This post is about the frustrations I have felt as a Special Education teacher, Special Education student’s parent and having been involved in Special Education since 1989.  It may not be this way everywhere, but from what I have seen and heard, what I have written below does bear some resemblance to reality, in far too many places – even today.

Unfortunately, most of the other teachers, administrators, parents, politicians, etc., that this post is really directed too, are not the ones reading it, because many of them do not take part in this part of the education world (the online one).


To be honest I get damned tired of being stereotyped as “You know he is a SPEDteacher, so he doesn’t really have to teach,” comments that I have heard “others” make about Special Educators.

It may come as a surprise to some of you out there, but Special Education Teachers are real teachers too.

  • Is that shocking news – I sincerely hope not.

I hold a State Certification for my Specialty Area which in my case is Special Education i.e. a 282 certification (just like others have History, English, Math, etc) and have become HQT in several more to meet NCLB standards to so that I can teach those subjects in my classroom.

I get tired of hearing disparaging remarks made about Special Education teachers and their students in:  teacher’s lounges, hallways and offices, supermarkets and other public places.  Below are some samples:

  • “if those students were mine they would be in the office all the time”,
  • “it’s so sad how little work those students have to do to pass and get credit for their work – I would never allow that little and the quality is so poor…”
  • “all those kids do is play games all day, I sure wish that is all I had to with my students”
  • “I am sure glad you have those kids that can’t learn anything – I just don’t know what to do with them in my class”
  • “You know if your kids would get their act together, our school wouldn’t be failing”.
  • “just keeping them until they turn 16 huh – you’re just a babysitter not a real teacher, everyone knows they are just going to fail anyways.”
  • “if we just spent half the money on regular education that we do on Special Education, our schools would be so much better.”
  • “I don’t want my students hanging around with yours – they are a bad influence on mine.”
  • “job security”

There are so many more negative or inflammatory statements about Special Education that I have heard throughout my teaching career and as a Special Education Parent, they are all so sad and unnecessary.
If those are the kinds of things I have heard or been told in “polite” conversations in public, imagine some of the statements that have been said to me in private conversations, the one’s where I usually have a bad day over and have lost a few friends or acquaintances along the way.

I think we all get the picture on that one, so I won’t go into any detail on that.

I wonder how many times Special Education students hear these kind of comments and how it affects them?
I want to respond to some of your complaints about the way we teach and will start with.  Special Education teachers do have to teach differently than other teachers.

It is not a choice.

  • We get the kids other teachers, administrators and sometimes so very sadly parents:  don’t want, can’t work with, do not know how to teach or don’t have time for in today’s education world.  That is the population we serve – the one’s that didn’t succeed in the regular education classroom for whatever the reason or disability.

I am not saying that Special Education teachers are any better or worse at teaching than our regular education counterparts, because we are not.

What I am saying is that Special Education teachers are for the most part very good at what we do and that usually we have a different perspective and mind-set to help the students we serve. If we simply try to teach the same ways they have always been in the past, these students won’t even give us a chance to teach them.

We need to go beyond only attempting to teach the subject to reach our students.

So teachers, administrators, parents or whatever capacity you may be in, the next time you see a Special Education teacher doing something different from what you might do or would normally expect from a teacher when reacting to a student or in their classroom.

Don’t pre-judge or stereotype what you are seeing, maybe what you are seeing is actually 6 months of student progress.

We don’t ask for much, just treat us as peers, professionally and remember to include us in on subject area stuff that we teach too, we may have some insights that might surprise you.

I know that I just want to be treated as a fellow teacher, who is doing his absolute best and trust that we are teaching our students to meet their needs, in ways that might be different than how you teach, taught or believe students should be taught.  The negative comments and commentary on how we teach and about our Special Education students serve no purpose in a positive school setting where we are all trying to make our schools better.

A Special Education Teacher