Discussion in 'Special Education' started by crosscountryski, Dec 18, 2011.
Dec 18, 2011
deleted for personal reasons.
I think there may be a distinction between "I have ADHD and that's what got me fired" and "Because of my ADHD, I was unable to do the job I was hired for, and as a result I got fired."
What did that one staff member complain about? Was it the knowledge that you have a disability, or that he or she had to pick up the slack when part of your job was left undone?
It's silly to think that because of one complaint you may not get a contract next year. You may want to talk with the administration to ask what you can do better. Go in with an open mind and really listen to their suggestions.
I think you should contact either your building rep or union president with your concerns. Who told you that your contract might not be re-newed? Someone on staff or admin? I would start documenting everything that has happened
I'm sorry you are having to go through this and I know it may be stressful at work but you will get through this awful time. Hugs*
And I don't believe anyone should be discriminated against because of their disability. It's just so wrong in so many ways.
I think you should speak with the administrator and ask what can be done and voice your concerns BEFORE calling the union. You may be causeing and up roar that might not even be necessary. Or that could be squashed immediately. Or speak with the principal about it. Tell them that you think you are going to get fired and apologize for the complaint. ( Tell them what they want to hear). Tell them that you want to do better and will do everything in your power to improve because you want to stay at the school.
I think this matter can be settled. Ask them what you need to work on? And tell them to be specific? Like if it's classroom management then say-- ok-- how would you like me to handle my students? ask the administrator to be specific, and don't even mention your disability.
Ask for specific instructions as to how you can improve ( and follow them exactly how they want you to be) make sure they observing it 2 or they notice your efforts,- so when evaluations are done and contracts are renewed- You have something to fight over.-- THEN it will be discrimination- because you've exhausted every possibility and tried every way to accomodate them and they fired you anyway.
In the meantime, apply to different districts just in case they fire you so you have a back up plan, or go to transfer fairs.
Sorry you are at such a turning point. It must be difficult.
The laws are different for an employee and a student in terms of support. Actually they are even different for a child that is birth - 12th grade or age 21/22 and aging out of the special education system.
For adults with disabilities, the person must be able to do the job with reasonable accommodations. Not all jobs are doable for a person with a disability and even different people with the SAME disability category may or may not have the ability to do the same job. For example, a person with severe ADHD may not be able to do the job of a school teacher even with reasonable accommodations, but another person that is less impacted in the areas that impact the job may find success. It all depends on how the disability impacts you and what types of accommodations you would need. Some just can't be given at all workplaces.
You said, "What I hate is dealing with administration that is unsupportive and don't know how to work with an employee with ADHD." This leads me to believe there is more than one comment coming into play at your current school.
What type of accommodations are you asking for? Why do you see them as unsupportive and how will the support you are seeking make you better at your job?
Again, I'm sorry you are struggling. Based on your initial post, I'm wondering if there is more that you haven't shared or haven't recognized as an issue.
Dec 19, 2011
Talk to the union.
Could there be any accommodations that the school could implement for your ADHD that would have avoided this situation cropping up in the first place?
It seems like something is missing here in your information. What was the complaint concerning? I am playing devil's advocate, because as part time admin., we would NEVER not renew a contract because of ADHD. It makes no sense. This is a very controllable condition that is often an advantage for adults rather than a detriment. I would definitely delve deeper into this situation and sit down with both your Union rep. and your admin. Take in your evaluations, show them proof of your work ethic and ask for the opportunity to speak on your behalf as to the situation. It seems a bit extreme to think that ADHD is the cause unless it was specifically mentioned. I have worked in several districts in two states, and this would never be a reason or cause for termination.
This anecdotal situation may or may not apply. The OP mentioned that he/she often picked up the slack of others, spending an inordinate amount of time doing so. I worked with a teacher who had ADHD. He said yes to every extra job and activity. Instead of coming across as helpful, he came across as frazzled and disorganized. His over-active multitasking began to get grumbles from the staff instead of thank yous. And, his own planning and classroom management began to suffer because of taking on too many responsibilities.
I'm curious as to what accommodations an adult would expect an administration to provide for ADHD. I'm thinking of the things I do for my students with this eligibility (chunked tasks, less distractions, breaks when needed, teaching organization skills and impulse control, etc.) These are things an adult would have to do as self-accommodations.
