I should totall clarify.
I think it is great you observe that way. I think it is FABULOUS you are involved. Probably one thing I forgot to mention is how much teachers LOVE involved parents who want to work as a team. There is NOTHING BETTER! I have some moms who come in regularly to help out (and I know they observe) and it is never a problem.
I just want people aware that there is a lot of bad observation experiences that happen, more from ed consultants and advocates than from parents in my personal experience actually which are negative. I don't recall a bad expereince with parents ever unless they are with advocates. So often when a parent request an observation the first thought in a teachers mind may be "oh crap, what is wrong".
Also, not all advocates are bad. But there are enough and there are enough observations that have hidden agendas to make any teacher nervous.
OK as an example, my neighbor teacher who has a pre-K ASD class had a mom sit on her car and watch the kids from the parking lot during recess unannounced. Just there staring at the kids. Then she spent the next hour on the phone from the parking lot with her advocate. I really can't go beyond that but it wasn't positive.
Now first and foremost, yes moms want to see kids but any adult watching kids unannounced from a parking lot is going to set off HUGE red flags amung all teachers just on a basis of safety. Fortunately we recognized the mom or we would have called the police. It is not just her child out there and we do have to be concerned about student safety. ALL adults on campus observing or not need to check in with the office and be cleared. Heck they can't be alone with kids or volunteer over a certain number of hours without a background check.
The BEST and BIGGEST thing is to work together with your teacher and i really hope you have teachers you can do that with. We are a team between parents and teacher of who has the most time and influence with that child during that year. The only way for it to work is to work together.
Personally, as a special ed teacher I also feel if you have a teacher that doesn't want to work with you as a team, work on getting a change in teachers to someone who will work with you.
I was hoping you would chime in on this, Renee.
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Well that would depend on the teacher i think but I can speak to this in general ;-). Many teachers have many different things to say but I won't go into what all of them would say.
Personally in general I feel there needs to be a much better relationship between teachers and parents. Unfortunately, particularly in the autism community, there is an expectation of adversarial relationships and there is a HUGE lack of trust on both sides of the table in the global picture.
There are many individual teams that have been able to work past that. For instance I have a great relationship with the parents in my class but it was hard won. The vast majority came in with very little trust that I would do my best for their child.
Unfortunately, and I am going to be honest here, sometimes I feel that lack of trust is bred in communities like this. I understand the need to help each other and to work through problems but often all that is heard is negative about teachers and an "Us vs. Them" mentality.
Most of the following isn't my personal experience but what I hear from other teachers around me. Some of it is my personal experience as well because of the nature of the job I have. I have been given some of the highest profile cases in the district due to my background as a parent and teacher.
1) We are not all that bad;-). I know there are some bad teachers out there but in general most teachers go into teaching because they love kids and most special education teachers do it because they love children with special needs. They are often doing their best.
2) Most special ed teachers have to know about many disabilities but may not specialize in autism. It is getting more well known and taught in schools but if they don't know all the ins and outs have patience, hopefully good teachers are willing to learn.
3) Communication goes both ways. Yes teachers should communicate and the good ones will but withholding information and being distrusting of the teacher just adds to the negative atmosphere.
4) Special education is an extraordinary high stress job with a high rate of burn out or turn over particular in the autism classes. This is often because of the adversarial nature of many of the IEPs (sometimes unjustly so) and teams.
5) Observations are STRESSFUL and SCARY often because teachers don't know the hidden intent particularly when advocates or consultants are involved. Unfortunately there are a lot of vulture type advocates who feel it is their job to nit-pick and find something wrong with what the teacher is doing in order to justify their jobs.
It would help to make sure to communicate to teachers if you want to observe to get ideas taht this is why you are observing. Personally I have had parents do this and it is FINE with me. Often I will set up a special time to work individually with their child with them present so we can practice together.