Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Sep 30 2012

#49: On being a traitor

I was making copies a couple of weeks ago and one of the social studies teachers asked me: “So how does it feel to be teaching this year?”

I thought this was an odd question. “Uh, same as the last two years I’ve been teaching, I guess,” I replied.

“I just mean that now you are teaching full time.”

“Hm!” I paused(1).  “It’s about the same amount of actual work, but it’s definitely different!”

An eavesdropping science teacher chimes in.  “Oh, are you not doing special ed this year?”

“No, I’m general ed this year, I’m teaching Geometry.”

“Oh, congratulations!”

“Thanks, I suppose.”

My wife had been teasing me that I was a traitor to special ed for leaving, but I never felt this to be so until that exchange.(2)

I could always sense this resentment towards our department from a few colleagues before, this idea that you aren’t really a teacher unless you are do the conventional teach-all-day-save-one-conference-period routine.  From my wife’s experience as a school psychologist, I had heard plenty of stories of SpEd-disparaging general ed teachers, too. I guess out of politeness, no one had ever insinuated that what I had done for the past two years was less worthy of praise or admiration.  But since I’m now “one of them,” I guess it is not a breach of etiquette to say so now.

I can honestly say that as a first-year general ed teacher that I am working just as much as I did my first year of special ed.  I cannot tolerate this idea that special ed teachers are not “real teachers.”  The duties are certainly different but no less challenging or time-consuming(3).


(1) *internal monologue reveals the author’s desire to pummel dude’s face with hummingbird-rapid punches followed by a torrent of guilt for wishing violence upon someone*

(2) Cue Groucho Marx’s “I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member” and self-loathing.

(3) See: life-consuming.

One Response

  1. Educator

    Strange, special ed teachers are worshipped in our school district. Everyone knows it’s an incredibly challenging position, and I think everyone really respects sped teachers. I wonder why it seems like it’s a different culture where you are.

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