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Haley23 Haley23 is offline
Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 6,448
Senior Member

Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 6,448
Senior Member

Old 11-25-2017, 01:45 PM
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I would talk to the SPED and ESL teachers in your school (and in your area in general, if you could arrange this) to see what they really think of your positions. Maybe even spend a few planning periods in their rooms if they're up for it. I think both jobs are so different everywhere that's it's really hard to give someone general advice.

Consider the fact that there is a really high burn out rate in SPED for a reason. For whatever reason, many classroom teachers assume that my job is easier than theirs, I guess because I teach small groups. Yes, that's true- but every single one of my students is a "difficult" student. Even if they're nice/well behaved, they have extremely significant academic issues or they wouldn't be in my class in the first place. We also have impossible expectations as far as what we're expected to get our students to do with limited resources and time. On top of that, in my mind the actual teaching part is only about half of the job (even though I teach a full schedule, just like gen ed teachers)- the other half is meetings, paperwork, and consulting with teachers. The average burnout rate for a sped teacher is 2 years, and at least in my area, when we have an opening it's extremely hard to fill. I had an ST last year who came in 100% sure that she wanted sped, but her program wouldn't let her only do sped; they made her do a dual cert with gen ed. By the end of the year she had switched to wanting gen ed only.

My dad is also a sped teacher and he's told me that pretty much every teacher he's worked with over the last 30 years has moved into gen ed after a couple of years. That's possible in his area because the job market is more saturated, so there are more teachers willing to fill sped positions. In my area, once you're in sped it's really, really difficult to get out. I know a couple of sped teachers in my district right now are thinking about getting the sped part of their licenses completely removed.

The EL teachers (ESL is "EL" here) in my district have been moved into more of a "consultant" role. Apparently "the research" shows that pull out programs don't help language acquisition. The original idea was that our EL teachers would co-teach, but we have 1.5 EL teachers for a school with 18 gen ed classrooms. We have a large EL population, so even when they tried to "cluster" them, they still had 12 classrooms with EL students in them. They push in some and spend a lot of their day in "planning" meetings with the classroom teachers. The classroom teachers are often resentful of their planning times being taken up. I would hate a position like that. It does seem like less work than other teaching positions (although of course I don't know that for sure), but to me it would feel like a waste of my skills. I wouldn't like a position where I wasn't actually teaching. In many areas, sped is like this too- they are supposed to be "co-teaching" but basically end up being treated like aides.
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