It’s Saturday evening. I have to finish two IEPs and begin writing two others. There’s also a mountain of paperwork that I need to complete because clearly, Special Education Teachers don’t already have enough to do. But, here I am…still turning over thoughts from the #MidSchoolMath conference I attended last week, specifically, ways General Education teachers can be better allies.
I shared a few tweets while I was there, but my intention was to stay in the moment and interact with the other Math Teachers in attendance. As I mentioned in the last post, I was one of three Special Education Teachers in attendance. Even still, that small number excited me. I saw people who understand the balancing act of being comfortable with content, implementing accommodations, and advocating for students.
Why was I really excited? It showed me that there are other Math Teachers and Principals who view us as teachers. Someone believed it was important enough for Special Education Teachers to attend a Math conference with their colleagues; team teaching partners. If you’ve followed me on Twitter for any amount of time then you know how I feel about Co-Teaching. I have had both positive and negative experiences in that setting. An arrangement meant to (intentionally) benefit students with Learning Disabilities, and unintentionally benefit the other students, is often regarded as an inconvenience or invasion of one’s teaching space. No one wins when certain students and teachers are made to feel unwelcome.
Now, look at that in the context of how schools choose which teachers get to attend Math (or other content-related) conferences and professional development opportunities. If we are going to inject the terms #disrupt, #equity, #culturallyrelevant, etc. into our conversations about how and who we are teaching, then we need to hold people accountable for ensuring that we are, indeed, doing more than just talking.
If we are going to re-conceptualize what our profession means and how we leave our mark, then when conversations about equity arise, #SaveMeASeat. If not me, then a Special Education Teacher in your building. Even better: When you are asked to speak at a conference, ask the organizers if there will be speakers with disabilities speaking on their experiences as students, parents, teachers, etc. If they did not invite any, suggest they invite someone in that group in your place. This is the same thing that Black women have been asking of self-proclaimed White allies. This is how we disrupt spaces and conversations that have traditionally centered Whiteness and Ableds. There is no other way.
You lose nothing, by attending one less conference during the year.
It will cost you absolutely nothing to #SaveMeASeat.
What I gain and share with my students will be immeasurable.