As a special education teacher, I always feel like I serve two masters. One of general education and one of special education. I feel like I am constantly balancing between doing everything required by general education and my campus administration and everything required by special education and the district administration. I am the only teacher on my campus for a classroom like mine, so I am like an island. I look forward to and seek out opportunities to collaborate with other special education teachers. It is difficult for general education teachers to relate to what I do all day long. My students have significant deficits and even though they are chronologically 11 to 14, they may be developmentally between 2 years old to 8 years old. Sometimes, I think they believe I am a babysitter, which is insulting. I did have a coworker ask me and I quote, “Can your students learn?” Needless to say, I was floored. I did have a professional response, all the while thinking “Are you kidding me?”
Fortunately, I am in a large school district with a great deal of resources available to me and my students. There are also other special education teachers with classrooms just like mine and district instructional specialists who are available to collaborate with.
My challenges rest in the fact that our time is limited and most of us are stretched thin with all that is demanded of us. Even if those demands are sometimes self-imposed because we care so much about the success of our students.