Thank you for sharing your particular challenge. It's useful to know what my students might face when they become adults and in charge of managing their symptoms. I have a student now who really struggles with impulse control and calling out the first thing that comes to his mind. He's a very sweet kid and has good intentions, but ends up getting in trouble for silliness. I'm really going to work with him on giving himself wait time. I wonder if a countdown (3,2,1) before speaking would help him. I'm also wondering if he's on meds. I'll have to ask his parents when I see them for his IEP. Thanks and good luck with this issue you are facing.
I'm glad that the union is able to guide you in the right direction. Have you talked with the co-worker with whom you spoke without thinking?
I have several students who are ADHD and I understand the problems they have. I have often wondered about the accommodations/modifications that we do for them at school and how that relates in the work world. I've often wondered how far an employer has to go to accommodate an employee. I have to admit that if I had to constantly check in on my employee and possibly not give as much work as to others, etc. I would probably want to find what I would call a "more mature" employee. I think that an employer would want people who can do the job as they see fit. I realize that it doesn't sound very nice and as a sped teacher, I should certainly know better but that's kind of what I would feel like. I also have to say that if I had to take up the slack for a fellow teacher because they couldn't handle whatever what was on their plate but no more than anyone else, I would begin to resent it. I have issues too in that at times I'm disorganized but I also get a lot thrown at me because people think I can handle it. Why would my colleague have less work because they "can't" handle it? I would also have to say that because I am working with kids that have disabilities and it is a constant with patience, I doubt I would have any patience for a colleague that was struggling with the same issues! Sorry if I don't appear to have any sympathy...bad day today!
Cross country...not sure if you mentioned this, are you tenured?
I agree with you on most points. There comes a time at which "reasonable accommodations" are no longer reasonable. For me I think that happens when admin needs to check up on the teacher at too-frequent intervals or when the teacher's workload needs to be reduced significantly. I know that my opinion won't be a popular one, and I'm not trying to be hurtful by sharing it, but I do think it's worth considering.
I wish the OP good luck in this situation.
If you aren't tenured, you can be let go with no reason in most cases.
Did you ask for accommodations? As a professional adult in the workforce, I think that you have an obligation to advocate for yourself and ask for the accommodations you'll need. Your admin can't be expected to divine that sort of information.
You mention asking a co-worker for feedback and to let you know when you say something without thinking or when she hears anything about you. While it might be nice for your co-worker to give you that sort of feedback, I hope you recognize that it's not her job to do that. Presumably she has her own workload and it doesn't include monitoring you.
You mention your co-worker telling you that you take things too personally and that you need to let things go. What does she mean? What's the story here?
You also state that you don't have a lot of self-confidence. Is that a symptom of ADHD? Is that something that your admin can make accommodations for? While your level of self-confidence might be impacted by your ADHD, I'd venture to suggest that it's not your admin's place (or your co-worker's place) to help you improve your self-confidence. You're going to need to access your own resources on your own time in order to do that.
Finally, are you tenured?
Dec 20, 2011
Me too, mostly because the accommodations I will need when I get into the classroom will primarily revolve around my dysgraphia and motor skill issues, along with my muscle strength
A lot of people with disabilities have difficulty with self-confidence, self-esteem, etc.
I have issues with my self-esteem because I was treated horribly by people who told me they were my friends as a child, so I haven't had a friend since I was 9. I have been afraid to talk to people since then. I was discriminated against multiple times so far in the course of my education and nobody did anything to stop it.
YOu begin to feel helpless after a while, which just eats and eats and eats at your self-confidence, making you feel worthless.
A lot of PEOPLE have difficulties with self-confidence, self-esteem, etc. I've posted here about my own struggles with those things based, in part, on bullying that I experienced throughout school. I don't have ADHD.
Correlation doesn't equal causation. If it's not directly caused by ADHD, you can't expect admin to make accommodations for it.
I wish I would have read this a few years ago. This struck a cord. The results (in the rest of your post) displayed themselves differently but this part I am having to learn how to do at the moment. I call it trying to find my balance again. It got off kilter for a good while. My mind goes in so many places at once and wants to do so many things at once too. It isn't that I can't tell other people no. I don't get that many requests. It's that I struggle with telling myself no. Whether that means I'm overthinking my own tasks or volunteering to help someone else, it has indeed taken a toll that at the moment I'm trying to learn how to pick much more selectively.
