Friday, December 12, 2014

Teaching and Respect

This year I am our school's local screening chair, which basically means I am the special education teacher tapped to sit at the special education meetings that involve determining whether or not a child is or continues to be eligible for special education. It's far from glamorous and involves a lot of paperwork, a careful following of the legal process for finding a student eligible for special education, and scheduling meetings. A lot of scheduling. (Which sounds far easier than it is in reality.)

This is a new role for me and I have a huge learning curve. I like learning new things and usually I thrive on being new at a role and learning all of the ins and outs of a process and the theories behind it. This role is hard. Perhaps because there isn't a lot of theory to learn, but there is a lot of dotting the eyes and crossing the t's. I am enjoying the learning process, but I do find it frustrating that this role is so time consuming and takes away from time with kids.

What I find the most striking about this is that many people act like this is a promotion. The "oh, you are just a teacher" people seem to react with a whole new level of respect when I describe what I do now. Perhaps this is the respect I've been waiting for all these years when I've secretly fumed at cocktail parties from getting the pat on the head and the "A teacher? That's so cute!" comments. But now I'm still fuming. 

I'm not sure how being surrounded by the tedium of paperwork is possibly considered more prestigious than working with kids. Teaching a child to read- that's meaningful and important. Teaching a child learning to speak English, from an underprivileged  background and who is struggling to learn how to read? That's essential. I think of it like being an ER doctor. Every second of the day should be devoted to getting into working with these kids and teaching. That's when the details should matter. That is when everything is on the line. These students have to be successful and it is our job to get them there. 

It's hard for me to reconcile the i dotting and t crossing details of the legal paperwork when there are kids out there not getting reading instruction because I am doing the paperwork. It does not take theory or years of practice and training to put together a packet of documents. I do other tasks besides putting together paperwork, I shouldn't be totally diminishing the role... but it still shouldn't be seen as more prestigious than teaching kids. It kills me that it is.

Why is it that in the teaching profession the more time one is paid to spend with adults the more respect we give them? 

1 comment:

Snippety Gibbet said...

Now that I am retired, I find that I really do miss the kids way more than I anticipated. I watch them now and smile....even at the somewhat naughty ones. For me, I think the teaching career really was somewhat of a "calling."