I have to be responsible. All teachers do. I'm responsible for myself, my actions, and how I treat others. I'm responsible for the 22 sweet children in my room. I'm held responsible, at times, for things I am really not responsible for and I don't like it.
We've got a real push in my district to head toward more inclusive models. This sort of gives me a chuckle because it is not a new idea. It is not even a new idea in my district. I had five kids fully included in my classroom in 1994. They all had pretty significant language-based learning disabilities. I worked closely with a teaching assistant who was in my room all day. In 1995 I had a boy with autism fully included in my fifth grade classroom. At the time, he was the only child with diagnosed autism in our district. He had a one-to-one aide. There were 11 other students with IEPs in my classroom that year. A special educator or her assistant co-taught with me all day long. Since then, I have had many students fully included or partially included in my regular education classes. This is a good thing.
The challenging thing can be working closely with one or more adults to provide quality education in the inclusion setting. Don't get me wrong. I have gotten along with all but one of these aides. (That all but one story is a doozie better left for another post.) I've been blessed to work with some truly stellar professionals. I have learned so much from the special educators and paraprofessionals I've had the chance to work with. While getting along with the other staff in the room has really never been my problem, things can a get a little tricky. Classroom teachers are responsible for utilizing the staff in our rooms effectively but we do not supervise this staff. When work ethic wanes, when staff in our room make poor choices during the day (like texting instead of teaching), when they're unkind to kids, we are ultimately responsible. But, because we don't directly supervise the staff (nor do I want to) addressing deficits etc. can be awkward and uncomfortable. I don't mean to be a slacker but I don't feel like managing the adults in the room is a responsibility I really want to take on.
There is another responsibility that I have a hard time embracing. When a family is disappointed by a teacher, administration, or even the special education team in our building, they sometimes generalize their disappointment and say they've been disappointed by the district. Fast forward a year or two later. Now this parent has a child in my classroom and I am "the district". I find myself wishing for a fresh start with this family. This is kind of strange because I'm really just starting out with the family. I will never criticize my district to gain favor with such a family. To be clear, I'm really proud of the good work our district does. Nonetheless, don't want to take responsibility for the mistakes made in previous years.
I embrace the responsibilities that are truly mine. I just wish I wasn't held responsible for the work of others.