Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Working Hard

Whew, what a week!

It feels like I say that a lot this year, but the makeup of my class is something else....

Most teachers are sympathetic, if a little bewildered, when they see us looking shell-shocked and a little bedraggled by the end of the day, but today, for the first time, I got a response I didn't expect.

It was lunch time...and I was talking with the 5th/6th and 4th/5th teachers. The 5/6 teacher has been there many years, and has been very welcoming of having kids in her class, though she's not quite sure of the benefits for kids with more severe disabilities. The other had, apparently, never attended an IEP as the general education representative for any kids other than resource kids before.

So, the latter made some comment about working hard and being tired, and I, jokingly, said that we could switch classes.

And I got a response I've never gotten before.

The response was something to the effect that it would probably be easier, because of the "standards" or something.

This perspective really irks me, and although I've suspected it in others, it was the first time I'd heard it voiced.

Some people think that because I teach basic, functional academics, that it must, by definition, be easier and less work to teach my kiddos.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love each and every one of them (though A. can crawl up my last nerve and R. will make me go gray), but they are a lot of work. We -- and they -- work long and hard to make them understand concepts that her students mastered years before. I have 2 sixth graders who are learning to match colors and to recognize their names by sight. And they struggle with that just as much as her kids struggle with subtracting fractions.

The other thing it could be is the fact that I always have 2 or more aides in the class.

Well, each and every pair of eyes is sorely needed. Even with all those adults in the room, E. has colored on virtually every vertical surface imaginable and pulled out nearly half of our venetian blinds. A. one day called the office 15 times -- and we stopped her 10 to 20 times for each time she got through. R. knocks stuff down and throws his shoes across the room at least 10 times a day, when he's not directly observed by an adult. S., though he very rarely does it anymore, hits himself until he bleeds if he's upset about something. R. and J., if left to their own devices, would rather sit and stare off into space than work. ...and so forth.

The truth of the matter is that even with all these adults -- we have no down time.


We can't sit while the kids have silent reading.

We can't correct papers while the kids take a test.

I love every moment of it, but it's a very, very difficult, very draining job.

And, I have to say, I resent a bit the implication that my job is any easier than hers is.

Just had to get that off my chest.

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