I didn't see the Ops comments so I can't comment on this but I can tell you that I found a lot of positives to work with and a lot of strategies I had to use and some places I'm now having to take the time to learn how to get through and develop better strategies. I did have some support. We had several in the building with ADHD. Only one couldn't do the job but all of us had to find ways to make it work for us.
Looks like the op doesn't want to discuss this any further.
quick hijack: Technology will be your friend. I have horrible writing, so instead of writing on the whiteboard, I type lecture notes on a projected Word.doc as I speak. (The bonus is that the notes are saved for next time.) And students are great helpers: they will write notes on the board, lift books, move desks, make posters and signs, etc.
Just curious, do any teachers needing accomodations, or potential teachers of the same requirements, see the need to 'offer more'? In these competitive hiring times, school districts can afford to be highly selective. Given the choice between two highly qualified teachers, the one needing accommodations might be well advised to bring a bit more to the table. How do you rise 'above it all'? It's got o be tough...
Dec 21, 2011
I didn't get to see the original post, but I have ADD, and have never asked for accommodations at work. I did have to go back on medication to be able to deal with meetings and paperwork, but I think that my ADD has always been an asset when I am working directly with kids.
With some of the sentiment in this thread it's a wonder we have a Special Education system at all. It's almost like "what's the point," because a lot of educators seem to think that all the students get to help them make it should be dropped the second they're out of school. So what, we're preparing them with the best education we can give them so they're relegated to menial jobs like bagging grocers, washing dishes, and greeting us when we enter stores?
You cannot expect a blind person to do a job that requires sight out of the box, just as you cannot expect a person that has organizational problems (the disabled variant) to start out sharp with multitasking.
Is it so unreasonable to give a blind person an aide or a person that lacks organizational skills a more unified (easier to organize) workload?
Whether we (through taxes) give the blind person an aide to do a job that requires sight for some tasks or cut them a check for extra assistance to live as they work as a greeter at Wal-Mart (but by themselves) makes no difference. Either which way they get assistance, I'd rather see them provided with proper accommodations to do work for which they can be proud of and makes them eager and excited to go to work.
I get a little saddened reading some of these responses (though I missed the OP) from some of the same posters that usually come down pretty hard on people w/ disabilities, and their "abilities" and "reasonable accommodation" and "missing details," etc.
For whatever is or isn't above, if a person with disabilities cannot be a SPED teacher, of all things, then I don't know why we even have SPED at all -- because clearly it serves no purpose if it won't prepare students for work they actually want to do (because God forbid we accommodate them at a slight inconvenience and expense or at the slight hint of their job not being "fair"). There would be NO BETTER role-model for SPED students than a teacher w/ a disability. Forget posters and motivational talks, that teacher is the real deal.
Yeah. Luckily I am very tech savvy. None of the schools around me have projectors in the classrooms, though.
But that is what DVR is for, I guess. They will help pay for any assistive technology I will need to succeed in teaching. Although student teaching will be.. interesting.
Thank you so much for your response. I am glad that you rant because you took the words out of my mouth.
I deleted my posts because it was going nowhere fast. It was sad to see special education teachers come down hard on teachers with disabilities. I worked so hard and made it through a Master's degree and teach special ed. It seems like a special education teacher is looked down on because god forbid I have a disability and may need some accomodations in the work place.
I have gotten some accommodations on the job in the past. It is difficult to ask for in the community, much less a job. At least in the community, I know there is somewhere else I can go if that place absolutely refuses or if I'm fighting for it and there is retaliation. On our jobs, it is much more sensitive because we fear losing the job itself and it can be much harder to find another one as a result of losing one.
On my last job, I didn't necessarily ask for any but I had some nonetheless. Some were strategies I devised, some were things other people provided that I saw as an anchoring point and yet others were provided through support networks. I was able to do my job and do it quite well. I think sometimes we have to discover what works for us and what works within the systems provided. That does not mean, however, that we should be insensitive to it all. Everyone is different anyways. We in education should recognize that fact if no one else will. If it is a reasonable request and it does not dimish your ability to do the job, then we SHOULD be supportive of one another and legally there are rights we have.
Dec 22, 2011
Pete, you can never have a blind person doing a job that REQUIRES sight even with accommodations because of the definition of REQUIRES. Nor does the law cover someone that may with accommodations be able to do the job but not in a reasonable timeframe.
