Wednesday, September 2, 2009

And So it Begins

I was good yesterday. First day of school and I was not the least bit sad to not be in my old room figuring it all out. Don't get me wrong. I am still really angry and disturbed by what is going on in my old program but not my deal any longer. I am even more clear about my new purpose and will embrace my administrative license courses with rigor and unwavering intent.

Ignorance can be bliss and I could use a touch of that as mom of two special needs kiddos. Night before last night was open house so they could visit their rooms and unload their supplies. I wish I was ignorant about what it takes to be a quality special education teacher. Movie Man (big brother) has an LD teacher who is a lovely lady, but in the throes of a personal crisis. Superman (little brother) is new to this school, has an AUT teacher new to the school. Nice enough, but has a poor reputation in the district, although I have been pleasantly surprised and pleased thus far. What is working for me is that I have a good reputation as a special ed teacher in our district and I think my kids' teachers will do their best as they know I know.

I sound like an intolerant, judgmental know it all. I am. But not in a bad way! Really. I am a super star EBD teacher. I am current, I change as the kids need me to. What I did last year was not what I did 5 years ago. Most special educators are doing it all the same way they did it when they started... a hundred years ago. EBD kiddos are no longer only the naughty boys that need some behavior mod to change disruptive and self destructive habits. Today's version is comprised mostly of kids wearing some sort of mental illness on their sleeves. Autism has invaded families and schools at astronomical rates. Why in the world have states and universities not invested in developing an Autism license? Why are districts still trying to put these kiddos in EBD programs? Their needs are profoundly different. The two don't mix. And what in the world are district special education administrators thinking when they dump those two types of kids on some poor teacher and expect it to work?

As a mom of special needs kids, I want the best running my kids' programs. I want the top of the line. I want that in their classroom teachers as well. As a colleague/fella teacher, I want to work with top of the line flexible thinkers, seekers of best practice, excellent communicators, strong advocates for kids and their families, and creative problem solvers. I want to know that what I do is appreciated by my administrators and that they are knowledgeable enough to guide me, insist I use best practice, and are very aware of what my colleagues are doing and insist the same from them.

Mediocrity seems to reign and I don't blame the public one bit for not giving us our due props.

On a another note. I go for my final advisement appointment today in preparation for starting my classes next week. I cannot wait to ask all these questions in class. I will push every other student and my teachers to address this very basic issue. How to insist (through gentle but firm nudging and staff development) that all the teachers develop the very best programs to meet the needs of their special needs students. I am interested to know at what point in my administrator license journey I will lose sight of this and become as complacent as my current special ed leadership. I want to lead by example and be in classrooms helping, understanding, shaping, encouraging those teachers interested in doing their best. And for those that are not, I want to compassionately guide them right out of education.

1 comment:

  1. Why in the world have states and universities not invested in developing an Autism license? I've asked the same question. 8 years ago, an administrator told me Autism was overtaking LD as the most common disability in schools. So...when do we see autism as a specialty? When will DPI require training in autism? I know, there's no answer. We may need to make it happen (gulp) ourselves.


Although I am dangerously opinionated, I am a flexible thinker and welcome your thoughts.