my favorite butterfly, the Common Blue Morpho
Unfortunately, I decided to usher my kids out of the butterfly exhibit sooner than usual (thankfully it was a nice day and we could walk outside at the rest of the gardens)...not because of my students' behavior, as I might have expected (those of you who were at the Michigan Blogger Meetup might remember my field trip horror story about feeding the birds at the zoo!), but because of some of the other kids from other school groups who were there.
Most of my students have very visible disabilities, and we are used to stares and questions when we go out into the community. I don't mind other kids looking and asking questions about and to my students - they are usually just very genuinely curious and it's a good opportunity to do a little education about disabilities. My students are used to this, as well, and generally like it when other kids ask questions about their wheelchairs, braces, etc.
This time, though, we got the stares, sure. But - and this is a first in my 8 years of teaching - we didn't get questions...instead, we got rude, hurtful comments. One of my students has some scars and sores on his face due to some pretty severe self-injury behaviors. And instead of just ignoring this, or whatever, several other kids we encountered felt it was appropriate to very loudly make comments like, "Eeeewwwww!" and "Look at that!" and "That's so gross!!!" while pointing at my student (who, by the way, understands perfectly everything everyone else says, even though he is nonverbal himself).
What made it worse was the teachers/parent chaperones who were with these kids did not address the issue at all. It seemed to be a non-issue with them. And they had to have heard their little darlings being so rude and hurtful. It's not like it was just one kid, either; it was several. I was appalled! If one of my students had been speaking so rudely about another child, I'd have sat them down right then and there and let them know it was unacceptable. Maybe even had them apologize, if I didn't think that would make the situation worse for the other child. I just don't get it! The kids were old enough (probably first or second graders?) to know better, and at the very least, the adults in charge of them could have said something. I was furious! And offended for my student, whose feelings were (very understandably) hurt.
I kind of wish I would have said something myself, but I was just focused on getting my kids out of there (and what I would have said "in the moment" probably wouldn't have been a good example of gracious correcting, anyway). I do wish I would have noted what school the kids were from...
Regular ed teachers: do you think I was expecting too much in thinking the kids should have known better? In thinking the adults should have addressed the issue as it happened? How do you prepare your students, if at all, for "different" kids they may encounter while out and about?
Special ed teachers: Have you ever encountered anything like this? What, if anything, do you think I should have done or said? Even a few days later, my heart is still hurting over this...