Remember when you finished your first Master’s program? Did you swear you would never return to school again? I did. And it’s not the first time I’ve lied to myself. I have a Master’s as an Education Specialist, which translates into: I have a deeper understanding of current practices for attending to students with differing needs, I know current legal concerns in the field of special education, and that I’ve performed and written about an action study in my classroom.
Yet, those of us in education know that one is never done. I returned to the late-night classes, overbooked weekends, coffee-binging, anything fried-food-eating, sleep-deprived-lifestyle to obtain a Master’s in English.
Have you ever had a 12th grade student rush into your classroom and hide in a dusty corner, far away from the door, until the bell rang? When this happened six years ago, my first thoughts were that Carl (alias) was being bullied; but this was wrong. Most of his classes were in a co-taught setting, and English was his only class where all students were receiving special education services. Carl was embarrassed. I said all of the teacher-y things to boost his self esteem, but at the end of his senior year, the situation had not changed.
While drinking chai and nibbling on cupcakes, I realized, just like Carl, I’ve been hiding in the corner throughout my teaching career; and I’m finally ready to come out into the sun. In speaking with other Special Education teachers, the identity issue is not isolated or new. This knowledge alone, makes me feel somewhat better. At the same time, there is a three-step, simple cure for the Special Education Identity Crisis.