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Fear & Loathing in Special Education

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Unofficially Taking the Plunge

Posted 03-05-2011 at 05:57 AM by Speced9

As stated in a previous blog, a colleague of mine is retiring at the end of this school year. When I found this out in August, I realized that I needed to consider a shift in my special education career. I have taught in a self-contained classroom K-2 for the past sixteen years. It's had its ups and downs, but 99% of my time has been enjoyable as hell. Still, I couldn't help thinking that I'm at that point where I need to start planning on how I'm going to spend the golden years of my career.

My colleague who is retiring will leave a resource position wide open in June. I knew early on that if I wanted to slide right in there I needed to express interest early on which I did. It's a good thing I did too, because many people have inquired about the position in this latter half of the school year.

When 2nd semester started, I went through the pros and cons of leaving the classroom where I have had many successes, built a reputation of excellence and enjoy the spoils of being a seasoned special educator. I finally decided that this was my chance at change and that I should take advantage of it. Though it's very hard to leave something at what I consider the apex of experience, I know that I'd rather leave at the top of my game than to wait until I'm possibly burned-out and desperate for change. So, I started the ball rolling.

I have a few hoops to go through before I can officially announce to my colleagues that I'm making the switch. First was my principal's blessing. I had that when I first brought up the subject in September. That was the easy part. The hard part was going through the next two hoops.

These hoops are more like DEATH-DEFYING-FLAMING HOOPS OF RED TAPE because they involve THE POWERS THAT BE within the special education department and the district. Yes, there was a time not so long ago when a principal had power to shift around their staff however they wanted. Those days are gone. Now, the people who have most of the power in the district want ALL the power in the district, so you have to get on your hands and knees and grovel to get any kind of change. I think there's ring kissing in there somewhere too.

So, DEATH-DEFYING-FLAMING HOOP #1 is the special education brass. Did I mention that I've pissed them off in the last few years? Just check out the archives of this blog and you'll find a few examples. The predictable thing about them is that they always do the opposite of what you think they will do. Something you think is no big deal will get rejected by these jokers, and something that you think is going to be a fight goes over with out a hitch. I'm pretty sure that Valium, or lack thereof plays a roll in all this, but I don't have proof yet. So, within days of my principal inquiring about my switch with the special ed. brass, I had their blessing too. This was a shock to me, but I finally decided that they must think that I'll be less of a pain in the ass as a resource teacher than I am in my current self-contained position. In no way do I think that they have my personal happiness in mind.

That brings me to DEATH-DEFYING-FLAMING HOOP #2- the Director of Personnel, or as I like to call him, Dr.Yertle the Turtle, he who believes is the master of all he can see. Did I mention that I've pissed him off too? Actually, this is a DEATH-DEFYING HOOP within a hoop because my principal and the special ed. brass have played tag on who should be asking Dr. Yertle if I can change positions.

"You ask him!"
"No, you ask him!"

Believe it, or not, that's where this whole situation has come to a grinding halt. I actually called the special ed. brass and said, "What is it that has to happen for me to officially begin the process of changing over next year?"

My answer was, "When your principal talks to Dr. Yertle and gets the okay." So, they basically threw the ball right into my principal's lap on that one. When I told her that little bit of info, her reply was, "I thought they were going to okay it through him!" Yikes.

My princ is a good one though, so she ponied up, climbed to the top of the great tower of turtles and sent Dr.Yertle an email. Trust me, even an email to this guy is extreme bravery. So, that's where we're waiting....and waiting....and waiting....

There's still plenty of time though, so I'm not panicking yet, plus, this gives me the opportunity to think ahead about how I will proceed when the official word comes down the stack. My first thought on this is the order in which I will tell my colleagues.

The very first person I'll tell is my attendant. Despite being a pain in my rear for 16 years, she's the one who will be affected by my actions the most. Also, she probably won't understand what I'm saying to her, so when I'm done telling everyone, I can go back and explain it to her again. My guess is that she'll think that she's going to be my "resource attendant" and make the move with me. Yes, she is that bad of a listener.

Second, I'll let my self-contained partner, the teacher who teaches the 3-5 crowd across the hall from me in on the action. This is the one I feel most guilty about since this is her first year and I'm somewhat of a mentor for her. With the possibility that Yertle will throw in some friend's fresh out of college son or daughter in my vacated position instead of letting my self-contained colleagues across the district a chance to transfer in, the whole self-contained program at my school has the potential for being up for grabs.

Third, I will let my more active parents know. This will be a tough one. These are the parents who have praised me and thanked me for working with their children. My exit will put thoughts of dread into their heads. It will be my job to ease their fears by letting them know that whoever replaces me can do the same things I've done for their child. Also, I'm not leaving the building, so rest assured, I'll will be available to take a mentor role if any of my current students take a plunge next year. I may leave my current position, but I will never abandon my children.

Fourth, I'll let my dear neighbors in my hallway know. These are the K-2 teachers I have enjoyed working along side with for many years. They've welcomed my students into their classrooms with open arms. If I successfully make the change to resource, these are the people I will see less of because I'll be based in another part of the school building. I'm not exaggerating when I say there will probably be tears when I break that news.

Then, finally, I'll let the rest of the school know. This will undoubtedly piss my retiring colleague off because she has a friend that she's already decided should take her place next year. Unfortunately, she doesn't understand, yet, that things don't work that way anymore. So, I'll have a little fall out over that.

My main concern after the cat is let out of the bag will be learning how things work as far as resource scheduling, and getting to know the students I will serve next year a little better. The most daunting task will be going through sixteen years of K-2 materials and deciding what I should store and what I should let go of. Let's just say that I don't plan on leaving at the ring-ring of the dismissal bell on the last day of school. I figure I have a few days work on that one.

Still, I can't think too far ahead without the image of Dr. Yertle's kingdom crashing through my thoughts. It's still up to him, unfortunately, so for now, I wait.....and wait....and wait....

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Total Comments 1


  1. Old Comment
    starfish92's Avatar

    if I may suggest

    I have changed positions a number of times in the last 30 years in special ed. From today on look at everything you use and make a mental note of "can you live without it". DO NOT THROW/GIVE ANYTHING AWAY unless you make note of who you gave what to and make it known that if you need it-you may ask for it back. I gave away thousands of dollars worth of various "stuff" that now I could kick myself as I replace it. Although to be honest now that I am back in a full time teaching position many collegues have returned materials.
    I wish you all the best in this new venture. There is a whole new world out there........
    Posted 03-07-2011 at 06:26 PM by starfish92 starfish92 is offline

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