A Letter to the Parents of My Students With Disabilities

From the teacher who would move heaven and earth to see a big, beautiful smile.

I want to start by saying thank you. Thank you for loving and nurturing and giving your heart and soul and life towards making your child’s life the best it can be. Thank you for fighting for appropriate services for your child and getting placement at our school. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to become a chapter in your son’s life. Thank you for allowing your daughter to become a chapter in mine.

You’ve heard from me pretty regularly now for almost a year; some of you more regularly than others. I’m sorry that so often our communication originates from the challenging day your son or daughter may have had; I’m sorry the day was challenging for him or her, and I’m sorry it sometimes means the challenges may persist until the next morning.

I want you to know every day I find something I want to contact you about, beyond the behavior and the curriculum, beyond the goals and objectives, the behavior intervention plans, the crisis management implementation, beyond the day-to-day schedule adjustments and updates.

Every day I find something I want to share with you to remind you that your child is a bright spot in my day. I want to share how your son impressed me with his dance moves, or how your daughter impressed me with her memory of a conversation we had the day before. I want you to know your son grabbed my hand to stop me, he shot me a dazzling smile right as I pulled out a timer because he’s so stinkin’ smart and knew I was about to tell him he had two minutes left playing with the iPad and he didn’t want to be done yet. You should know your son and I spent 10 minutes today just jumping around the room, because his smile got so big and I didn’t have the heart to make him follow his visual schedule just yet; academics will wait, but with tough days coming more often than not, that genuine joy may not. I want to tell you about the way your daughter cheers for every single person getting in and out of the school van, so much so that she forgets to get out of the van herself.

I want you to know I sometimes just stand outside the classroom door while the therapists are doing their jobs, while timers are going off and sight words are being read and test tubes are being sorted — and I just watch everyone. I’m not looking for a perfectly implemented behavior plan or an exceptionally run dyad, although I can assure you that is being done. But I’m looking for signs that we’re making a connection, that we’re bringing more than just routine and improved behavior for your kiddo.

I’m looking for a smile — big or little, it doesn’t matter. I would move heaven and earth to see those smiles every day, and I just wanted you to know.

With all the love in the world,
Miss Katlyn, Coordinating Teacher and Big-Time Sucker for a Great Smile

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