There are various responses when you tell someone “I Teach Special Education.” Here are a few…
“Bless your heart!”
“I am so thankful for you!”
“You must have a lot of patience.”
Each of these responses can describe an individual special education teacher, but they also may offend some.
Typically with students in special education, there is usually a negative stigma that comes along with the title. The same goes for a special education teacher, except it is not a negative stigma. Instead, it is, for lack of a better word, a judgment.
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There are four common myths about special educators that I would personally like to address.
4 Myths from a Special Education Teacher
Myth #1- A special education teacher has extreme patience.
While I would love for this to be true in all aspects of my life, it is not. I think a better word would be “respectful” or even “professional.”
Yes, I can withstand a child rolling around my classroom for hours without physically losing it, but on the inside, I am ready to burst at the seams.
I may sit there and look “patient,” but I am silently pleading with myself to stay calm out of respect for the child. I take into consideration that it’s not personal. It is something they are fighting inside too.
I think the credit for the “most patient person” goes to the Charter customer service lady that had to walk me through setting up my new cable boxes painstakingly.
That is patience.
Myth #2- Our job is easy because of the small class sizes.
HA! Easy? Yes, I have twelve kids in my fourth period, but I am working with four different disabilities, and small attention spans. It is a classroom where I am expected to be in six places at once.
Not to mention that I do not get the luxury of all one grade level in a class. I am required to differentiate instruction to meet ALL of my students’ needs.
If something is working for one student, it does not mean that it will work for two others. I would love to sit in a classroom where I have 20 or more students that all function on the same level and require little to no re-teaching.
However, as a special education teacher, I am not privileged to that luxury. I strongly encourage any “General Educator” to spend a day in the life of a Special Educator.
I feel that this opinion would quickly change.
Myth #3- It’s just a job.
I feel that this is a myth that applies to anyone in the field of education, not just special education teachers. Regardless of what a teacher teaches, if they are genuine then it’s not “just a job “.
90% of the time I can guarantee that a teacher is taking home more than papers to grade. They are taking home the emotional stress some of their students are carrying.
Depending on the poverty level of the school they may even take home the guilt of being able to cook a home-cooked meal.
Teachers often say, “I don’t need children, I have 20.” or “I have so many kids, not just the ones at my home.” These are the teachers that take their students home (metaphorically) and worry about them like their own.
Teaching is and never will be “just a job.”
Myth #4- A special education teacher teaches “those kids.”
Okay, let me spare you the headache and cut this one short. My kids are just like any other kid that walks in the school hallways. They are and always be a kid like anybody else.
Just because they learn differently, or they require accommodations and modifications, does not take away from the fact that they are not “regular” kids. Who determines what is “regular” or “normal” anyway?
I am a special educator, and I teach ALL kids, regardless of their label.
What other myths have you found about special education teachers? Please share in the comments below.
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