We live in a day and an age where most teachers who are churned out of the colleges and universities have been taught how to perceive children with special needs as they are mainstreamed into the classrooms. The teachers are required to take sensitivity training as part of their jobs. They learn how to deal with challenging behaviors and manage the stress they feel in their line of work. There isn’t a teacher left hardly anywhere anymore that hasn’t had some sort of training in any of the above.
Yet, we often hear about teachers who have abused their students or who have just made it unbearable for “those kids” to be in their classrooms. The really shocking cases include teachers who are special education teachers and teachers who have children at home themselves. No one is ever quite certain why these teachers have chosen to act this way towards their special needs students, and when there is an explanation, it’s so simple it’s outrageous.
Chances are, your son or daughter doesn’t have a really horrid teacher like this and in fact, has a really wonderful, caring, warm and patient teacher. If there’s any problems at all, there are probably ways to work it out and the teacher is probably just frustrated with trying to figure out your child. (Think about how you feel as a parent some days; at least you know your own child and you know what works and what doesn’t!)
If you are facing some challenges with a general education teacher, here are some tips on how to work things out.
- Ask her how things are going in the classroom. Usually an IEP is in place for a child with autism, but as children grow, they sometimes drop one bad behavior to pick up another. The teacher is a direct link to how your child is behaving at school all day, five days a week. If she seems hesitant or expresses concern, talk about it. Share with her what you do with your child at home that works. Work out some other possible ways to deter your child’s behavior with her that will relieve her anxiety and pressure to do a good job.
- She’s stressed. What teacher isn’t? Let her know that you don’t hold HER accountable if your child is acting up or acting out. She is trained to handle these things and is probably doing the best she can, but may be worried that you are a parent who is going to give her a hard time if your child decides to hit, spit, bite or kick and ends up getting hurt in the process. Most teachers like to know that parents aren’t going to string them up when they aren’t perfect.
- If the general education teacher asks for a meeting with you, keep it. Keep it touch via email. Most teachers are allowed to check their school email accounts and phone messages so that they are ready for changes in any one of their pupils’ schedules that day. As a parent, drop an email when you think your child might be crabby, not feeling well, etc. They will probably write back and they are happy to know they aren’t bugging you if they need to speak to you.
The biggest thing to remember is that teachers have a really tough job. Most classrooms have at least twenty-five to thirty-five students all the time. They have to keep all those kids in line, teach them everything they are supposed to learn at that grade level, do their own lesson plans and keep up with changes in the classrooms and on top of that, your child is just one of the special needs kids mainstreamed in their room. Look at things from their point of view and always offer to help. It really makes a difference.