One blog I love is Thoughts of an Autism Teacher. This blog is written by a teacher in Virginia somewhere. She hasn't posted in a while, but I'm always hopeful. I was browsing through some of her old posts and came across this one: What I Wish I could Tell Parents. Man, does she hit the nail on the head! I LOVE my job. I LOVE my kids. I actually LOVE most of my parents. However, I, like almost every teacher, have encountered those parents who make me question my career choice. It is so hard to find the balance between continuing to work diligently with their child and keep them updated on progress while maintaining sanity.
I'm copying the "letter" this teacher wrote. It is not word for word what I would say, but it rings true anyway. If you are a parent of a child with a disability, take note. Those of us who have a passion for the job want to keep that passion. I have yet to meet a good teacher who is not willing to listen and brainstorm with parents. Be open and honest, but don't monopolize our time. Remember, we are here to teach your kids, not to spend hours in meetings and writing reports for you!
I picked this career because I fell in love with working with students with autism. I would say it chose me, instead of the other way around. I’m actually pretty good at a few things, so teaching was not my only option. I learned that there was a huge need for more teachers who are well trained and intelligent, and committed to working with this amazing (although sometimes challenging) population. So here I am.
I got my master’s degree. So please don’t send me lots of reports from your private tutor/”Educational Consultant”/Reading Specialist telling me how to do my job. Most of them have the same degree that I have. Some have no classroom experience. Its a little insulting. Actually, more than a little. Do I go to your job and tell you how to do it? I welcome your questions and concerns - you should absolutely advocate for your child’s education. But can’t we have an open conversation instead?
When you criticize me constantly, it works to your disadvantage. I am going to continue to treat all my students with the respect and love they deserve, regardless of how you treat me. However, I am not going to “go the extra mile” for you. I’m not going to call you as often to ask your opinion, or to share something cute or funny your student did. Why? I don’t like to talk to people that criticize me. I’m not paid enough for that.
When you send me 5 emails a day, I start to think you’re crazy. I stop reading your emails. I purposely wait longer to respond. I try and avoid you. I start researching grad schools and seeing what my other career options are.
Please remember I work really hard. Like 12 hour days. I have lots of students with lots of different needs.
Most of all, please remember I care so much about your child’s education and that we are on the same side.