How are you going to get an assembly line worker that must make sure the top of a train is painted blue do the job if they are blind? Have someone stand there and whisper in their ear that the top is blue? Have a computer scan it and recognize the color without human interaction? If that is the case, no one would have the job the computer will.
There are jobs where someone can be slowly trained to do work that needs to be reasonably accommodated. However, we have to determine what 'reasonably accommodated' means. It doesn't mean someone doing the job FOR YOU. (OP, I am not saying you do this, you did make that very clear that you don't request others to do your work in your post you deleted.)
However, some jobs do not lend them well to 'reasonable accommodations' or only lend them well to certain levels of impact of a disability.
The job of a special education teacher is to work with students to learn. The hopes is they can also teach the students accommodations that will help them function when they get a job suitable for them. Even non-disabled people do best in jobs stuited to their strengths and weaknesses. Just because I wanted to be an astronaut doesn't mean I am capable.
We have asked OP multiple times what accommodations she is looking for and what is not being supported. No answers were forthcoming. But the fact remains, not every person with a disability will be suited or will be able to be accommodated sufficiently to do a particular job. A disability isn't a pass into any job someone wants. Protection for those disabled isn't a pass into any job someone desires. Not ever accommodation is reasonable. Requiring someone else to be your executive function isn't 'reasonable'. Having a planning sytem or routine very well might be, but the person with the disability needs to be the one to initiate the routine.
Yep. Harsh reality but the laws are different for adults in the workforce and students mandated to school. The hope is that the education provided had enough support and fading facilitation to grow a person from unable to follow a routine to capable of initiating a routine, but not everyone will a disability will get there. That person may not be suited for jobs that require more independence. That is just a fact of life.
It would have helped the conversation immensley if OP would have answered our questions. What accommodations is she looking for and HOW is she not being supported. We might have found some really creative ways that would be a benefit for all.
The law does protect those from people who think any accommodation that isn't already part of the job for everyone as unreasonable. Sometimes what is reasonable for some, won't be considered reasonable by others that might not be as open-minded.
There are times when an adult can ask for another person to help them complete the job. For example, a deaf person can ask for an interpreter for staff meetings or conferences. People might balk at it but legally it is considered reasonable.
I do agree, however, as adults we first have to know what we need to ask for it.
If the OP wants to PM me, I can share some strategies and accommodations I have used. It's not something I want to share on a public board. It may or may not be useful for you but it's worth a shot.
I don't see an interpreter as someone helping you complete your job. The interpreter is a communication device (the most efficient one for the environment at the time). The communication device doesn't make decisions for you or think for you, just provides all information spoken so that you can participate. It gives you access to the environment just like a wheelchair gives access to the environment for someone that can not walk. By having access to the communication, you can use your skills (which you were hired for) to perform the duties of the job.
Now is a wheelchair a 'reasonable accommodation' for a fire fighter that must go into burning buildings and save people? No. It is not, but it is one for many different jobs. This does not mean that someone can't be hired to be office support staff or another job that is doable from a wheelchair in a fire station or for the fire fighters, but 'reasonable accommodations' also comes from the job itself.
That is far different from someone that needs someone to perform major job functions for them or being completely relieved of major portions of a job.
Yes, there will always be those that believe NO ACCOMMODATION is ever acceptable. I know many teachers that are like that with students even though the law is supposed to protect the students, however, they are far and few between.
Do people resent having to do major portions of someone else's job FOR them but not be compensated for it because the other person has a disability and CAN'T do the job even with accommodations? Absolutely. The law does have grey areas, but the difference between your example and the blind person's example is that your accommodation doesn't make a co-worker do your job.
Before I was in a room with a screen, I hooked up my laptop to the TV (it had a VGA hookup). I also own a portable projector (given to me by a friend). You can project onto a whiteboard or buy your own presentation screen. I was able to buy a large old-fashioned screen on ebay pretty cheap.
I am not sure what accomodations I am asking for. I was hoping to get some ideas here. I am seriously trying to figure out how I can manage adhd and continue doing a job that I love. The only accomodation that I would like is to have my admin provide feedback or check in with me on a weekly basis so that I can be aware of any issues and come up with solutions so that I can make the changes. If I don't have that feedback, I don't know and I can't change.
