My next 2 posts are going to centre on schools. It’s a subject that has been on my mind 24/7 since I made the difficult decision to homeschool Simon for his Grade 1 year, while we searched for the right school to meet his needs. We believe we have found that school, and they seem to really ‘get’ Simon, and enjoy him for who he is. But… BUT, they need the funding to accommodate him next year. So we’ll be starting that process of applying for government funding, and praying for the best results for Simon.
Today’s post will give examples of some of the worst of the worst – in my opinion. Examples from the news and my son’s own experience which closely mirrors one of them. The next post will look at the flip side of educators who go that extra mile in recognizing and meeting their students’ needs.
In November of last year, we were at a crossroads with Simon’s school. His homeroom teacher seemed lost and overwhelmed, she couldn’t keep up with Simon’s vocabulary, let alone his activity level, craving for constant knowledge, and need for vestibular and proprioceptive sensory input. At that time, Simon’s SPD had not been diagnosed, and given the textbook behaviours he was exhibiting, I am shocked and dismayed that none of his teachers recognized any of the classic signs. With friends in the education field, I know these teachers take paid days off (called Professional Development days here) to learn about these types of signs and symptoms, and to learn strategies to manage them and communicate with parents about them. All we received were daily phone calls from exasperated teachers, one of whom informed me that Simon was merely “a cheeky little boy who never wants to do what he’s told”.
The breaking point for us, and for Simon himself, was the day his teacher – a trusted authority figure in his young life – called a class meeting where she instructed all the children to tell Simon what they didn’t like about him. He sat his super-sensitive self down on a little chair, and listened to each child in the room tell him he was annoying, weird, loud, etc. So if you’re wondering why I advocate for cameras in the classroom, now you know. As a mother, it feels like I let him down by sending him into that environment. As a citizen, I demand a better definition of ‘education’ for all of our children.
That teacher was suspended for a year without pay. But I have found nothing yet that indicates she understands why her actions were so incredibly deplorable.
There is a movement gaining momentum right now to change legislation in the United States, preventing restraint and seclusion for disabled children. This article from NPR outlines the need for this legislation.
I know there are wonderful teachers out there. The next post will look at the Gold Standard in education.