I have been in the special ed business almost 6 years now. This time of year, the honeymoon has worn off and behaviors start to spike. Teacher frustrations with academics tend to go up as well when you realize that little Johnny doesn't remember the material you went over a billion times already. During this tense time of year, I have realized the commonalities many of my students face. Most of these have come from true heart-to-heart conversations I have had with my students over my years of teaching. I have listed all of the ones that I feel educators need to be reminded of from time to time. Some of these may seem obvious, but some have truly taken me awhile to fully understand. I am hoping you will be able to take away some insight to the struggles some of your special ed students face.
Special ed students want you to know:
- I promise, I really did learn the material. When I say I can't remember, I mean it. I know it is there somewhere, but I just cannot seem to grasp the memory. It's like having a filing cabinet for a brain. The files are in there, but I just can't seem to open the drawer. It gets stuck from time to time and I need your help opening it.
- Sometimes I misbehave because it is better to be sent to the office and be labeled a trouble maker than it is for my peers to decide that I am dumb.
- Sometimes I misbehave because I am dealing with such big and powerful emotions from tragedies in my life that school becomes insignificant. I know that it is your whole world, but I just cannot deal with it some days.
- When I say that I am upset over something, please do not tell me it is "not a big deal." It may seem like I am overreacting, but this is my reality and my perception of the situation. You not taking it seriously just upsets me more. I need you to empathize and have my back.
- I know your job is to get me college ready, but that may not be my future. Please help me become a good person and citizen because that will be far more valuable to me in the future than academics will.
- When I have a hard time focusing, I am not doing it on purpose. Please redirect me kindly and quietly instead of calling me out in front of my peers. I hate being embarrassed for something that I cannot control.
- Sometimes you are the only stable person in my life. Thank you for always being there for me.