I am able to do a large majority of my job without accomodations. I build in things that I do throughout the day such as using post-its, medications, calendars, schedules, data collection systems. I have the same number of students on my caseload as any other sped teacher. If anything, I teach a self-contained class for half the day. My paperwork or IEP is never out of compliance. Instruction, classroom and paperwork is great according to the principal. The issue is learning how to pick up on nonverbal cues from other people and impulsivity.
I am capable of doing my job. I went through a Master's program and earned a 3.9 GPA. I also received A's for all three of my required teaching experiences.
I know that this issue has stirred alot of strong emotions. I really just came here to get some ideas. I am sure that I am not the only teacher with ADHD. I want to know what those teachers are trying or what works.
We teach special education students. I understand that students learn differently and I expect that. Why can't special education teachers understand that when their colleagues face the same thing. Instead we are looked down for having a disability. We should be treated equal regardless of our disability. ADHD doesn't mean we are stupid or lazy.
All I want is ideas on what works for teachers that deal with adhd in the workplace? I don't want to get my hand slap because I am a special education teacher with a disability who is teaching students with same issues. I can relate to these students way more than teachers without disabilities.
I'd say the first thing you need to do is make an list of your challenges as a teacher. (These may or may not have anything to do with ADHD.) Bring your challenges to your admin and ask for some observations and feedback (but don't tell the admin you think the challenges are due to ADHD, because they may just be areas of need for improvement that all new teachers face.) After you get feedback, you can put yourself on a personal improvement plan that takes ADHD into consideration.
Asking for observations and feedback is good teaching practice. It is NOT an accommodation. It is part of reflective teaching and shows a proactive approach to improvement.
I highly recommend not sharing your challenges with other teachers. Just like any other workplace, not all of your colleagues have your best interest in mind. And some will gossip and tear you down.
At my school, we do have teachers observe each other. But, this is because we are a school with teacher observations as one of our official norms. If your school doesn't have that as part of its culture, I'd not ask teachers to observe you. I'd also suggest only asking other teachers specific questions (about management or organization, etc). Don't mention ADHD. (Some teachers outside of sped do not understand ADHD as being anything other that a label that is thrown around to describe hyperactive and disorganized students.)
On the other hand, you may be able to observe other teachers during your planning period. This can be extraordinarily helpful. I'm lucky to be able to observe other teachers as part of my job (an inclusion teacher) and it's made a huge difference in my own teaching. I watch how they manage their students, paperwork, projects, grading, lesson planning. Then I reflect on my own practices and make changes.
I guess I'm basically suggesting to take the words accommodations and ADHD out of the picture as far as your admin and colleagues are concerned. Just present yourself as a reflective teacher who wants to develop a plan for improving your practices.
Special-t was right. A list of areas in which you are struggling is important in order to get help from others. ADHD is such a broad area that impacts people in various ways as you know.
You said you struggle picking up on non-verbal language. By co-workers, students, or everyone? When does this happen? How do you end up learning you missed it?
You struggle with impulsivity. How and when?
What other areas do you struggle in or do you just always feel overwhelmed.
The other think to note is every school works differently and what may work in one school/grade/class may not work with another.
What kind of feedback do you want from the P and how do you expect to get it?
I think that Special T and A2Z are correct. A reflective teacher is one who wants to improve on whatever NEEDS to be improved. It also means that you listen to feedback from other teachers and administrators, paras and even students to figure out what works and what could be better. This practice really has nothing to do with anything but trying to be a better teacher! I have learned over the years that it is important to be an advocate for yourself period. But it is also important to express that need in the correct manner.
I'm sorry that you felt people were attacking. I'm also sorry that I didn't understand that you wanted only other teachers with ADHD to respond to you. It doesn't change my response but I wanted you to know what other teachers may perceive of you. Good luck in whatever you do. Please do reflect about your teaching. It will make you a better teacher.
The districts around here don't have TVs in the classrooms (Do other schools have this?)
No whiteboards either.
I could probably get a projection screen rather cheap (My dad works in the AV business and he could probably convince his boss, the owner of the company, to buy a screen with a business discount)
have you considered trying biofeedback to help with the ADHD?
Dec 23, 2011
The district I work in and the district I grew up in both had whiteboards and TVs in every classroom. I can't think of the last time I've been inside a classroom without both those things. I think they're both very common, although I'm sure that there might be districts here and there that don't have them.
We have whiteboards in every classroom, but 5 TVs and 4 projectors for our school of 750.