Life is about sharing responsibilities. Good or bad, you share a percentage of responsibility for just about everything. Teaching special needs, parenting with autism, or even just with chores, everyone must share. When you share, there’s bound to come a time where people question who does more. In my life, I strive for equality in my marriage and all my partnerships. On some days, that may look more like 30/70 and on other days, that looks more like 60/40. When people fail to understand that 50/50 equals out over a period of time, that becomes a problem for me become sometimes equality means understanding where another person comes from.
At work, communication is lacking. I’m a longstanding perfectionist, and the fact that cogs don’t fit and the machine doesn’t run smoothly every day bugs me. Knowing that my efficacy as a teacher relies on the communication of others bothers me. When I ask a person I work with how I can help modify things, when we can meet to discuss lesson plans, if we can use different strategies in the classroom, etc., and it falls on deaf ears, that alone makes me feel ineffective. When I then listen at the end of the year to teachers telling me that I should not claim 50% responsibility for the children we taught together because I they felt I didn’t do enough work, it makes me want to punch a wall. This further bothers me when I know I’ve spent hours modifying assignments, in remediation of students, creating behavior plans, meeting with and calling parents, and doing hundreds of things behind the scenes that they fail to see or acknowledge as valuable work.
In short, when I work my ass off, I expect that I get treated with some modicum of respect, not looked at like I’ve done nothing.
“Oh, well, she shows up late for work, so how can she share equal responsibility?”
Um. My son’s school opens no earlier than 7:30 and I live out of district. I have to walk him in because he’s Autistic. I have bruises from the mornings he’s bit, kicked, and hit me in resistance to going to school. The school I work at starts Homeroom at 7:40 and that ends at 7:48. There is no way it’s humanly possible for me to get to school on time since the schedule changed after all the wonderful winter storms. Before the winter storms, most days, I got to 1st period on time. No one seems to be able to process that information–that our school decided to start earlier and end Homeroom earlier, while my son’s school decided to end later instead. I show up maybe 5 minutes late. If it’s a really bad morning, it’s 10 minutes. I always let administration know. It’s out of my control. I can arrive at 7:30 on the dot at his school, and he may decide he doesn’t want to get out of the car. I’ve had to call the office for assistance before. I’m sorry that happens. But when I get there, I do my best. She could do a better job of communicating what the lesson is so that when I do come in, I know what the F*&# is going on and I can jump in.
Living with autism, parenting with autism, teaching special needs, and juggling it all is a balancing act. Not a single person that I teach with understands what I’m going through. They may state that they understand, but knowing and understanding are two different things. You may know that I have a child with autism. You don’t understand what that means. You may know that I teach special needs and that I have a lot of paperwork to do, but you don’t understand the time-consuming nature of that work. I do more than they think I do. I don’t get enough credit. I may never get that credit. I’m not sure how long I can put up with working with people who don’t appreciate my work, my talent, or my passion for my job. Further, I’m not sure how long I can put up with working with people who show absolutely no empathy for my situation. I may not talk about it openly, but it’s no secret. Compassion goes a long way. I come to work with battle wounds and barely held back tears some days. No one asks. My birthday comes and goes and no one cares.
Who the hell cares about 50/50 anyway, right? Good or bad, right or wrong, I know I’ve done my part. I’ve put in my blood, sweat, and tears for my kids, both at home and at school. Does it matter whose fault it is at the end of the year when kids underperform? Does it matter who gets the credit when they succeed? Yeah, I guess it does. They’re just tests, though. All I’ve wanted all year is for those kids to feel successful and like someone cares about them. If anyone else could wrap their heads around that, I bet we would see growth.