ProTeacher Community

ProTeacher Community (
-   Special Education (
-   -   Other Why do you teach Special Ed? (

NewCAteacher 07-10-2016 10:55 AM

Why do you teach Special Ed?
So, why did you choose this field? I love to hear why others chose this career as well :)

eeza 07-10-2016 12:15 PM

being in SPED
I will start off by saying that I am not a teacher; I am school psych. I was a gen ed teacher before but left the classroom. I enjoyed working with the kids, but it was just too much. I decided that I still wanted to be around kids and help them learn, so I became a school psych.

What I liked about the classroom was working with the kids in small groups and one-on-one when they were struggling. I wanted to continue to help students in that way. Now I do individual and group counseling which is similar to what I liked about the classroom. I also do testing which is individual. Working with teachers is great because I can empathize with them. I think they appreciate it too. Sure, there are a lot of meetings and working with parents, but I have always been fine with that. It's just more than it was before.

I know you wanted a teacher story, but I thought I'd share anyway! :D

NewCAteacher 07-10-2016 01:59 PM

Actually that was a really helpful response. I love working with the struggling kids. I really do. But sometimes...I wonder if I can actually do this, you know, classroom teaching, for the rest of my career. I always thought that if I decide not to teach forever, I would look into school psych. My undergrad degree is in psychology. I enjoy what I do very much, but the constant planning and accountability for student success feels impossible sometimes. Thanks for your input :)

eeza 07-10-2016 02:55 PM

being in SPED
I'm glad I was able to help! If you have any questions about becoming a school psych, let me know. :D

readandweep 07-10-2016 06:39 PM

1:1, smal group
I guess my flip, brutally honest answer would be to get a job. I was certified to teach regular ed first, but was only able to get a full-time teaching job when I got my special ed endorsement.

However, I really do not have any plans to try and get into a regular ed classroom at this point.

Like PP, I really like working 1:1 and in small groups with students. My teaching strengths are behavior and intervention.

My current job allows me to set up and run my classroom to play into those strengths. I also get to know my students really well and can individualize instruction.

Haley23 07-10-2016 10:09 PM


I guess my flip, brutally honest answer would be to get a job. I was certified to teach regular ed first, but was only able to get a full-time teaching job when I got my special ed endorsement.
Same for me. My current school is partnered with a local university and all of the students (including those just majoring in gen ed/elementary ed) have to do observation hours in sped, so I get practicum students that ask me about this all of the time. I always wonder if I should make up something that sounds better than "to get a job." I'm always honest, but I can tell that's not the answer they're expecting!

I did teach gen ed one year but unfortunately that job was in a horrible school. I tried to find another gen ed job then but had to go back to sped to find a job in a better school. In all honesty, I preferred gen ed. I really enjoyed having my own class and felt like I could make a bigger difference that way. I like small groups as well, but I taught in small groups all the time in my gen ed room, and it was very exciting/rewarding to see intervention strategies actually "work" (catch kids up to grade level quickly) with my gen ed "cusp kids." Full inclusion is also gaining popularity in my area, so I constantly have to worry about being allowed to actually continue teaching in small groups as a sped teacher (as opposed to doing push-in services where you become an aide). A gen ed teacher never has to worry about if they'll actually get to teach the next year!

I do find that I have a much better work/life balance as a sped teacher, and I appreciate that about the job. That's one big thing that keeps me from really pursuing getting back into gen ed (although I certainly would do it if we go to full inclusion).

I know this answer is not what people like to hear and some resent those that go into sped just to get a job. However, I'm good at my job and I honestly don't think people who are really passionate about specifically working in sped are any better at actually doing the job than me. Just because it's not your first choice doesn't mean you can't thrive in it!

NewCAteacher 07-10-2016 10:39 PM

I so appreciate your response and the previous responses. Good on you for being real about your motivations for the job, even if they are not "what we want to hear."

While I LOVE working with my struggling learners, I think your honest, raw perspective of the job applies to the vast majority of us, whether we admit it or not.

eeza 07-11-2016 07:18 AM

being in SPED

I know this answer is not what people like to hear and some resent those that go into sped just to get a job.
Haley23, I personally don't think there is anything wrong with thinking of teaching as a job. I know people kill themselves in this profession trying to live up to what people expect a teacher should be. I was one of those people the first few years teaching gen ed. I'm sorry, but I have a life outside of education and, when I realized that, teaching became more of a job for me rather than all-encompassing. Sure, I work hard, but I don't kill myself anymore for this job.

Opal 07-11-2016 09:39 AM

I was a reg ed teacher for 15 years and last year taught sped...what an eye opener that so many first I felt crazy but I realized I liked it and I'm doing it again this school year...why? I really liked the 1:1 and small group teaching, I like teaching social skills, I like helping kids learn to control behaviors themselves, and I found that I don't miss the reg ed classroom as much as I thought I would..that has its own work load and expectations too...the IEP'S are hard but I get help from other sped teachers..I guess I feel like I am really helping a group of kids that need a little extra...and for the most part, they are very sweet kids;)

pdxteacher 07-11-2016 02:35 PM

My feel good, pc answer is that I love the kids and blah blah blah.... but my real answer? I like that it's hard. I like out-thinking my students' disabilities. I like teaching kids how to do things that other people thought they weren't capable of. I like the challenge of how to get a kid to understand/do something, and trying 99 ways to do it because the 100th way just might work. Yeah, it's a little weird. :rolleyes:

newspedteach 07-11-2016 04:11 PM

I've been reading these
and nothing really stuck out until pdxteacher's response.

