“Oh, you’re not a real teacher.”
“Thanks for turning in your report card pick up attendance sheet, but yours doesn’t count.”
“Since you’re not a real teacher you don’t get a new computer for your classroom.”
“You’re so lucky that you only have10 students in your classroom at a time.”
Those are just some of the typical comments I get throughout the year at my school. I feel like I really have many obstacles to overcome just in how I am perceived by my coworkers as a special education teacher. I have learned not to take too much offense when one of my colleagues or administrators makes a comment similar to those above, but it still stings a bit.
I understand that what they are trying to say is that since I do not have a homeroom I do not get the same things or have the same requirements as does a teacher with a homeroom. One of my colleagues was recently asked about her classroom, “Why do you need to use all of this space? You’re just a resource teacher.” She later called me to vent about her experience, and I told her that I wish this were the first time I was hearing things like this, but it wasn’t.
Yes, it is true I do not have a homeroom, and I do not teach all of the subjects to each one of my students, but that does not make me any less of a teacher than my colleagues. I sometimes wonder if people realize the extent of what I do with my students every day.
I often have the least amount of supplies to work with in my classroom. If I need things like calculators, books, or geoboards, I am borrowing them from my colleagues. I need to collaborate with more than six teachers on a weekly basis, so just trying to find the time to do that while making sure I use the right approach for each person’s personality can be a struggle.
Those “few” children I have in my classroom? It sometimes feels like there are 50 kids instead of 10. This is especially true when Miguel is upset because someone cut in front of him in line, Jack got a detention in library and is taking his frustration out on me, Juan is crying because he lost his favorite blue pencil, and Alan is covering his ears while humming loudly because they announced we’re having a fire drill today. I’m handling all of that all while still trying to teach the lesson to the other students in the classroom who are ready to learn.
I am constantly adapting and accommodating the curriculum to best meet the needs of my students while allowing them to be successful. It takes time to make worksheets, PowerPoints, and modify tests. I still have to grade assignments and give grades to my students. Then there are all of my special education duties, writing IEPs for all of the students on my caseload. Keeping track of their goals, and staying current on the progress monitoring of their goals. Every quarter I’m writing their IEP report cards in addition to their regular report cards.
I’m not asking to receive any extra or special praise for being a special education teacher; I am just doing my job. But please, please don’t tell me I’m not a teacher. I AM a teacher!