Two Teachers: One Classroom



January 11, 2021 | Amplifying Diversity, Amplifying Student Voices

Sarah McGuire is a 2nd-year student majoring in Business Administration. “When I was a freshman at Guttman, I learned about this lesson called Single Stories that was taught by Dr. Bahl. I decided that the topic discussed on this submission “Two Teachers One Classroom” was worth sharing because it is something that I have always felt ever since I was in middle school.”

I grew up in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and was always filled with curiosity about my childhood. I remember how gentle my parents’ voices were as they answer my questions. You can imagine the number of questions I had, and there were a lot. This is pretty impressive for a little girl going to Elementary school where the standard questions were, “What is your favorite snack?”, “Which animal is your favorite?” and our all-time favorite, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” How would a 5-year-old have an appropriate answer for that? Nevertheless, of course, yours truly had a fantastic career in mind, and before you hear it, you may want to take a seat.

I wanted to be a guidance counselor, and I know what you are thinking. You were expecting an unexpected response, like wanting to be a fairy or a princess. However, no, I chose “Guidance Counselor.” I decided on that career because this lady in my elementary school was very nice to all the kids. I thought the requirement to be a guidance counselor was to be kind to kids. I was not entirely familiar with what that career entails, but I somewhat knew what a speech and language therapist was.

How so, you may ask? I had a speech and language therapist from the age of 4 to 15 years old. My mother would explain that during pre-school, I was tested to see if I needed an IEP. IEP stands for Individualized Education Program, and it is a written document that describes the educational plan for a student with a disability. The purpose of an IEP is to make sure that everyone, including me, my family, and school staff to knows what my education plan for the year entails. The test results have shown that I needed it, but I never thought of it that way.

Meaning, during the six years of Elementary school, I thought it was normal to have two teachers in a classroom. I did not know there was anything unique with that until I got into middle school. My middle school was unique because it is a K-8 school and did not consider itself a middle school until 7th grade.

There was this time during the afterschool program, or it had to be during my lunchroom in 7th grade. I would often be apart of engaging conversations, and this time it was surrounding the topic of early learning/childhood. So, I begin to explain that I had an IEP and explain what that means and why I needed it. My classmate waited for me to be done with my story and expressed his opinion. He was like, “Oh wow, so then why are you not sitting with those kids’? He was referring to a class with only special education students with physical disabilities. I remember being taken aback by his statement because I did not expect that response. However, looking back at it, I could understand how his mind went there.

For so long, disabilities and IEPs would often be confused with one another. People often make assumptions about that have disabilities and assume that there is only one criterion. To them, they believe that disabilities are only physical, and that would just be it. Disabilities are a vast spectrum and not often talked about to educate students about their peers. Some students may have learning or physical or even vision/hearing disabilities. This single-story hurts students alot because of how judgemental their peers can get because they do not understand what they go through and what limitations they have because of their disability. They are always treated differently, which causes them to get bullied. I had a classmate who had a physical disability during my senior year for my journalism class. In this class, we always had a do-now that required us to share out, and she wanted to participate. She started to share her story, and she got very emotional in the middle of it. She explained that her obvious disability causes her to work twice as hard as a “normal” kid in any of her classes. She wanted to be more than a girl who had a disability. I believe that it is wrong that society forces students like my classmate to feel less than their worth. I felt bad. After all, I never considered the struggles she went through because I always talk to her just like any ordinary classmate I ever had. She is a perfect role model for any kid who has a disability, and we all should have a hunger for education just like her.