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Fear & Loathing in Special Education

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Proudly Walking Over Burned-Out Bridges

Posted 07-03-2010 at 06:54 AM by Speced9

The way I figure it, there's three distinct ways a teacher can handle themselves in the political arena we call the education system. There's the person who understands how wrong things can be, but doesn't rock the boat. There's the person who recognizes the wrongfulness of administrative decisions, but rocks an imaginary boat (usually after they've had a few). Then there's guys like me who don't care about what's popular and go with what's right. We approach that boat, rock the hell out of it, and leave a fiery trail behind.

For the first time in my career, I'm facing the consequences of my actions.

Back in 2002, I began a Master's program that was long over due. Years before that, many of my colleagues went the administrative route, but I just couldn't bring myself to do the same. I wanted my Master's degree to be a means of broadening my skills and not an invitation to become one of the living dead we call administrators.

As luck would have it, our local university started a Master's program that allowed students to choose their own field of study. The process consisted of writing a proposal of learning needs, coursework and justifications that was presented to a committee who would approve, or disapprove your program. My area of study was educational technology, so my needs were based in tech usage within the field of special education.

My program was approved and I began my four year adventure towards a Master's degree. I did a lot of independent study for subject areas that were not addressed by the university's communications program. For one of those independent studies, the director of special ed. in my district at the time served as my advisor.

At the close of that semester, I had a chat with her that foreshadowed events to come. She told me that she wanted to create a position for a teacher instructional leader in the area of technology specifically for special education. I told her that yes, I would be interested in such a position, but deep down I knew that such a position would never be created by THE POWERS THAT BE. It was too obvious a need for them to follow through on.

Moving ahead five years to the present, I'm finding that my hunch was correct. TPTB never created such a position on their own. I did forget about one thing though. It never occurred to me that a group more powerful than TPTB would force them to do it. Well, that's exactly what happened. A parent group was instrumental in having the position created through due process. So, there it was, just like that. Score another victory for the parents!

The technology instructional leader for my school tipped me off to the job's creation this week. As I read the job description, it felt like I was reading an anonymous version of my career highlights-

must have Master's degree in technology-related field......

must have five plus years of special education classroom experience.....

must be able to communicate effectively....
Well, as long as they don't read this blog I'm safe.

must have refrained from rocking the administrative boat in recent years....

They've got me there.

You see, there were a couple of things that I had to act on this past school year that just might have put me on the personnel director's bad side. The first was helping push for an additional self-contained classroom at my school, and the second was a situation where another teacher in our building was physically and verbally bullying others. In both situations, the director was playing politics (which is a nice way to say that he was being an authoritative a-hole), and I had to call him on it. As a matter of fact, I had to call him on it via THE SCHOOL BOARD. Then I persuaded my colleagues to do the same. Oh, and the union got involved too. So, I'm pretty certain that my picture must be on a dart board somewhere in his office. Surely a little thing like contacting his boss wouldn't be cause for a grudge, would it? Yeah, you're right. I'm thinking the same thing. Well, at least I didn't involve the press.

Seriously though, this job was tailor-made for me. I've always been far ahead of my colleagues when it comes to technology use in my special needs classroom. Technology has always been a part of my life. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons I got the Master's in Ed. Tech and the Technology Specialist endorsement on my certificate was to have it officially written down on paper that I'm a tech guy. I already had the skills, but not the credentials to prove it.

Which brings me back to this job and my fate. My dilemma on this is as such:

1. This is the only educational job I've ever considered doing if I wasn't in the classroom. I love sharing and helping others make their classrooms better, especially when it comes to using technology. I'm also an obvious choice within the district. My name has come up many, many times when discussing the possibility of this position in the past.

2. I'm certain that if I apply I have no chance because of my boat rocking, but I'll regret it later if I don't. Five years down the line when I'm peeved about some kind of self-contained program issue, I don't want to be saying to myself,

3. Even if fate is smiling upon me and I'm offered the job (because TPTB all took a plane ride together and perished in a fiery crash thus bringing in new PTB who aren't aware of me), I'm not so sure I want to leave the classroom at this time. I have so many good things going on, and unfinished business to take care of.

At first, I came to the decision that I wasn't going to apply. I even went so far as to contact my superiors and tell them that I wasn't going to apply because I'm such an obvious choice for the position.

After that, I hopped back on the fence again. I doubted my decision. I contacted a couple of friends of mine in the tech division, and they urged me to apply. They thought I was the right guy for the job. I contacted the person I know from the parent group, and she said the same thing. They weren't making this any easier. So, back off the fence and on to the other side.

Finally, I came to this conclusion- I have to apply. There's no bones about it. I have to apply, or I'll regret it. Sure, there's the possibility that my application will get a good laugh out of the director of peronnel,


But....I have to do it. So, I did. I did it with the thought that I'm applying only. I don't expect to get offered the job. I burned my bridges and and did so proudly. So, I guess if I ended up trading another career avenue for the benefit of my students, so be it. I did what was right, and that's all that matters.

