Sunday, August 22, 2010

Better, Not Bitter

As I re-read my last post, I thought, “Hmm, I sound sorta bitter about my dealings with the ol’ school district and their people.” To tell the truth, I think that often I am. Really, things could be so much better, but it doesn’t seem that there are many administrators who really get it. We have had some phenomenal teachers who have been open-minded, kind, and very creative with regard to inclusion, and my son has had some good years, despite the Special Ed Administration. Maybe these people are overworked and are burned out on meetings and lack of funding.

I have heard it said, “Let tough circumstances make you better, not bitter.” So I have to ask, How am I better because of my dealings with our school district administrators? Here are several ways. I have learned to be prepared. As in, be prepared for anything crazy that these people might suggest. I have had it suggested to me that my son be dropped off at a different point at the school so that he might think he was being taken to a different school. (Yes, they really did say that.) They have turned me into the master of asking, “What? Are you serious?”. Being prepared with that question has helped me in all matter of circumstance.

I have also learned to be persistent. This is another trait that can have lots of value in other situations. The old “squeaky wheel gets the grease” and “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” have been put to the test and rewarded more times than I can count in my school meeting dealings. Life demands persistence, and I am grateful to have developed a tendency toward it.

Another way I have become better is through learning to become creative. If something I requested for my son got vetoed, I learned to swap it for something else just as good, but couched in different terms. This is an art I still need to develop, for it often requires quick thinking and good negotiating skills.

I have also become more aware of humor in situations. The neighbor friend that I have referenced has referred to some school meeting situations as, “Straight out of a Saturday Night Live skit”, which has been so true!

So, all of that was not for nothing, and it has made me wiser and more bold for the sake of my son. But there is more I want from the experience. I desperately want my experience to count for something for other people. I don’t want the battles fought to be for nothing, so that the “powers that be” can go about doing the same thing they did before us, keeping status quo. I want it to count as forward progress for students with special needs in the public school system. What can I do to make lasting change and promote willingness to try new things for the cause of inclusion? At times, it burns in me to make more things better than just me.

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