August 17th Return

Two day is free write Friday provided by

The prompt for today is to write about a time when you took the road least traveled.

I went to college as most of my generation were encouraged to do. However, I had no idea at that time where I would end up. I followed my parents guidance and became a teacher. However, I didn’t go the route that was expected. I became a special education teacher at a time when it wasn’t very popular. Not only did I go into special education but I went into Secondary Work Study which at that time all positions were held by men. I fought my way through forty years of federal regulations watching the pendulum swing back and forth having to remember which year I was in and howthe regs would fall each year.

I found myself being an advocate and protecting my students. I stood up for them against, parents, teachers, administration and anyone else that interfered with their progress.

I was a strong disciplinary with high expectations of my students and I never believed in giving into ones handicap as that is how I had been raised.

I would frequently find myself being called to explain things only to watch everyone back down when I used the federal regulations to explain myself. I always knew why I did what I did and never had a problem justifying it. That doesn’t make friends for you.

When I started teaching there was no such thing as a school psychologist, social worker, physical therapist, occupational therapist, behavioral counselor or anything else. I wore all the hats and did all the work including transportation. My second year of teaching we weren’t allowed to have our students in the gym so our PE was to go to the local bowling alley every Tuesday and Thursday and teach bowling as their PE. Then on Fridays we would teach square dancing in the classroom. Yes , I have done it all but it doesn’t stop there.

I would soon find out that they would send me every behavior problem and emotionally disturbed student in whatever district I was in because I could handle them when no one else could.

I would find myself doing counseling, suicide prevention, drug withdrawal techniques and what ever else was thrown my direction.

I had runners, biters, students who threw multipurpose tables through the air and what ever got in their way.

I would soon learn to be a fast talker and talk them out of their anger explosions. I was teaching behavior control implementation before it was ever labeled.

I was a behaviorist and didn’t even realize it. I did what I had to do because there was no one else to do it.

I worked with families and did many home visits. One student I visited sixty times at her home in Las Vegas.

The more the pendulum would swing in education the more I would find I was the outsider and a threat to administration and co-workers.

I never had a problem with students or parents. In my forty years of teaching I only had one student who could not be reached. He didn’t have a conscience and by the time I received him in eighth grade it was already too late. He was hard-core criminal.

I have been through taking away weapons, lock downs, and bomb threats. I have work side by side with the bomb team checking my classroom.

I followed the path that they don’t talk about in college and that no one can prepare you for.

I spent most of my years teaching Junior High or High School. I would find myself the specialist for disabilities, English as a Second Language and Title students. I would find children who knew no English following me around because they didn’t know who else to turn to.

In Las Vegas I got the nickname the duck lady because on the playground I was trailed by Hispanic kindergartners who couldn’t speak a word of English.

I found myself fighting for students in every district that I was in. I even found myself working privately as an advocate for the disabled both adults and children.

When I started in special education it wasn’t a popular field to be in and there were jobs everywhere. Now many have gone into the field for that same reason only to find out that now they are cutting those programs and the inclusion models have taken over.

Classroom teachers overall don’t want another teacher in their room. Now special education teachers are being pushed out of the schools.

The pendulum is swinging backwards with all the cutbacks. I only hope it doesn’t swing so far back that we go back to institutionalizing the disabled as I have worked there to and it isn’t a pretty sight.

I never went into education to be popular or a pet of the administration. Now I find myself frequently writing about the pros and cons. My path has led me to writing my new book that I have recently started “Secrets Behind Closed Doors” it will revel forty years of teaching experiences.

Not many have traveled the road I have traveled. It has been a costly road. The hours spent working on federal paper work and correcting papers and meetings took its toll on my family and that part I do regret.

However, I will never regret the work that I did with my students.

Education is the power of the future. We must provide all students with an education.

A took a journey that I never expected across three states, Montana, Idaho and Nevada and each state was different in many ways and yet the same in others. I hope that anyone reading this prompt will enjoy it enough to look forward to my book when it comes out.

2 Responses

  1. Bravo Janice!!! A standing O to you. You are a woman of compassion and caring. We definitely need more teachers such as you.

  2. Thank you. I am retired now and I will write about my forty years journey of teaching . Watch for “Secrets Behind Closed Doors.”

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