Tag Archives: special needs

The Results of State Testing

Tomorrow begins state testing. My 9-year-old students will come to school and sit for hours to take a test that is not remotely reflective of what they know, who they are, or what they are capable of achieving.

So in honor of these torturous, painful, anxiety-inducing tests that my young students have to suffer through and I have to watch them suffer through, I quit my job.

Hah, just kidding!

That’s not why I quit.

It makes me feel pretty good about my decision, though.

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Ok yeah it’s a little bit why I quit.

 

 

 

Hello? 

Today in school we gave a practice state exam. I took the kids with special needs to a separate, less distracting location to take their tests. 

Kid: “Miss Emily, is it true that all the smart kids take their test in the classroom, and all the dumb kids go to a different room with you?”

Me: “What!? NO. Absolutely not. Taking your test in a different room has NOTHING to do with your intelligence. You are all VERY smart. Everyone needs different things in order to do their best work and be able to focus, that’s all.”

Kid: “Are you sure it’s not because we’re dumb?”

Me: “I promise. In fact, used to have testing accommodations when I was a kid. Do you think I’m smart?!”

Kid: (no answer) 

Me: “Hello?”

Kid: “Oh, yes– of course, you’re very smart! Sorry, I just spaced out for a second.”

Aaaaand that’s why you’re in here. 

  

Sometimes I Have to Explain Things In a Way the Parent Will Understand

As I sit here writing an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) for a student in my class, I am reminded of a meeting years ago in which the parent of the child asked why her extremely emotionally disturbed son wasn’t at a higher reading level. I explained that young James was not excelling in reading (note: he was progressing, just not excelling) because he spent his days at school tantruming, curling up in a ball, instigating fights with other children, and hiding under the security desk in the school’s main lobby.

She then asked, “But you’re the special ed teacher, isn’t it your job to stop him and make him learn?”

I then showed her the learning goals I had outlined and was implementing for James, and explained that while it is my job to support his needs to my greatest ability, that is also my job for 28 other students in the class, and it is not always possible for me to “stop James and make him learn,” particularly when he is screaming curse words and throwing chairs at me.

She then asked “Then what is the point of having the special ed teacher there if she’s not helping the special ed kids?”

I then showed her the positive behavior reward system I had written and implemented for James, and explained that I am helping him, and he is progressing. I just can’t be all things at all times.

She then said “But if you were really helping, James would be at a higher reading level.”

I then showed her the pencil in my hand, and explained that I keep a pencil in my hand almost all day, as it is a superb tool for teaching children. To demonstrate this to her, I got a piece of paper, and showed her how with this pencil, I could write words, create visuals, edit mistakes, and expose children to all kinds of new educational concepts.

But no matter how hard I tried, when I pointed my pencil at students, I couldn’t seem to get it to shoot out fairy dust.

Because it’s a fucking pencil.

Not a magic wand.

And I’m not a wizard.

So SHUT YOUR FACE, lady.

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Hindsight is 20/20

Being a Special Education teacher is a great profession for me because, given that I have ADD and anxiety, and given how that affected my own school experience, I can totally relate to how these kids are feeling, and can therefore be super patient and supportive. 

….is what I thought when I got into this profession. 

What actually happened is that I signed up to work in a hot, dirty classroom full of 30 kids who represent everything I hate about myself. 

This is less a recipe for patience than it is a recipe for pulling my hair out strand by srand, finding the nearest table, crawling under it, and rocking back and forth in the fetal postion. 

Good intentions, though.