Teaching special education is hard! I've said it before and I stand by it...Teaching is Not for Wimps! And Special Education? Well it takes some guts!
Yep, you can't sugarcoat it! Especially in the weeks before a break!
Hey, I love my job more than most people I know...and most special educators do too. But that doesn't make it rainbows and unicorns all day long. Sometimes it's more like poop and a marathon.
And that's why we have to stick together. And every special educator should have a friend who gets it. In my time consulting I have witnessed some truly amazing friendships between SLPs and teachers, teachers and paras, co-teachers, and teachers down the hall.
And did you know that there is research to back this up? Making connections is one of the key factors in developing resilience to handle times that are difficult.
People who have developed strong relationships between friends and family are more likely to be able to weather adversity than those who are more isolated. And having someone who is a good friend also means they help you find perspective on events. This reduces the tendency to see every negative thing as a crisis.
So, what does a special educator need from a friend?
If you have been in this field for a while, I hope you have had the experience of working with or alongside someone who inspired you, comforted you, shared with you and most of all laughed with you. Having a true friend who shares and really understands you is priceless. Here are 5 things that I think special education friendships offer that help us stay on the job.
Yes, clearly this is something that every friend should do. But listening means so much more when you are in special education. Only other special ed staff understand when you want to pull your hair out if you hear "I want three tomatoes please" from the kid who has been saying it all day long. Well his parents might understand too. But they probably don't want to talk about it.
A good special education friendship allows you to talk out all the issues without having to explain everything. A good special educator friend also understands the important things, like the cost of Velcro and why you can't wear jewelry to work.
Teaching is not for wimps...especially in #specialed! #spedtribe
One of the hardest things about being a teacher in general is finding the time during the day to get everything done. And in every school, there is always a 2 staff members who you will need to be saved from.
One staff member, I'll call her Tillie TimeSuck, seems to have all the time in the world....to take up YOUR time. She'll talk about anything and everything all day long. And meanwhile what little free time you had is gone.
Another staff member you need a friend to run interference with is Debbie Downer. You know Debbie, she never has a positive thing to say about anything or anyone. And she always wants to tell you about it. Or tell you what you are doing wrong. Or tell you how bad everything is in the school. And let's face it...no one needs more negativity in their lives.
A good special ed. friend sees Sally or Debbie talking to you and saves you. He or she comes up to you and "reminds" you that you were supposed to "help" with a completely made up project. Hence, she saves you from the time waster and the negativity.
Is positive and supportive, but honest
This one is a delicate balance that real friends achieve. A good special educator friend tells you what you need to hear at times, but can be honest when it isn't something you might want to hear. And your relationship is strong enough to weather a disagreement.
You may not always agree with this friend but you will know he or she has your best interest at heart. And you will know you are getting the "honest truth" when you ask for an opinion.
Shares ideas and passion for the job
Above all, one of things a true special educator friend does is share your passion and your reason for doing the job. She gets why you are committed to the job even when things are tough. And he/she shares ideas about how to change things up, improve instruction, manage behaviors and try new things. And you can do it together! He or she keeps the fire alive and reminds you occasionally WHY you do this job.
Shares Velcro and Laminate
OK this is how you know you have found a true friend! Only a true friend would not hide the Velcro and laminate when you come in the room. You know it's true!
The best special educator friend shares....Velcro. 😱 #specialed #teacherlife
Still Looking for a special Educator friend? Come join us in the Special Educators Connection Facebook group.
We get it. We've been there. And we can help.
Until next time,