I've been in this field for a while. Since 2000, really, when I took a job as a youth counselor in a "rehabilitation program for adjudicated youth" -- i.e. kiddie jail. I fled from juvenile "justice" to working as a para because I thought it couldn't be nearly as hard. hahaha joke was on me! :)
I was a 1-on-1 para for J. with Angelman Syndrome
a summer preschool para for a boy with cerebral palsy and a girl with suspected Angelman Syndrome
and ABA implementer for a preschooler with autism
then, all through grad school:
waiver/ community support worker (full time and part time)
conductive education aide
now speech implementer as I work toward my certification in special ed. And yes, I've done stupid things, silly things, unprofessional things as I grew up learning this job. But I always had the belief somewhere that if I acted in good faith, things would be okay. I wouldn't be a horror story in the courts somewhere. People would just know I intended well.
One of my students is in a little trouble and now it is becoming legal trouble, I'm afraid. I heard there might be a lawsuit and I was okay with that -- thinking of what I could do to support his family. Then I remembered that I would probably be the defendant, not the plaintiff. As I gathered evidence through my files, I kept thinking "Which one of my colleagues am I setting up for this?" I'd pass teachers in the hall that I had complained about in reference to this case and I felt guilty.
Not so guilty that I didn't go ahead and spill my guts to the student's advocate, giving them ammo to use against me if needed. But another colleague is also having legal trouble with a student and I support him. And I think, holy crap! This is what I've raised my hand for. This sort of life where I have to look over my shoulder all the time, where I have to play against kids, their parents, people I work with and respect.
Dude, I need to join my state teacher's association for the legal representation, like now.
I am a bit proud though I decided to NOT help anyone circle any wagons and instead work for the kid. Whether or not he knows it... or cares... I just have to tread carefully in this field.
Man. Special ed is a minefield. And we return to it everyday. I don't know why some times....