Saturday, November 7, 2009

Thanks to Teachers

I once heard a college president say, "Teaching is a matter of life and death." That is certainly true in helping students with disabilities reach the goal of full participation in the world of work.

This week I participated in a Conference on Exceptional Children, sponsored by the Department of Public Instruction, Exceptional Children Division, in Greensboro, North Carolina. Pollye Pruitt (pictured above right), a staff member in the Exceptional Children Division and a former student of mine, had invited me to join her in a session on parent-professional collaboration. I appreciated the opportunity, because this is a topic of great concern and interest to me.

We frequently hear that teachers are dissatisfied with their salaries, their crowded classes, and the abundance of paper work. This is not what I heard in these sessions. I heard genuine concern for their students and respect for their parents, an eagerness to establish relationships that would enable students to succeed. I was surprised at the intensity of the questions posed to us. One teacher asked, "One of my students told me that there was no need to invite his mother to a meeting, that she didn't care anything about him. How can I help him understand that his mother does care?" Others asked for ways to involve the parents in the education of their children and suggestions for addressing language and cultural differences - overcoming barriers to full communication and collaboration.

A positive relationship between the home and the school is essential for students to acquire the skills necessary for success as employees and participants in the community. I am impressed with the efforts teachers and other school personnel are making in establishing this relationship.

—Jane B. Schulz, EdD