Yesterday was Teacher’s Day in Malaysia.
As I listen to my eldest and youngest daughters share the exciting activities they held in school to commemorate the day, I wondered about Emma’s (my middle daughter) teachers.
Why did they decided to become a ‘special education teachers’ instead of regular teachers? Did they chose to be in this field? Or was it because there were no other employment choices?
My eldest is keen to be an educator. Teaching TESL. I can see many challenges in that. And it mostly concerns ethnicity. However I don’t want to discourage her. So the best advice I gave her is: Don’t be discouraged when someone tells you that you can not teach English just because you are not a blonde and not blue-eyed. Be confident that you will succeed. Because you speak better English than most native speakers.
So for those who wants to venture into teaching, below are some things I would like to share with you. This applies to most teaching profession, and especially special education.
#1 Speak. Discuss. Communicate.
With the parents if you face challenges with their child. Let the parents of the child know the problems you face. They are the ‘expert’ in their child so they can be your guide on how to handle the child.
#2 Keep a mini closet in your classroom.
For yourself. And also for the child. Little ‘accidents’ happens in all classes. It will happen in your special needs class.
#3 We seem to bug and hustle you about our child. A lot.
If we seem pushy about meeting our child’s needs, forgive us. We are their ‘first’ teachers. We know what works, what don’t. So we hope you will work with us.
#4 It’s a brain thing, not the upbringing.
Children with unseen special needs such as Austism, OCD, Asperger’s, and ADHD demonstrates their disability through their behaviours. Please don’t blame their parents for these ‘problems’. Instead, recognise it as a result of their brain dysfunction.
#5 Treat and talk to us with respect.
We are aware that you are the professional. But we live with these children day-in and day-out. That in itself, deserves everyone’s respect.
#6 We are their best advocates.
As parents of special needs children, we know their needs better than anyone else. So please treat us like we are part of the IEP team. IEP is after all, a team sport.
#7 Yes, we know you are exhausted.
We live with these special needs child, remember?
#8 Try to like our children.
Despite their behaviour, tantrums and the many moments of frustrations you have with them.
#9 Don’t punish them.
Punishing them would mean you are punishing how their brain works. And their brain works differently than yours and mine.
#10 Every child learn.
Just not in the same way. Trust me, with your patience and guidance, they will get to where you want them to be.
#11 Thank you.
For taking on this area of education. It is very hard work. We know. We are parents of these children.
#12 Love them.
They are, after all, children.