Has (Other) Room For Improvement

, , , , , , , | Learning | November 27, 2017

(When I was growing up, a lot of teachers in my elementary school thought I had a learning disability. They based this on the fact that I couldn’t get into classroom routines and that I wouldn’t do math work. In actuality, I just didn’t understand the transitioning between subjects while still remaining in the same room, so I chose to continue doing subjects I liked, instead. They fought with my parents a lot over this, but my parents were adamant I had the necessary skills because I would read a book every night and could show them the math skills at home. They suggested that I just needed more time than the other kids. Apparently, the school decided to take matters into their own hands one day. Keep in mind, this was quite a long time ago, so inclusivity in classrooms wasn’t what it was today. There was a big show if you were taken from the class to work with the special needs educators. This happens after morning routine in grade three, when they come to collect the students that will be in the “special education room.” I am waiting for the dinosaur work we are going to do, when…)

Teacher: “[My Name], you’re going with these workers, too.”

Me: *confused* “What? Why?”

Teacher: “Because they will help you, [My Name].”

Me: “B-but I wanted to play with the dinosaurs.”

Teacher: “I am not going to argue with you! Go with them now!”

(Scared because she raised her voice, I get up and follow, embarrassed that everyone is watching me. I head with the group until we get to a small room. They keep other students out of this area, so I don’t understand why I am there. I am even more confused when they sit everyone around the table, and have us just identify numbers on the number line to start. I can do it easily and can’t understand why I’m not learning the multiplication work from my classroom. Then, they read out loud from a simple picture book, and I can’t understand why I can’t go back to my class and listen to the chapter book the teacher has been reading and that I really enjoy. I keep asking if I can read a book by myself, but they won’t let me. I am hoping I will go back to class eventually, but they keep me in there the whole day. I even have to eat lunch there. After school, before I meet my mom, I go back to my teacher.)

Me: “Ms. [Teacher], can I come back to class tomorrow? I don’t want to miss [Chapter Book].”

Teacher: “Oh, I’m sorry, [My Name]; you have to go back tomorrow.”

Me: *tearing up* “But I want to finish the book.”

Teacher: “We finished it today, so I can give it to your new teachers to read for you tomorrow.”

(This is when I start bawling, so my teacher tries to comfort me while she walks me to my mom. She then explains to my mom that I am upset because I missed the last chapter of a book.)

Mom: “I don’t understand. How did she miss it? Did she go to the bathroom?”

Me: *through tears* “I missed it because they took me to the other room, Mommy.”

Mom: “What other room?”

Teacher: “The special education classroom. It was [My Name]’s first time there, so she might need some adjusting, but I’m sure after a week or so, she’ll get use to the routine.”

(At this my mom’s eyes grow wide and she turns a shade of red I have never seen before.)

Mom: “My daughter was where?

(Apparently, somebody decided it would just be easiest if I went to the special education room so I wouldn’t be a bother. To make matters even easier, they were going to give me the exact same work and not adjust the workload to my needs. My mom was very angry that they did this behind her back. She yelled at the principal until it was sorted out and I was put back in my original class. I would like to note that I didn’t mind being with the other students; I actually enjoyed being with them. I was upset that they made a big show of taking me to the room so I didn’t feel included with the rest of the school. I was upset that the work wasn’t at my level, and that it wasn’t explained to me why I was there. Now that I’m older, it upsets me that the kids in that room were referred to as a “bother.” It also upsets me to realize that I could communicate my frustrations and something was done because of that, but there were students in there who couldn’t. As a result, I went on to become a teacher and receive my Masters of Education. With my own classroom, inclusivity is an important aspect, and I am proud of how far education has come today compared to when I was a scared grade three.)

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Special Friends Forever

, , , , , , , | Learning | November 13, 2017

(In fourth grade I move to a new school. On my first day of school, a group of girls comes up to me and claims me as their friend. I become really good friends with one of the girls, and the rest are fun to play with at recess. Some of the girls aren’t as smart as I am, and one is missing a leg. All of them have another class that they go to for part of the day, but being nine, I don’t really think much of it. This happens in sixth grade: My teacher has asked me to stay behind so she can talk to me before I go to recess.)

Teacher: “[My Name], I see that you’ve been playing with [Friends #1, #2, and #3]. You shouldn’t be playing with them; we will find you new friends.”

Me: “But I like my friends, and all the other kids in class are mean or are into things I’m not interested in.”

Teacher: “Well, if you stop being friends with those girls, then people wouldn’t be mean to you.”

Me: “But my friends are friends with me, no matter who I hang out with. Why should I be friends with people who don’t like me because of who I am friends with?”

Teacher: “[My Name], those girls are Day School children and you’re not. You are one of the brightest students I have, and you shouldn’t be playing with them.”

Me: *looking at my teacher in confusion* “But [Teacher], I’m a child and I go to school during the day. What am I, if not a day school child?”

Teacher: *pauses* “Just go outside and try to make new friends.”

(It took me a while to work out that “day school children” meant kids who were in special ed. By the end of seventh grade, I was no longer friends with most of the girls that I was friends with in fourth grade. Some had changed schools, and some had just drifted naturally into different groups. I’m glad I never took my teacher’s advice to abandon a group of people who had welcomed me with open arms just because my teacher thought they were different than me. I’m now in my 30s and still count one of those girls as one of my closest friends.)

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Not Playing Around With That Playground

| Learning | January 3, 2017

(My school is for people with emotional and behavioral issues caused by their diagnosis, not people with intellectual disabilities. It’s for things like Aspergers and ADHD, people who will be able to live independently and go to college if they want, but the public school system can’t properly prepare them. There’s a playground out back with a basketball half-court that teachers take their classes to sometimes. One of the first days of ninth grade is nice, so my new class all heads out to the playground. Everyone else splits into a basketball game, and I head to the swings.)

Teacher #1: “Excuse me! You’re not allowed to be there!”

Me: “What? Me? Where? Why?”

Teacher #1: “You’re in [Teacher #2]’s class, right? High schoolers aren’t allowed on the playground.”

Me: “Why not?”

Teacher #1: “You’re too old. Regular high schoolers don’t have playgrounds, so in this school high-schoolers can’t use the playground.”

Me: “Yeah… but… he took us all out here.”

Teacher #1: “You can use the basketball court, but not the playground. When you’re a grown-up, you can’t do these sorts of things anymore. You’re going to have to learn this eventually.”

Me: “So what am I supposed to do?”

Teacher #1: “You can play basketball with your friends.”

Me: “The other students in my class harass and bully me. They don’t want to play with me and I don’t want to play with them.”

Teacher #1: “I’m sorry, but you can’t use the playground.”

(I spend the rest of the recess sitting on the curb by the blacktop. The next time the teachers bring us out, I grab my book.)

Teacher’s Assistant: “You can’t bring anything with you outside.”

Me: “I just want something to do.”

Teacher’s Assistant: “You’re going outside to get exercise.”

Me: “How can I get exercise when I can’t use the playground or the blacktop?”

Teacher’s Assistant: “You’re allowed to use the blacktop.”

Me: “Whenever I’m near them all the other kids mock and belittle me. I don’t want to be on the blacktop and have everyone just throw basketballs at me and shout about how I’m a crybaby r****d. That’s not something I should have to put up with.”

Teacher’s Assistant: “Then think of something else to do.”

Me: “I did.”

Teacher’s Assistant: “You can’t bring things outside with you.”

(Thankfully it got cold soon enough so we spent all of lunch inside.)

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