I sometimes struggle with the line between personal and professional when it comes to my kid's teachers. I want to be professional, I want them to be professional, they ARE professionals...and yet, my kids are very personal to me.
I like some advice about if it's ever appropriate to make it personal with a teacher when being professional is not getting you what your kids need. This incident happened a year ago, but it feel it still has reverberations through my kids school experience. I struggle with wanting to apologize, try to make it right, but have been cautioned by someone I trust that this would be interpreted as admitting wrongdoing. So I guess my question also includes the question of how to acknowledge and move on.
To try to be brief, say my son has purple disability, in which it is commonly understood that some difficult behaviors can be attributed to symptoms of the disability. Purple disability has a set of treatment techniques that are widely understood to be effective and are well known.
His (new to him) special education teacher began applying techniques to him that are commonly understood to be effective with pink disability, but are 180 degrees different than techniques used for purple disability. I felt that these pink techniques were detrimental to my son. They included some physical restraining, which my son perceives as panic inducing rather than soothing.
I spoke with her many times about this, and discovered in speaking with her that she did not know even the most basic information about purple disability. She assured me she was learning about it as quickly as she could. This problem persisted through the school year. I spoke with her. I spoke with her immediate supervisor. I spoke with her director. I spoke with the school principal. I got nowhere, and was encouraged to be patient and work with her. I requested that he be assigned a different teacher, and this was denied. People listened, but it all kind of had the feel that I was complaining too much and didn't want to see my son disciplined.
Finally, I was venting to a friend one day (this was months into this problem). Her sister used to be teacher's coworker- just one of those small world things. Friend shared with me that teacher had left her previous employment, working with pink disability, because she wanted to become a director of various disability programs in the future and the one hole in her resume was that she had no experience in working with purple disability. Talk about information I didn't really want to know.
We plugged along for another month, until she told me her plan for the next year was to divide his behaviors into volitional and non volitional behaviors and send him home from school early for volitional behaviors, which is a pink disability technique. I asked how she planned to do this as she does not have any training in purple disability and she told me she planned to train in purple disability over the summer. She also shared that she had not trained in purple disability over the school year as she had been busy.
I, unfortunately, blew up at that point and told her very emotionally that I was aware of her career aspirations, that I was aware that she was using this job as a resume builder, and that my son was not going be her training experience. She wanted to know who had told me that, which I did not share. She did not deny that this was correct information. She started crying and we left, both in tears and angry.
I spoke with both of her supervisors in the next few days- the immediate supervisor to be told that we were getting a new teacher, because current teacher felt that I had attacked her personally and felt she was no longer able to work with me, and the director, who told me that I had not kept the discussion on a professional level and had "made it personal."
We got a new teacher, who was experienced in purple disability, and things almost immediately got much better, where they have remained to this day. Old teacher has clearly talked to several people at the school, who have referenced in passing the difficulties she and I had. I'm concerned about this, but also really wonder if I shouldn't have "made it personal"? I have considered apologizing to her over the last few months but keep coming back to the fact that this is how my son was able to get what he needed.
Plus, I keep thinking "yes, I made it personal. It is personal!"
Thanks for reading this novel, I'd appreciate any counsel.