I'll keep you all posted.

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Total Comments 10


  1. Old Comment
    NoElephants's Avatar
    I'm sending good vibes for you! I sure hope you get the position.

    I too am a boat rocker, but it's always to be an advocate for what is right for kids. TPTB just don't get it!
    Posted 07-03-2010 at 07:28 AM by NoElephants NoElephants is offline
  2. Old Comment
    BigwigRabbit's Avatar
    I'll bet you three dollars you get the job anyway.
    Posted 07-03-2010 at 03:14 PM by BigwigRabbit BigwigRabbit is offline
  3. Old Comment
    starfish92's Avatar

    let us know

    when you get the job!!!!!!! If you are the obvious choice it is possible that you may get it dispite the boat rocking--but you may get it because of it! It might be that they "think" that getting you out of the classroom will "nutralize" you! HA! We know better. Good luck--now I know who to PM for teck help. I'm going back into the classroom to start an ADL program and I'm just a bit scared! Big changes for both ou us!
    Posted 07-04-2010 at 12:46 PM by starfish92 starfish92 is offline
  4. Old Comment
    musicbug's Avatar

    Now they need you

    because the powers that be, powers that be say so. Since you have everything going except playing nice with TPTB they may over look it to have someone great that they can put through all the dog and pony shows and look brilliant. Good luck to you.
    Posted 07-04-2010 at 01:41 PM by musicbug musicbug is offline
  5. Old Comment

    Look at it this way--

    Look at it this way--either God put you on this course five years ago and wants you in this job and no one, not even the evil personnel director, can stop it, OR God has a wonderful sense of humor and is laughing along with the personnel director.

    Either way, you'll know soon which way it will go. I do think things happen for a reason. More people are for you than against you. It'll be hard for the personnel person to keep you from getting the job when so many people are pulling for you.

    Why don't you contact some of the parents (or have someone else contact them) to see if they can put on the same kind of pressure they did to get the position created in the first place? We're pulling for you!!
    Posted 07-04-2010 at 02:04 PM by Scully
  6. Old Comment
    Hideeho's Avatar

    I'm glad you decided to apply

    You need this validation for yourself if nothing else.

    My bet, and hey I'll go $3.00 too, is that TPTB will have to hire you because you've rocked the boat. They know that if they don't hire you, you're the kind of guy who will keep on doing what's right and nail them on something for not hiring you! Ta Da! Do you like how I got that all worked out for ya?

    Good luck!
    Posted 07-04-2010 at 06:01 PM by Hideeho Hideeho is offline
  7. Old Comment
    fiona1's Avatar


    Remember what "they" say: "Keep your friends close, your enemies closer" If the Personnel Director is following this adage you are all set. This takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there, to seek change- good luck and I hope it goes your way! What will happen to this blog? I will miss it- you are so creative, insightful and sarcastic- I love it!
    Posted 07-07-2010 at 09:03 AM by fiona1 fiona1 is offline
    Updated 07-07-2010 at 09:04 AM by fiona1 (punctuation)
  8. Old Comment
    Peacebluekitty's Avatar

    You go!

    I am a boat rocker but in the closet kind of! I don't always go for what is popular, but often say what I think is right for who ever is involved including the kids, and at the school I am at now I have gotten some looks. So I want to cheer you on! You did what was right, and I think you will get the job, too. But no matter what, you did what you thought was right. God will place you where He thinks you need to be. Sounds to me like you really don't have anything to lose, because you don't hate where you are now and can be an asset in either position. Sounds to me like whoever makes this decision is the one who has a lot to lose. Blessings to you. You've got me rooting for you. 'Loved reading your blog.
    Posted 07-07-2010 at 06:19 PM by Peacebluekitty Peacebluekitty is offline
  9. Old Comment
    Speced9's Avatar


    Well, believe it, or not, I got through the first hurdle and was called for an interview. I went for it yesterday, and it went very well. I had lots of samples to back up my tech achievements (manuals, studies, etc. I've done for the district in the past). That was pretty darn funny. They'd ask a question, I'd start to answer, then say, "Oh, here. This is a copy of what I did on that subject two years ago." Then I'd continue answering the question. Boy, I tell you, if there's one way to confuse an admin, it's doing something that isn't the norm.

    Really, I'm in a great position here. If I don't get offered the job, I'm still going back to the classroom I enjoy at the greatest school ever. If I do get offered the job, I will take it as long as I can insure that it won't be a hatchet job two years down the line. We soon shall see. I'm supposed to know the outcome within a week.

    Thanks for your comments, by the way. I appreciate you people!
    Posted 07-09-2010 at 10:49 AM by Speced9 Speced9 is offline
  10. Old Comment

    I am soooo cheering for you...

    through your BLOGS I feel/see your passion for what you do! Life is good when you truly love what you do!
    Posted 07-22-2010 at 07:05 PM by I Luv SpEd I Luv SpEd is offline

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