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I’m a Special Education Teacher. Here’s What I Want Parents to Know.

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Dear Parents of Children With Special Needs,

I just want to start off by reminding you that you’re strong and incredible parents and human beings. You spend countless hours during your days and nights, making sure your child has every little thing he or she will need. In daily life, you have become more prepared, patient and empathetic people because of your unique family situations.

The new school year is quickly approaching and you must feel like a nervous wreck. Sending your children to school can sound so frightening; you’re basically starting from scratch, finding a positive learning environment that will meet your child’s needs and still make him or her happy, as well as having to build trust with a new staff all over again. I completely get it! I have a twin brother living with autism. He’s 24 years old, and I still feel this pit in my stomach every time he tackles something new.

As a special education teacher, I want what is in the best interest of your child and so much more. During the weekends, holiday breaks and teacher planning days, I miss your children! I wonder what they’re currently up to and how they’re doing. They start to consume most of my thoughts throughout the year, inside and outside of school. I’ve become empathetic with each and every child to the point that everything they go through and you go through, I feel like I go through it with you all, too.

Sure, some days are more difficult than others. On the difficult days, I may feel defeated, just like you may have felt before. On the fantastic days, I cry; the tears that come out are happy tears. I may push hard for progress on certain occasions because I feel I have an understanding as to what your children are capable of. I get pure joy out of witnessing any and all of the progress from your children. I want to be in constant communication with you and try my best to end my daily notes and evaluations of your kids on a positive note.

In the end, all I want is to build a loving rapport with your children and help them make leaps of progress into being the most independent, productive and well-rounded individuals they can possibly be. What initially motivated me to be a great teacher was the fact that I wanted to be the kind of teacher I’d want my brother to have in his classroom. I believe every teacher has their own motivations to be successful professionals.

I’m aware of the time and money you spend for education, doctors, therapists, social groups, medication, equipment and special foods. I also constantly think about you and how we can be helpful to you all. I love your children and truly admire your strength and dedication you’ve had throughout their whole lives. Stay strong and mighty!


Nicole Whitman

Photo of the author, a young woman smiling in front of a road.

Originally published: August 24, 2015
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