said.” No, this is about working together for the good of the goal — to provide the best learning environment for the student. Keep in mind that we are all learning together.
Swallow your pride
So, as angry as you want to get when you feel the goals or accommodations are not being met, remember your role; to educate the teachers. Anything we can do to make their life easier would most likely find a welcomed friend.
C.C. Malloy is a disability advocate and steadfast supporter of special needs children. Any information here should not be considered legal advice and counsel should be sought for personal educational guidance. For additional support, please visit her website, Bizigal's Exceptional Blooms.