I want to begin this post by saying I have nothing against paraprofessionals (teacher assistants, to the layman). Many of my dearest friends are paras, and some of the best times I’ve had have been with these awesome women. They do as much work for the students as teachers do, and are paid less than half of what teachers are paid, with no guaranteed job security from year to year.
That said, I have been feeling pretty…crappy for the last 24 hours about something. It’s almost too embarrassing to admit to the general public. I guess in the grand scheme of things it’s not all that bad, but for some reason, it’s effected me.
A parent was very nice and sent a letter (email) of thanks to the principal of my school as well as the superintendent stating that her child’s teacher goes above and beyond to help the child and communicate with the parents and generally is just awesome. I agree. She does do this and more and does it for every child in her class.
She also mentioned his reading intervention teacher and how lucky her child is to have this person. It’s true. Our interventionist is truly great.
She also mentioned me, the teacher assistant, who also shows a lot of care and concern for her child’s education. Nice, right? Sigh.
I guess I get it. Her child is not in special education (but soon will be) and she has no cause to think of me as a SpEd teacher, even though I’ve been introduced as such. She’s not the first parent to do this and I guess she won’t be the last. It still stings, though. Like, a lot.
Both the principal and the superintendent answered back to the original email. They thanked her for the email, stated they agree with her about the child’s teacher, and that the intervention team works very hard to ensure students are successful. Notice anything missing? Yeh. Me, too.
No one addressed the error of my being a special education teacher~not teacher assistant. Sure, maybe the superintendent doesn’t know. I’ll give her that. Maybe the principal didn’t want to make the parent feel badly. Maybe she included me in with the intervention team. Maybe she never even thought to correct the error. Maybe…
After the year I’ve been having, this just tops it off. I was at work by 7, asked for plans for review before 8 (because paperwork is the most important thing in teaching~not progress), had one of my students refuse to do his work, stayed until after 4 because an IEP meeting I’d been in since 2:45 went a little long (while I watched a co-worker walk out at 3:45 without a word because the duty day was done), only to come across that chain of emails. I was pissed, but I thought it was just me.
I am lucky to work with a good group of supportive teachers. The classroom teacher was appalled about it, and the intervention teacher apologized. I was quick to let her know the apology was unnecessary. They, and a few others who’d heard about it (not from me~I was too upset to say anything), offered me their love and kind words. It was nice.
Again, in the grand design, I suppose it’s not all that horrible, but it does hurt. It’s just that when you go above and beyond for your students, spend HOURS and DAYS (and nights) working on IEPs, progress reports, charts, cues, research, lesson plans, data collection and crunching, assessing, and, oh yeh, teaching, it’s a bit disconcerting to hear you’re only thought of as a para. Especially by those that know better.