Dear fellow Special Education teachers,
I see you spending hours designing and curating the anchor charts of your classroom.
I see you trying to create the perfect graphic organizer that pairs the functions of sequencing and sentence starters with the aesthetics of a student’s all time favorite Anime character.
I see you then scrapping this project and finding yourself deep in a Pinterest hole wondering who are these master teachers that can create such elaborate lesson plans and resources that make us feel like mere mortals.
I see you slouching over and writing an IEP on the weekend at your favorite local coffee shop, since you do not have a minute to spare (what is lunch?!) during the school week.
I see you advocating for your students day in and day out and explaining until you are blue in the face that often the students who challenge us the most are the most in need of our consistent support and love.
I see your resilience, your patience, and your fierce determination – even when you do not feel that specific parents, students, or fellow staff members appreciate your efforts.
By signing onto this underpaid and underappreciated profession, you have entered into an elite club of like-minded – some might even say irrational – specialists willing and ready to accept any challenge. Because as we know, the checklist is never-ending, and every day in the classroom will simultaneously strengthen and humble you.
The Special Education Teacher’s Guide to Survival is intended to be a platform for all of us to share our experiences, resources, and proposals on how to improve the profession. In my first few years teaching, I spent hours after work Googling, reading manuals, and researching best practices, since I felt ill equipped for the trials that I faced in the classroom.
I am by no means an expert or a veteran teacher – I have more questions than answers. This website allows for me to research topics and learn from a supportive community how to meet the highly individualized needs of each child.
Lastly, we inevitably see shortcomings in the special education system. This is no surprise since the game-changing federal special education civil rights law, The Education for All Handicapped Children Act, is still shy of 50 years old. All of us on the ground fighting for our students and families are distinctively qualified to recommend changes to our current system as laws evolve, the cost of special education continues to rise, and new research emerges.
Thank you for all that you do everyday, and thank you for being a member of this wildly optimistic and relentlessly loving community of educators.