Lack of lesson plans, textbooks, collaboration, games, etc…..Special Education teacher

Hello everyone. I am a special education teacher here in San Antonio, TX. I have been teaching special education and have come to hate it. I started out wanting to teach special education so I could make a difference in the lives of children. Now on the onset most people picture special education classes as being small groups of children surrounded by a teacher and possibly a teacher’s assistant. Along with that mental image is plenty supplies and anything needed to do one’s job.

Now take that picture and tear it up…that’s not what actually happens. My first experience with special education was in elementary school. When I asked “where are the current reading, math, and science books because all I see are books printed at least a decade before the students were born.” Let me explain, in my district special education students aren’t counted when books are ordered so special education teachers/students must make do with out of adoption (read reallllly old) textbooks. It’s very difficult to find a complete set of books for an entire group of kids. Regular education teachers always get the new books complete with the technology that comes with today’s materials such as DVD’s, and computer based instruction. I, on the other hand, am digging through the used book dungeon trying to find a set of matching books not too destroyed by previous generations of students.

Where I was it was extremely unusual to get a visit from adminstration unless there was a fight something equally egregious happening in the classroom. I would see our adminstration continually visiting regular education teachers. I guess our kids don’t appear on the radar unless there’s a problem.

Now fast forward a few years. I now teach special education at a local high school. I’ve been given the task of teaching biology and integrated physics and chemistry. Remember that mental image I drew earlier? Do you think I have a neat science room replete with everything my students and I need? Remember special education students really need hands-on experience to learn (like many of us do). Well I was given nothing except a two broken flashlights, a test tube stand (with no test tubes), and a large box of….you got it….textbooks that were signed by students in 1988! While in the next building the regular education kids have new science labs replete with brandnew physics and chemistry labs.

My kids are indeed the bastard kids of the school. Special education teachers receive $200.00 a year to buy supplies (wow….just think of all the neat stuff I can buy for my 115 students…. yea right) The parents thinks their kids are getting all this help but me (and all the other spec. ed. teachers) get shafted in materials not to mention growing classloads. Our special education co-ordinator hasn’t taught a class since Carter was president and could care less about our situation. The spec. ed. kids are really being cheated out of a decent education.

So why do I continue to teach? My reward is in the student’s who come by and say they felt safe and cared about in my classroom. They might not have learned as much as they could have but I go to sleep at night knowing I did the best I could with what I was given. Sometimes I wonder how much longer even that will last.