So, "on a whim" so to speak I went to a blogger's place who had mentioned she was a teacher in a comment at cheeseinmyshoe. I asked her, as a complete and utter stranger, if she had any insight on my earlier post, "I cried". Her response to me was so uplifting and insightful that I asked her permission to share it with all of you good folk.
Let me introduce Jacquie, she is a teacher, mother, and quilter. So, of course, I love her to death!
Here is her insight:
I don't know if I have any insight, but I do have an opinion. First, I obviously don't condone what happened to this child. I will tell you that one year as a 4th grade teacher I got my class list with 32 students. One of those students was a lovely child named P. P had Asperger's syndrome. I received a 5 minute talk with the special ed teacher and was told that he would have an aide with him for maybe a couple of hours each day. The aide was a mom from our community with no special education training or experience. I spent a year with P and spent most of my free time learning, reading, talking with his mom and doctors and any special education expert I could find. I was given a child I didn't know how to handle and wasn't trained to handle. For many reasons, lack of funding, lack of trained personnel (we were a very rural district), lack of local mental health resources etc etc. I was who P had to depend on. I will tell you it was very hard on the rest of the students in my class who were scared by his outbursts and confused by his behavior. I spent as much time working with the rest of the class to develop empathy for P and they learned skills to help him cope and learn. I was attacked, bruised, and loved by P. My best moment with him was when he was able to attend a performance of the Nutcracker without incident. He had never before been allowed on a field trip. It was a proud moment for all of us. I worried about P leaving my room at the end of the year. His family moved and left the district. Who would he have next year? I spent as much time as I could with his next teacher (in a different district) letting her know what I had learned and the benefit of my experiences with him. I still wonder and worry about him today. I also wonder if I did my best for him and for the other 31 kids that were my responsibility.
I have a very good friend who has taught severely mentally handicapped kids for almost 30 years. She has worked diligently in a system and society who doesn't understand the needs of her kids and parents. I talked with her the other day and she is spending one day a week with L (who has so many handicaps I can't list them all) so that his parents can have a day off each week. She is doing this out of the goodness of her heart, no charge, no strings. This family has already spent the equivalent of a private school college education on helping this child. He is 6. When to mainstream children is a tricky situation. Many times teachers are at the mercy of legislators that make rules and regulations the consequences of which they don't understand. Often we don't have the professional latitude nor the resources or personnel to do what is right and in the best interest of our students.
This teacher violated in my mind all sense of what is human decency. As a teacher I am sickened and saddened when I hear and read stories such as this.
I know there are folks in my profession that don't have the skills to do the job they have been hired for. Many are being put in situations they never imagined they would have to deal with.
There are many issues in education that need to be addressed as are there many things right with the system in our country. I have worked my entire career to develop and support competent, caring professionals and to establish a system that supports all children.
I have worked in the profession for 29 years and have heard more horror stories than I care to repeat. I have also seen countless professional educators who work tirelessly to teach children who are not their own, yet care about them like they are. My hope and prayer is that the public will one day understand that they are all our children: poor kids, minority kids, kids who are blind, kids who read when they are 3, kids who grow up with abusive parents, kids who don't behave like we would like them to...and we will pour resources into all schools and we will be able to honor the people who choose this profession.
As a last thought, another of my friends just took the job as a principal in a low achieving school. He has 23 openings and only 16 candidates and none for any of the math, science or special education openings. It isn't hard to understand how difficult our job is when we can't find quality people to do difficult work. Many times we have to take what we can get and work like dogs to develop them. I could go on. There are so many issues. Just know this, there are people out there who aren't crying, we're gritting our teeth and working our hearts out to make things better for kids in this country.
I hope this wasn't more than you wanted. It hurts me to the core to read stories such as this. It reflects on me and my profession.
Take care and have a good day,