Thursday, September 6, 2012

Teacher vs Parent

I've had a pretty good start to the year so far.  I'm tired, but I'm not frustrated and I feel like I have a pretty good group of students.  That being said, I'm definitely looking forward to the weekend.  One of the things that occurred to me to today though, made me sad.

As a teacher, I regularly have students in my classes that have IEP's (individualized education plans for students that have a particular special need).  I always do my best to make sure I'm following those plans which can and do typically contain provisions like extended test time, preferential seating placement, etc.  When they include taking tests with assistance, I typically check with the student at the beginning of the year and see what their preference is and oftentimes in the past few years my students have opted to remain in the classroom and take their tests with the rest of the class.  I do try and check the suggestions a couple times throughout the year to make sure I'm doing what I should, but I don't always feel like I'm doing my best when it comes to those students because my attention is divided amongst so many other things during those 47 minutes.

Today, one of my students that has an IEP asked me something and I realized afterwards that while I gave her the same response I might have given any other student, I perhaps didn't give her the response that she needed.  Since being back at work post-Tera, I have to admit I've paid more attention to the accommodations of my special needs students and while I'm glad that I do, I'm also upset with myself for not feeling like I did enough before I had a personal connection to them.  Following the interaction with my student today I was left with a feeling of sadness.  Sadness that Tera could be a student in a regular classroom and that someone might not be able to provide her with the attention she needs because she doesn't learn the same as everyone else.

I have conflicting feelings at times when I hear parents say they want their child mainstreamed instead of in a special education class.  I obviously completely understand the benefits of mainstreaming special education students because it's the same type of reason we wanted Tera moved up to the next classroom from the infant room; so that she could be challenged and encouraged by her classmates to perform at the same level as them.  But I also know the realities of being a classroom teacher.  I have 47 minutes to take attendance, go over homework problems, encourage my students, teach them, give students who were absent their work, answer individual questions, and develop relationships with them.  We try and do good news each day to start class on a positive note and I try to end each class with something meaningful to help them retain what they just learned.  Those of course are things I plan with the best of intentions and sometimes I'm actually able to complete.  I feel like it's so easy for a student to fall through the cracks from day to day.  I do my best to make sure that doesn't happen regularly, but I'm aware that I don't know what's going on with each one of my 180 students each day and that's disconcerting when I think about what some of my students go through.  And it's disconcerting to know that someday Tera will be one in a class of maybe 20 or 30, instead of just ten; and that I'll have to wait for her to relate her day to me instead of getting a daily sheet recounting what she had for breakfast, lunch, snack, how long she napped, and what the highlights of her day were.

I'm not sure how I feel about balancing my teacher brain with my mom brain, but I don't see either of those things giving way anytime soon so I suppose I'll have to manage somehow.  I want to be a good teacher to my students and a good mom to Tera, but it seems like sometimes those two things cannot peacefully coexist on a daily basis. I suppose I'll just hope I have good days in both roles, accept the bad days, and hope that I survive the whole thing (okay, perhaps a tad over dramatic, but not entirely untrue...)

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