“Us versus Them” in Special Education (Part 2): When We Choose Hopelessness

It’s been a while since I worked as a Special Education administrator. Working now as a Special Education Consultant, I have an opportunity to be that mostly objective third party, that in-between perspective. Even so, I can’t escape the reality of “us versus them.” I see it and hear it in the frustrations of teachers, administrators, and parents who are struggling to support the needs of kids with special needs. After all, it’s all about the kids, right?

It’s easy to feel trapped in our different worlds. We may feel secure in our world with the comfort of what we know. Yet, all that we need to support kids with special needs cannot be found within one world. At some point we must venture into the world of another and asking for what we need requires courage and a willingness to push past the barriers.

The journey starts with a acknowledging the emotions that may be holding you back. A teacher may choose not to speak up and advocate for the needs of a student because of a fear that doing so may result in a loss of status or even a loss of his job. A parent may worry that pushing for accountability from her child’s IEP team may put her in the category of “the squeaky wheel.” An administrator may choose to be less available because he fears that he won’t be able to respond to what is needed in the way that it’s needed. Despite your situation, anxiety and fear only lead to hopelessness.

Hopelessness may lead to inaction and a choice not to speak up for what’s needed. For others, hopelessness leads to acceptance….trudging along because that’s just the way it is. Then there are those who seek solace within their group by grumbling, complaining, or blaming another group.

When we choose hopelessness, our world only gets smaller. We miss out on possibility and we lack the creativity and perspective that it takes to move forward. If you’re willing to venture out your door, you may be surprised that what you are looking for was there all along.

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One thought on ““Us versus Them” in Special Education (Part 2): When We Choose Hopelessness

  1. Pingback: “Us versus Them” in Special Education (Part 3): Navigating the System « Special Education: Conflict or Collaboration?

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