As another school year comes to a close I try to reflect on my professional growth and development, what I learned and address the issues that plain pissed me off. The fact is this year was very difficult because I saw my opinion of the field of education change. It is amazing what you are able to see when you sit back and simply listen to the words spoken versus the actions taken. I love nothing more than to assist the group of teachers that I work with by providing tips and strategies to make their lives simple. Special education is a difficult field, it requires you to combine educating students with multiple deficits, teach multiple contents at different levels, and complete paperwork that would make a psychiatrist cringe. If I can help them provide the best services for children while maintaining their sanity I have accomplished something for the school year.
This was the first year I really questioned my effectiveness as a leader and also a support for teachers. It seemed like I did more in ways of communication and received less accuracy of task completion. So I began to think, are my methods no longer effective? Or is everyone simply so overwhelmed with everything else and life that they don’t have time to devote 100 percent to the job. Personal issues as well have impacted several staff members including myself. This is the reason that I don’t believe in taking work home, working on the weekends, and not taking time to spend with family and friends. Once you are burning both ends of the candle, what do you have to hold on to without getting burned? How are educators expected to work miracles without proper tools and time? Problems that were problems in elementary school aren’t miraculously solved in high school yet the expectation is that we can “fix” children. Yes hundreds of seniors graduated, but many of them will struggle with finding their place in the world, others will face lives filled with criminal activity and harsh prison sentences. As we smile and celebrate graduates, scholarships, job placement our hearts break for those that we clearly watched the system fail.
For the past three years I have seen my beliefs about the importance of education change. I firmly believe that education is so much more than what happens in the classroom, education involves the growth and development that occurs constantly throughout life. Education requires people of different cultures, religions, opinions, education requires the incorporation of nature, and most importantly education is not a one size fits all formula for college that everyone should fall into. Students should be encouraged to see the world outside of their local community and most importantly outside of the United States. I have spent this year reflecting on how many changes I would love to see have a positive impact on children and young adults, but I have also breathed a sigh of relief because I no longer have a student in high school. Love, support, encouragement, guidance, mentors, all of these encompass the village needed for children to thrive. When pieces are missing we see them slip slowly through the cracks. Yes its summertime, yes I will find myself roaming the country, but I will always have my ear open for any improvements I can make to provide impactful relevant support for those who provide services to students and young adults with disabilities.
Wishing you all suntanned skin, love, laughs and many moments with friends and family old and new.