Veteran special education teacher Mrs. Ris reveals how she copes with stress and maintains perspective in the many wrenching situations she faces in her work:

One way I am able to manage myself and my response to my emotionally disabled students is to meditate daily. I try to pray for a peacefulness, a centeredness that will allow me to do my best everyday, despite the terrible stress, and frequent disappointments. …
Anyway, this one small prayer, 7 short words, hit me hard last night as I went searching for guidance and peace.
Lord, help me not be an obstacle.
Somedays, that's all I can ask for.

Your prayer is perfectly articulated. I'm a first-year middle school Special Ed teacher-- a far cry from a veteran like you-- and that's how I'm feeling half of the time: Dear Lord, I know the chaos will eventually settle and the class will soon be over, but please God, just don't let me make things worse. Thanks for the words.

Remember that we are standing down as the hands of God in the lives of our special kids. If we don't teach them, they will not be taught. If we don't stand up for them they will be lost in the shuffle. They will be excluded, suspended, reprimanded and expelled if they don't have a good SPECIAL educator to stand up for them, believe in them and protect them. Regular teachers cannot do it. They are attuned to the group, to the test, to the grade. They only have them one year so if they make a mistake hopefully the next teacher can do better. We are the lives of our children. And when that autistic kid gives you a hug, or that little multi finally pushes a switch and shows you what you can do, or that supposedly non-verbal child learns 29 words in a year, and shortly after he greets you again, gets blown God knows where by Katrina and you cry, or your other supposedly non-verbal child says you are "Good, Good Good", then you have your rewards and it is worth being a SPECIAL Educator. Hold your head up. Pray for your babies daily. Pray that God gives you wisdom and perseverance and creativity----but not patience. You don't need that. If you are too patient you won't accomplish anything.

If you love your babies and want what is best for them and try to do what is best for them, you are not ever an obstatcle---not even if you have PMS, got no sleep the night before and your dog got run over by a car and is in the freezer waiting to be buried when you get off work. You are not an obstacle. You are the pinnacle of an educator. You are SPECIAL ED.

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