Here I am, again. Trying to convince myself to keep a blog alive. To my credit, I have written a few things on Medium, but even those posts have become sparse. Most of the time I feel as though I’m shouting the same stuff into the Universe’s largest echo chamber, anyway. Who wants to read that? Were it not for an email reminder about renewing my hosting, I probably would not be squeezing out these few words. I’m a tired teacher, y’all.
Not just physically, but mentally tired as well. It’s only October. More of the same. Negotiating spaces to make myself fit in order to best serve my students (those on my IEP caseload). Yes, I help all students; however, I’m doubly responsible for those who have an IEP. It is my ethical duty to ensure that they receive all of their modifications and accommodations in four classes. That means I travel with them four periods a day, with whatever ‘stuff’ I can fit into my rolling cart. Just like my first year as a teacher. Sixteen years ago.
In addition to traveling with my crew, I remind General Education Teachers about ways to differentiate instruction and making basic modifications, such as limiting the amount of copying from the board, not making copies front-to-back, using at least 12 point font, rephrasing, etc. Repeatedly. I am the voice for seven kids with IEPs. My advocacy inadvertently helps students who are either still in the ESOL program or recently ‘graduated’. There are also some students in the gray area: They have neither been diagnosed nor identified as struggling. That’s an entirely different process. Fortunately (for me), I have no involvement with that process. I don’t even have time.
I thought this role, like all the others, would be different. My instincts tell me, repeatedly, that there is a consensus of sorts, with regard to Special Education. My field is the most difficult to staff and, quite possibly, the most overlooked, overworked, and underappreciated.
During today’s therapy session with my hairstylist, she gave me this advice: “Continue to do what you can for those kids because it matters. It will make q difference.” As soon as I sat in her chair, I saw this sign on the wall:
I truly love what I do, especially the opportunity to interact with kids. It’s the other stuff that threatens my ability to continue loving the work. The paperwork. The conforming, trying to force myself (square peg) into the emotion-less bureacracy that is Education (round hole). I keep trying to convince myself that it’s not like this everywhere, but I’ve been to enough ‘everywheres’ and witnessed enough of ‘this’ to question whether anyone is really in this line of work for the kids.
Even if I only ask myself that question one time, it is one time too many.