You must be so patient!

Posted on 16 Feb 2007 in School Behavior, Special Education | Comments Off on You must be so patient!

As a special education teacher – I get this comment all the time. And I hate it!

Why do people think that I must be patient just because I teach special education? Is that all it takes to be a good educator? What about knowledge? Experience? Or research-based instructional strategies? Don’t these elements make a difference? You bet they do! I’d venture to say that these factors are much more relevant then patience.

Having patience will not teach a child to read – but teaching then phonemic awareness is a good start. Having patience will not stop a child from hitting other kids – but using positive behavior support and differential reinforcement will. Having patience will not help a child succeed on a test – but teaching them mnemonic strategies will.

My point it this. . .

If you teach children with disabilities, then educate your friends and colleagues about your profession. If we want to advance our profession and be seen as professionals we must start advocating for ourselves. As a field, we do a great job of advocating for our students. But we fail miserably in advocating for ourselves and letting people know that we have specialized knowledge that is valuable in our society. Until we reach that point, people will continue to believe that patience is all that’s required to teach students in special education and being nice is all that those kids need. This is wrong and we need to make sure that people know it.

For the record, I’m not patient – I’m professional.