My desk at school.
Lately, I have found myself very curious about what other parents do for a living while raising their autistic child. I wonder if their career choice offers them some relief from the piles of paperwork and multiple appointments, or the melt-downs and sensory issues. As I went through University I worked as an interpreter/tour guide at our provincial Museum the NBM. I miss it. It would serve me well right now. I am happy in my current job but it does not stop me from thining about those days. Maybe, I think about them with such fondness because I had very little responsibnilty at the time. My biggest stressor was my Thesis (a link in case you have been itching to read a thesis on cultural diversity) and looking back, what a waste of stress.
Today, I am a resource teacher. In other words, I work everyday with children that have special needs or exceptionalities (as we call it in NB). These children are on SEP's (special education plans, modified or accomodated) or SEP-I (Individualized). They are the most kick ass children in the school as any of their parents will tell you. Still, I find myself in a unique position, both professionally and personally. As the parent of a child with autism I can sometimes share important information you cannot find in a book, or offer a little more understanding to the parents of my students. On the other hand, I find I can be hyper-senstive to the treatment of these kids and often find myself putting Kate in their shoes. Now, I work with amazing teachers. They are beyond patient and understanding even though we go without enough resources, time or training in the crucial area of educating exceptional children. Sometimes though, I can't help but wonder: Will Kate be on some teacher's last nerve someday? When they decide class compositions for the coming school year will her future teachers try to pass her off stating they have their quota of special needs kids in their class?
I have been very vocal about my beliefs that teachers and EA's need more and VARIED training to work with these awesome kids. I often wonder how effective I am at school. Am I really doing what is best? And, then I get to wonder the same things at home? Are we effective in helping Kate? Are we doing what is right for her? Sometimes it all does feel like a bit much.
I love my job. I really, really do. I just find that I get exhausted, not only from working with the kids all day and then doing the same thing at home with Kate, but from the worry that I am not giving them the best service. I know there may be some bad teachers and EA's out there, who've entered the profession for the wrong reasons, but I have yet to work with one. I have met some misguided teachers and EA's, but for the most part, they are in their professions for the children. They love their students. They get attached and feel responsible for their success.
Now, I know there are haters out there who moan about summer holidays, (for which we do not get paid, by the way. Our wage for 195 teaching days is spread out for us throughout the year), or snow days (See Rick Mercer's thoughts on this, it is well worth the click), but the bottom line is working in our school systems can be as exhausting as it is rewarding. Our 'clients' are so important. We cannot afford to screw up or give less than our all. We are frustrated much of time because of budget contraints and lack of training but we are educated professionals with a stong code of ethics and love for the job or, TRUST ME, we would not stick around. We are a profession that the public does not alway get behind. We need you to get behind us on this one. We need you to tell your MLA's that you want the people teaching and working with your children to have the best quality training and resouces available. I am not asking for more money or a nice desk chair (we rarely sit anyway), I just want to feel effective and to do that I want access to the most current and progressive ideas out there. Makes sense right?
Happy Mail to:
27 Wellington Row
Saint John, NB
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Grace and Kate's mom. (Shanell)