George Lucas Educational Foundation

Getting Injured Part of the "Job" or Not

Getting Injured Part of the "Job" or Not

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Recently it seems that it is becoming more the expectation that special educators will be injured on the job, and furthermore we should not complain or file accident reports. I am CPI trained and have never had to use restraint until this year. I avoid it even to getting injured myself. However when injured I will file a report. Personally I think that the student and the teacher have equal rights to be safe in the classroom setting. If restraint has to be used repeatedly shouldn't a behavior manifestation meeting be held and LRE discussed? Are other special ed teachers getting hurt on the job?

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jjd005's picture
K-3 Emotional and Behavioral Disorders Special Education Teacher

This past year was my worst year for injuries or the threat of injuries occurring in the classroom. I am also trained for dealing with crisis situations. I have had the opportunity to receive MANDT training. Unfortunately, it hasn't seemed to make a significant difference.

I know we are required by law to intervene with students to prevent the students hurting themselves or others, but I am beginning to wonder if we are doing enough? I know we all put in 110%, but what if we are focusing on the reactive rather than the proactive? How can we change what we are doing in our classrooms, so risk of injury due to restraints can decrease? I have read some great literature this summer on novel approaches for working with kids in crisis and I can't wait to implement them in my classroom this fall.

Anne's picture
special ed middle school mod to severe

I work with severely disabled kids. One of our teachers was fired as she tried to restrain a violent student to keep her from hurting herself and others. The teacher ended up in the emergency room bloody and battered but not one mark on the student. The teacher had begged for training but got none. Our union fought it but eventually the teacher ended up with a "deal" or settlement that she left but they gave her a lump sum. And she got to keep. her license. Now we have cameras in every classroom. They cant afford raises for the past 6 years but they can afford cameras to spy on us. I will not put my hands on another child. From now on if someone goes off my aide will remove the other students and I will keep something between the student and myself. Not condusive for a education environment but I am not a punching bag and they have tied my hands. Our union (oea) stated to make a police report no matter what if you are hurt. And Ohio law says you can use equal force not more but equal to protect yourself. Not sure it would hold up in court but that is what we were told.

Mandy's picture

I know very well what you are all going through, I was desperate to help my staff..we are using arm guards and protective clothing at the moment, they are great, they protect against scratching, biting, pinching, they even do some with added protection for kicks..i know it's only part of the solution, but try them : Stay safe!

Roshana Tma's picture

Hi all, I came cross this page by google search. I am glad I found this page to get the reality of special education field to decide better whether I want to continue studding school psychology . I am sorry of all these physical pressures I am hearing. I am studding school psychology and I have heard similar things happen to school psychologists. I have heard they were hit, thrown at the floor by the students. But I am not sure if it happens as often as it happens for special education teachers. I appreciate if you guys could give me your ideas about this situation. Do you think the same things will happen for school psychologists?

Thank you very much
I appreciate your insights and helps

Alex Shevrin's picture
Alex Shevrin
Community college teacher, former school leader, Edutopia community facilitator

Hi Roshana, I know it's different at every single school, so I can only speak from my perspective, but I think your experience will be shaped by the policies at your school and approach to helping students self-regulate. Students are physically aggressive when they lack the skills to regulate their emotions and control their body's response to stress. If you are in a trauma-informed school setting, your school will likely have approaches that help build those skills in students and while you may occasionally have an experience with a student who is dysregulated, those incidents will be addressed through restorative practices and decrease as the student gains skills. If students are getting in your physical space often, you should absolutely make sure your supervisor and many others know - never be alone with something like that. And you should never feel like you have to be "okay" with a student making physical contact with you- even if it's part of your job to mange that sometimes, it will bring up difficult emotions and you deserve to work through those emotions in a way that is safe for you.

I have lots more thoughts on this - feel free to private message me to chat more! And good luck - school psychologists are so important!

Erin Garrett's picture

My mother has been teaching special ed for nearly 20 years. Her first position was at a state mandated, residential treatment center where the burn out rate was less than 2 years. She pushed through that post well beyond that 2 year point before going in to teach in the public school system. To suggest that there is a "lack of training" is absurd. Special ed teachers are not only required to get re-certified for their education training every couple of years but they also receive specialized training on how to deal with preventing and responding to violence within the classroom. I take offense, as I am sure these teachers do, to anyone suggesting that a teacher can receive any training to thwart or deter a 17 year old male from sucker punching them in the chest, unprevoked during class time. These situations happen and you are not likely to hear about them on the news as teachers are discouraged from filing formal charges with local law enforcement. Would you want you child in a school setting with students that have done this?

Kim Adigwe's picture

I am a substitute teacher's aide, several months ago I was working in a high school and was violently attacked by one of the male autistic students. I was simply sitting at a table and the student jumped on me and began choking me. It took three other male teachers to get him off of me. My larynx was partially crushed in the attack and I was sent to the emergency room via ambulance. Unfortunately, there were other students in the classroom that witnessed the attack and have been traumatized as a result. The attack was sudden and unprovoked and this was not the first incident with this particular student. He had attacked several other kids in the high school. As a result of this experience I will no longer be working with special needs students, the risk simply isn't worth it. No teacher or student asks for this and should not be expected to have to put up with this kind of behavior from another student. When it is determined that a student has these kinds of violent tendencies they really shouldn't be allowed in the public schools.

Nancy Welch's picture

This is shocking. Special education teacher have more training than general education teachers - training with behavior and violent/crisis prevention and intervention, and training regarding disabilities, needs, etc.

Deb...'s picture

I strongly disagree. Some students are very troubled emotionally, in a different setting they would probably be restrained, but schools do not allow that.

Veteran teachers have been trained but the trend toward more and more aggressive being "accepted", is frightening.

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