I too like the challenge. I also like the small group teaching, although really, for me (and probably for most sped teachers) it's not really small group, all doing the same thing at same time, like a title reading group. My kids are 1:1 within a grade level group. All kids are reading/writing/doing math on different levels within the group.

I went back to school in my 40's and did get an early childhood degree as well (cert. to teach P-3 gen. ed. as well as P-12 Sped) but knew I would never want to teach gen. ed. I worked in a remedial reading program as an IA for 13 years before I became a teacher.

I also like lesson planning for each individual student. I like searching for and experimenting on what works for each child. I like researching best practices for students.

I don't enjoy being a @itch when general ed. teachers or admin make it almost impossible for my students to be successful. I hate that I have to go for the jugular sometimes when insisting my kids get what they need; sometimes as simple as following the IEP (mainly accommodations). However, I am a really good advocate. You want me on your side <!--giggle-->.

The paperwork and organization is daunting. I am super organized, but this can be exhausting. I do all my own academic testing.

Like a previous poster, I am good at dealing with behavior. I am a really impatient person 'in real life', but I have the patience of Job when I need to, with these kids. I am also really good with kids with ASD. I love reading and learning about what works with each individual kid.

I like dealing with parents for the most part. I've had a couple of nightmare parents, but most have been so thankful that I've helped their children. I advocate for parents when they don't have the skills to do so.

I like that I get to keep kids for multiple years (most of the time <!--giggle-->).

Something I really love is observing kids who are struggling and coming up with strategies and ideas that may help. I do this on request (gen. ed. teachers or sometimes student assistance teams ask) and am happy to do it. I feel this is part of my job as a specialist and I even carve out time once a week in my schedule. I would love to do something like this part time to ease into retirement, but there is no such pt. time job in my district.

NewCAteacher 07-11-2016 04:46 PM

How do you deal with those individuals who constantly tell you that you're doing your job wrong? Do you brush it off?

And at what point do you allow yourself to say you've done "enough" for a kid?

Thanks :)

readandweep 07-12-2016 05:38 AM

That is a good question.

To me it really depends on the background or involvement of the person doing the critiquing.

Is the person telling you you are wrong in your classroom or dealing with your students a lot? Do they have a background in special ed or your type of special ed (push in resource is not self-contained behavior disorders)? Then I would listen to them and ask pointed questions. Ask to observe in another class or observe them. If they genuinely want to help, they will come through. If not, they will hush up quickly.

Are they telling you for example that Joey needs to be doing addition and subtraction when Joey still struggles with 1:1 correspondence? Then I would calmly state your data and what you have observed Joey doing in your class. I would also re-state IEP goals and how Joey either does not qualify for district-wide assessments or how poorly he performed on the assessments. I would also use your data to show growth and chart prerequisite skills needed to successfully add and subtract.

Or just nod and smile. Some people don't like hearing and seeing data, they just want to hear how right they are. :)

Madaly320 07-14-2016 03:23 PM

My license will be in severe disabilities. I really enjoy the moderate-severe area, mostly students with severe Autism with behaviors that affect their ability to integrate into their age appropriate classrooms.

I just love it.

I have found through experience that I have so much patience for these kids, way more so than Gen ed kids. I could never teach general education, never. no desire. lol

I love what happens after months of working with my kids and seeing that one change in behavior, or that slight progression they make academically. I get goosebumps when I realize what they CAN do. Kids with severe Autism always make me smile. They make me laugh, make me cry, sure they frustrate me at times, but it is like a puzzle and I love puzzles. I love to solve problems, find what works, etc.

This is why I chose this field. I want to be a part of a solution to their lives, as well as their family's lives.

And then there is the other answer I have...

I teach sped (mod-Severe) because sometimes I feel like I am not smart enough to teach general ed. I am a jack of all trades and a master of none. I know a lot of little things about a lot of things. lol. I do not feel competent enough to teach an actual subject to say, a 6th grade class.
But teaching life skills, academic basics, numbers, letters, shapes, toileting, self care, routines, social aspects that are so necessary for independence...I am all about that, plus I find it to come so easily, which makes my job feel almost easy.

And when I start to feel like I took the easy way out, a gen ed teacher will come to me and say Gosh, I have NO idea how you can do what you do!! And that makes me feel good because it makes me realize we all have strengths and weaknesses, and we all need to do what we like and are comfortable with. We all have a calling that is different and there is no real "easy way" out because it may be a difficult way for someone else.

ElemenTchr 07-16-2016 01:13 PM

I never thought I would teach SPED
In college I went to my supervisor about adding a reading cert and she said that was fine, but I should really consider adding the sped endorsement, as that would help me get a job. I did it, but figured I would only apply to Gen Ed positions and that's what I did. I got hired as a part time basic skills teacher in my district, and one summer I submitted my resume for a gen ed 3rd grade position in the district, interviewed for it, got rejected, then in the middle of the summer the special ed supervisor called me to come in and interview for the resource position. And I got it. So my supervisor was right, it would help me get a job.

With all that being said. I love my job. I spent my first year in resource, then spent the next 2 years in inclusion, and this year I am headed back to resource (hopefully just doing reading/writing). I am so excited to head back there, I love the small group and the individualized nature of the program. I absolutely agree with PP, it's the challenge and trying to tailor to each student's needs to see them really grow.

I'm definitely looking forward to this year.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:20 AM.

Copyright © ProTeacher®
For individual use only. Do not copy, reproduce or transmit.