Thursday, February 11, 2010

I Never Claimed She Would Be Academically Equal To Her Peers! :(

Today I am a little sad. Disappointed. Frustrated. Concerned. Irritated. SAD.... As I was dropping off Sadie for school I stuck my head into her general education mainstreaming class and asked her teacher what time the Valentine's party was and if I needed to send Valentine's for Sadie. During the conversation the teacher asked how Sadie was after the last couple of weeks and all the medical things we were dealing with.

Here's where I need to give some background. This particular teacher was not my first choice (because she has not taught K that long and has never taught anyone with ds) but has surprised me as being the perfect fit for Sadie. She is organized, calm, has a quiet classroom (that helps Sadie hear), and has been for the most part super supportive of Sadie. During her IEP I was worried because she seemed to underestimate Sadie's abilities and offered to have Sadie join them "during a non-academic" time when Sadie had an option to "just play in the playhouse" everyday. I knew Sadie would surprise her and show her she really is a smart-cookie!

Back to our conversation: The teacher told me how impressed she was with Sadie in the last few weeks. Here's basically the conversation, "She has been opening books and enjoying them! She even scribbled on the paper when we did a pencil/paper activity. Yesterday, she repeated some of our sightwords during class.... I was so happy". WHAT THE CRAP!!!

I repeat... WHAT THE CRAP!! Sadie has been "reading- looking at pictures and repeating or making up stories, even tracking words from left to right" FOREVER. She has issues with fine motor... but she can write several letters and draws pictures. She knows most of her letters and all of her sounds. She even can read about 8 sight words all by herself. WHAT THE CRAP!!

All this time in the classroom with Sadie and she still thinks of her as a toddler. I tried to make light of the situation and said, "Well then, I guess she will be ready for Kindergarten next year. haha ." You know what she said??? "Not without an aide... I could never teach her and attend to the rest of my class."

No Duh!! I would never put my kid in a general education class without an aide. So, again, I try to make light of the situation, "I'm glad you think so... your recommendation will help me get an aide when I ask at her IEP. Of course I would never send her to typical classroom without a one-on-one aide" For heaven's sake... she is a runner!!

All these months and she still has no clue Sadie is a Superstar. This is what really pissed me off. In front of several parents she told me, "I've been making a list for the IEP of all the things she can do; but there is a list of a lot she can't do also".

Back off lady cause I'm gonna come unglued!!! My response (of course while showing great body language- body turning, arms folded, firm lips), "I never said Sadie would be academically with her peers; but she IS benefiting from being in your class."

Uh oh.... the teacher took a step towards me, glanced around, and looked me in the eyes and her face soften. "I'm sorry Mrs. Teague. I didn't mean to sound so harsh... I shouldn't have talked to you out here... maybe we can talk later."

Now tears in my eyes, "Yes that would be more appropriate!"

My husband told me to just think about it for a day or so. He doesn't think it was all that bad. So, today... I'm just going to cry about it. I wish she knew the real Sadie. I wish she could see her potential. I wish she could see the benefits of having her in general ed. I wish she was one of her advocates. I wish she knew how hard and embarrassing having her say those things infront of other parents was.

I wish there was a perfect placement for MY PERFECT CHILD!!


TUC said...

I wish your wishes too.

Tara said...

This makes me cry, too. I am new on this journey, but I do understand the pain of having someone just not "get" and appreciate the awesomeness of one of my kids. I so want everyone to experience them as I do and see them as the gifts they are. Praying for you for wisdom and perspective.

Ambitions of a Trophy Wife said...

Maybe you can take this opportunity to volunteer in her class with an activity that will allow Sadie to shine not only to her teacher but the other students! You have a right to be upset with this young teacher's approach, my guess is that it is from inexperience (although I have had some similar run ins with more seasoned teachers as well)so hopefully she can come away learning something as well. Its a hard line for parents, we want our children to get the assistance they need but at the same time that alienates them further.

Beth said...

You don't know how inspiring this is to me as a teacher, Kari, to hear you advocate for your child like that, and have to think that you are the only one. I've never taught a student with D.S., but after hearing your story and your posts, I hope to one day. I wish all teachers would know that all children can learn, and that we would all hold them to the highest expectations possible.
Beth Makaafi

The Mikesell's said...

That teacher needs a few more hours in a "Teaching Special Students" class. How horrid for you.

I want to apologize for the entire education community.

My advice is to TEACHER SHOP in your own school you will find teachers that see the child and not just the medical diagnosis. Some teachers are not educated some are not tolerant and then some are loving and kind and wonderful.

If you have special ed classes ask the aides they know where they are welcome and where they are just tolerated. If you don't have special ed classes ask the PTA (remember they are advocates for the children for their school.)

I pray that Sadie (and you ) get a great teacher for next year! And I know a Library that is always open to you!

JennyH said...

Sounds like you handled it well. Too bad the teacher doesn't see all her great strengths.

Max's K teacher told me she didn't think Max was really reading some sight words. He was and it pissed me off. I just blew steam else where. She was gonna believe what she wanted anyway. Thankfully his resource teacher knew what he was capable of and knew he was reading!

Tami said...

I'm so sorry you had to endure that. She almost makes me ashamed to be an educational "professional"...

adopting "Russell" from Ukraine (RR)

Ashley Webb said...

Oh, Kari! How frustrating!! I can't imagine being in a situation like this - how sad that she just doesn't get it. I hope things get better; they usually do. :)

chaos diaries said...

But you know what? Your little Sadie the Superstar is going to completely change the way this woman sees Down syndrome. I know it's hard, and I think it sounds like you did a FABULOUS job of dealing with the conversation. But truth is, most people, even teachers, don't have the experience with Down syndrome. They, like the rest of society, are operating on outdated stereotypes. And it's going to take a while---and a few amazing kids like your Super Sadie (and my AmazingMason) to change the way society looks at Down syndrome.
So tell Sadie to keep on rockin' that extra gene!

Bethany said...

Oh man, hence my anxiety about kindy. Why is that so many people are afraid to get to know the child?! Grr. Hope things have gotten better.

Lindsey said...

A lot of teachers underestimate our children, and a lot of them are awkward with what to say. They don't have a clue...but most of them do mean well

Lindsey Petersen

Becca said...

Oh, wow. You're an amazing advocate for your daughter, and I hope that teacher thinks long and hard about how that conversation played out. During your IEP, if they don't recognize that she can do those things, you seriously need to ask for more than just an aide. If they can't see that she can do those things, then they're not looking, and that may not be the best environment for her. Her teachers should be spotting those things and nurturing them.
Good luck!

angela michelle said...

Sounds like this teacher has some good teaching skills and good intentions, but no clue about your daughter! Sounds very frustrating! I thought teachers these days were more clued in on the concept of mainstreaming. But it sounds like you're doing an awesome job advocating for Sadie.